Student Overcomes Health Challenge in First Year of Formation

Posted: 4/12/2013

Patrick Muriithi, Glenmary priesthood candidateFor most of us, it would seem impossible to leave our homes and families several thousand miles away with the intention of living in another country for the rest of our lives. Yet some Glenmary students from Africa and Mexico do just that.

The challenges these students face are not always limited to bridging the thousands of miles between home and the United States. For Patrick Muriithi, of Embu, Kenya, the biggest challenge he faced during his first year in the United States began after he discovered a cancerous lump on his shoulder.

"After I reported it to Fathers Vic Subb and Jerry Dorn," says Patrick, "they arranged for speedy treatment that included successful surgery." Prior to the surgery and treatment, Patrick was anointed by Father Frank Ruff and Father Vic in Elkton, Ky. "The entire Glenmary community prayed for my health and I have recovered well. Today I have a good, strong shoulder. I will not forget Glenmary's prayers for me anytime soon."

From the time Patrick—who is from Embu, Kenya—was invited to join Glenmary's candidacy program in the United States, he began informing family and friends about his news and making all the necessary arrangements for his departure. While living in Kenya, Patrick worked as a geography and business studies teacher at St. Irene's Girls High School. So among the first items of business was to inform the school administration that he was leaving to pursue a priestly vocation.

Looking back on his journey to Glenmary, Patrick recalls that it was both an exciting and a turbulent time. "I was humble enough to pray and thank God for his mercy and grace," he says. "There was palpable tension in my heart as I prepared to leave the country I had called home since birth. It was hard to say goodbye."

Since he arrived in the United States, Patrick admits there have been many instances of culture shock—but that those moments have become less frequent. One of the most difficult things he had to adjust to was the clock. In Kenya, it was not as important to always be on time as it is in the United States. But his first year of American seminary life taught him the value of being prompt for class.

Patrick declares his health to be "sound and upbeat," although he still continues to follow up with his doctors on a regular basis.

With the health obstacle behind him, Patrick is focusing once again on his formation and continuing to adapt to life in this country. Among his goals is communicating better, both by reducing his accent and by modifying his language to be more "Americanized."

Because Glenmary's first year of formation is focused on academics, Patrick has yet to spend any significant time in the mission areas. So far his experience has been limited to weekend tours and Holy Week in the missions. But that will change this year as he begins his novitiate experience.

"I am scheduled to start my (five-month) mission placement this summer, and I am looking forward to it," he says. "It will surely be a great experience to serve in the fields and help gather the rich harvest for the Lord."