Fr. Gerard Conlon, a Canadian Oblate working in the Kenya Mission, recently published on his home province’s website (www.omilacombe.ca) and account of just one week in his missionary life. Here are some excerpts from that busy week in October 2015.
(Tuesday) afternoon, a troubled young man (Year 10 = 15 years old) whom we assisted last year came to visit, looking downcast – he has been bed-hopping here and there for 2 months. Basically, he’s been rejected by his father because he did not go home since November, 2014. I tried to give him a little tough advice and said, “The Principal is waiting to counsel/encourage you.” He wanted to go away to be with his brother who would put him in school… it’s the other side of Meru, which is “drug country.” I reminded him that his father is his best chance for an “educated future”… I asked him: “What will you do if your brother loses his job?” He didn’t appreciate my advice and went off sadly. A few hours later I received a text message from him saying: “I’ve suffered enough and the only option now is to commit SUICIDE”. By the time I saw the message, it was 30 minutes later… and he would not answer my call. So I started sending encouraging messages… and received no response. I felt he was just being “dramatic” but as time passed I became more worried.
Wednesday brought no news. I had the Catechist look for him. His father was adamant that the boy would be far away. We got the Local Chief to look for him through the network of Area Managers. He finally showed up on Thursday in the late afternoon, ready to break down in tears but of course, being a ‘man’, that’s not allowed. I gave him a bit of a hug, then told him how worried we had all been. He shed a tear then, so I sent him off for a shower and fresh clothes at the Convent – I almost shed a tear myself. He returned at supper time and began to relax. As I write this, he is still at the Convent, doing a little work around the place. But he doesn’t like manual work, so I don’t know what to do with him! After a counselling session on Friday, I decided we need to get the dad to soften his heart. His dad has been “beating” the boy for every minor mistake since he was 7 years old. The “young man” is afraid, but worse, he has not received enough love.
(On Saturday) I spent the rest of the day in a big celebration to say farewell to a Kionyo Catechist, Edward after 26 years of service. In the evening, two lovely Sisters joined us, and stayed the night, to talk about Vocations at the Sunday Masses. With Bro. Joseph MAGAMBO and a young lad of 14 years from our new OMI parish at Kisaju (near Nairobi), our house was full and very joyful.
The young lad, whom we nicknamed “the Professor,” has a technical problem regarding his desire to join the Minor Seminary — he is Anglican! His family is now attending the Catholic Church, so Fr. Dionysius ANANUA has been teaching him the basics so he can be received into the Catholic Church, and then he will be “processed” through the catechism classes at the seminary.
[Author’s note: Where else can a person get so much variety, excitement, joy and reward from one “job?”]