Diaconate Ordinations in Africa Part of Mission Church Experience

Brother David Henley, Vocation DirectorJuly 2011

In late June, two classmates studying with Glenmary Home Missioners, Crispine Adongo and Aaron Wessman, were ordained transitional deacons. The ceremony took place at Crispine's home parish in Ulanda, Kenya.

Men who have joined our community having the opportunity to be ordained deacons in their home parishes is a wonderful way to let their family and friends—who might not be able to travel a long distance—participate in the joyous event.

In this way the families, parishes and communities who have supported the men during their studies have a chance to share in the celebration. Aaron, a Minnesota native, decided it would be good for him and his classmate to be ordained together, and so he also made the trip to Kenya.

Over the years I have attended an Easter Vigil Mass and other celebrations that have lasted two and sometimes nearly three hours. However, the recent ordination Mass in Ulanda, Kenya, was the first time that I participated in a Mass lasting five hours. Prior to this celebration, I did not know it was possible for a Mass to last that long.

We estimate that about 4,000 people were in attendance at the outdoor liturgy celebrated in St. Martin de Porres Parish in the Diocese of Homa Bay. The five-hour Mass was a magnificent celebration that included prayer, singing, proclaiming, dancing and great joy in all things. A total of 10 men were ordained: two for Glenmary, three Passionists and five for the Homa Bay Diocese.

Crispine and Aaron will serve as deacons for one year and then be ordained priests next year. Since we, as Glenmarians, are called to serve in the missions here in the United States, all of our seminarians will be ordained as priests in this country.

While I served in the Glenmary missions in Kentucky and Arkansas, I met people living in those areas who had moved from other parts of the world. I often reflected on how privileged I was to meet these people in a small rural mission. For me, it is always exciting to meet people from other cultures and learn customs that are profoundly different from my own. The differences can sometimes be challenging, but as missioners, we are called to go out of our comfort zones, enter new places and situations, and share the love of Christ with those we meet.

After the ordination Mass, Glenmary Father Vic Subb and I traveled around Kenya and Uganda, visiting the homes of our students. Four men will be moving from these countries to the United States next month to begin their studies with Glenmary Home Missioners.

Father Vic noted that many years ago missioners traveled to Kenya and Eastern Africa to share the Good News. The faith of the people and the Church there, as in many other parts of the world, have grown so much that these countries are now sending missioners to other parts of the world, including the United States.

I think the Church's growth and its sending of missioners are true measures of its success. We are a mission Church and are called to share our faith in our homes, in our workplaces, with our friends, in the distant corners of the world, and in the rural areas of the United States.