Student Shares New Experiences, Stays 'Open to Spirit of God'

Posted: 12/12/2011

By Ambrose Mbire Wanyonyi

Glenmary Student

I left Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 4, 2011, to travel to the United States for the first time, continue in the Glenmary formation program, and prepare for Glenmary priesthood. I boarded a midnight flight on Kenya Airways that was to make its first stop in London. That flight took nine hours. Next, I was off to JFK Airport in New York, a leg which took eight hours. And finally, I took a flight from New York to Cincinnati, the home of Glenmary's Headquarters. The whole journey from Kenya to Cincinnati totaled about 21 hours.

In order to make this journey, I needed to have the courage and trust to leave behind my parents, friends and the home and environment to which I was accustomed. And I had to be prepared to embrace the unknown and follow my call to Glenmary.

Having arrived safely, I was welcomed by Glenmary Father Vic Subb on Aug. 5, nearly a full day after I left my homeland. And I was reunited with my classmate Godfrey Musabe, with whom I attended the Tangaza (Kenya) School of Theology the previous year. Father Vic took us to various places for Glenmary's orientation program. To start, we paid a visit to missions in Vanceburg and Grayson, Ky., as well as the Glenmary Farm in Vanceburg.

Afterwards we traveled back to Cincinnati, where Father Steve Pawelk gave a presentation about culture. The following day we visited Father Frank Ruff in Elkton, Ky. He shared a talk about ecumenism in Glenmary's mission areas and the importance of having good relationships with people of other faiths.

We had a variety of programs at the House of Discernment in Hartford, Ky.: Two of Glenmary's lay coworkers, Liz Dudas and Lorraine Vancamp, talked to us about evangelization. Father Jerry Dorn conducted a day of reflection. And the Glenmary Commission on Justice coordinator, Betsy Dwyer, talked about the important theme of justice.

We also visited Father Dennis Holly at the Scottsville, Ky., and Lafayette, Tenn., missions and attended a Spanish Mass he celebrated that evening in Lafayette.

Finally, we concluded our orientation program by going with Father John Rausch to Floyd and Magoffin counties in Kentucky, where we visited a site  that had been defaced by a coal-mining method known as mountaintop removal. I was personally touched by this visit and realized the need to take care of nature and the environment, since the repercussions of neglecting this care can be devastating.

After Glenmary's orientation, we participated in another orientation program at St. Meinrad School of Theology. It was interesting for me to learn that the monastery has been in existence for over 150 years. I also learned that this institution has a rich Benedictine tradition.

Since I had finished my first year of theology in Nairobi, I began second-year theology classes at St. Meinrad this fall. This past semester I have studied about the synoptic Gospels, the history of the Church in America, the Sacred Councils, and insights of the Fathers of the Church. All my current and future courses will help further my preparation for priesthood. And learning more about the culture of the Church in the United States will help me prepare to be a Glenmary missioner.

As first-year students, Godfrey and I live with Fathers Jerry and Vic at the Glenmary House of Studies in St. Meinrad, Ind., rather than on campus. At our house we pray together daily, as well as cook and eat together. In essence we live in a community. On Sundays, we attend Mass at a local parish where we are able to interact with other Catholics and our neighbors.

I have a number of questions, but the answers take time. It's all about having faith in God, trusting in his providence and being reassured by the feeling of having the call to serve.

I have to humbly acknowledge the fact that the Lord calls whomever he wants in his own way. God doesn't necessarily call the perfect, but he perfects the called and shapes and molds them into his own instruments. I always try to be open to the Spirit of God, allowing myself to be moved by that Spirit.