As I have already announced in my letter of March 5th, the coming celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady Consolata, the Patroness of our Diocese, on June 25th, will assume this year a very special importance and a deeper significance, because it will coincide with the official inauguration and the blessing of MARIA MFARIJI SHRINE / THE HOUSE OF PRAYER, which is arising on one of the hills nearby Marsabit town. I am writing this letter to remind you of this happy occurrence and to invite you and ---through you--- to invite all our Christians to participate in its preparation, even if for most of you this preparation and celebration shall have to be carried out only in your parishes and outstations.
The Shrine ---as you know--- has been built and it continues being built, with the generous cooperation of many benefactors from abroad and some even from Kenya. The many little drops of charity have contributed to make it the reality that it is today. However, it is now up to us to endeavour to fulfil its purpose. We should look at the Shrine as a gift from God to our Diocese, and even to other Dioceses in Kenya. Our Shrine and the various ministries it will offer will be at the service of the spiritual welfare of the Church, both in regard to each one of us individually, as well as to Christian Communities.
In regard to our immediate spiritual preparation in view of involving as many as possible in it, I suggest that whatever we can do be carried out locally through a Novena to be animated by the local Fathers in Charge, Sisters, Catechists and lay Leaders. Some catechetical aids, based on biblical “Lectio Divina”, etc., will be sent to you as soon as possible before June 16th, the starting day of our preparation. What will be done in all parishes and outstations will be done in a particular way at the Cathedral Church and at the Shrine here in Marsabit. It will be up to you to use your creativity in adding other initiatives, adapted to the various places.
What is important is to help people to be aware of the significance of the coming event as an occasion to rediscover the meaning of the Christian life as a “Safari ya imani na ya upendo” in the fulfillment of our duties towards God and towards our brothers and sisters, while striving to grow in holiness under the guidance of Holy Mother Church.
For the celebration itself in Marsabit on June 25th, there shall be a Solemn Eucharist beginning at 9.00 a.m., presided by His Grace Nicodemus Kirima, Archbishop of Nyeri, who will represent our Metropolitan Church, that is the Church from which Marsabit Diocese was born in 1964. Bishop Virgilio Pante will also be with us, representing the Diocese of Maralal, which is the Daughter Church of Marsabit Mother Church, since October 6th, 2001. After the Mass the plan is that a procession will move from town to the Shrine as in a pilgrimage of faith. Upon arrival and after a brief explanation on the meaning and on the history of the Shrine and a liturgy of the Word of God, all present will be witnessing the Blessing of the Shrine and the House of Prayer. Finally, we shall all have the opportunity of visiting the different sections of the newly blessed holy structures, and also rejoicing in some refreshment.
Due to long distances of our parishes from Marsabit and to practical reasons, it will not be possible except only for a small delegation of seven persons from each parish, possibly including one Father, one Sister, the Chairman of Parish Council, a man and a woman and two representatives of the youth, to attend the celebration of that day. The parishes shall certainly have the opportunity in later dates to organize visits and pilgrimages to the Shrine.
Let me add one last consideration. It seems to be very providential that the coming event of the blessing of the Shrine and the House of Prayer should happen at the time during which we are undergoing some sufferings and experiencing trials and difficulties of various kinds, including social, ethnic and political tensions. It should not be so! We are very much in need of reconciliation and peace. Let the Shrine be a sign of God’s presence and protection and may Our Lady Consolata continue to shine forth as a sign of hope and of comfort for each one of us, who are part of the Pilgrim Church on earth.
That is all for now. I wish you a fruitful preparation for this year’s Consolata Day!
With my prayers and my blessings, I remain,
Bishop of Marsabit