Kenyan Mission

A Growing Province

In 1989 Bishop (now Cardinal) Njue of Embu, through a missionary priest from Venice Fr. Mario, requested the Nigerian Augustinian Vice-Province to run the rural parish of Ishiara (central Kenya). The reasons given were:

Italian Contemplative Augustinian Nuns (originally from Mira Porta in Venice) had set up a Monastery there in 1977 and had accepted local vocations.

The Spanish Misioneras Sisters who had established a girls’ secondary school there in 1986.

Fr. Tom Sexton, who had spent 10 years in Nigeria, arrived in Ishiara on September 21st 1990 to take over the parish from Fr. Mario. Over the years some other Augustinians joined him, Nigerian and Irish. Fr. John Joe O’Connor would be the other longest serving member there.

In 1994 Cardinal Otunga, on behalf of the Kenyan Episcopal Conference, requested the Prior General (Miguel Angel Orcasitas) to set up an O.S.A. formation house in Kenya. The main reason given was that the Augustinians had been the first missionaries to Kenya. The Portuguese Augustinians had been in Mombasa from 1593 to 1728. The Prior General requested the Nigerian Vice Province to take up the challenge.

The Augustinian life is about living together in harmony as we journey with God and to God. We have been present in Ireland since shortly after the Order was founded in 1256. So our roots in Ireland are deep and longstanding. As an international order, we are numbered in the thousands worldwide. However, currently here in Ireland, we have 82 friars. While there are many challenges in Ireland we are excited about the opportunities they offer us. As it is the challenges of life that provide the greatest growth. So as things change rapidly in Ireland it is worth remembering Thaddeus of Vitovnica words,

Everything is changing; nothing remains static.

In our conversations and our meetings with people, we recognise the truth of this changing environment. However, our tradition and history provide an inspiration for us and many others. As it is our tradition and history that shows us how life ebbs and flows over time, all the while leading us deeper into God’s great mystery of love.

Formation

Fr. Francis Aherne, an Irish Augustinian with years of experience in the African vocation and formation fields, was sent from Nigeria and arrived on October 1st 1995.

He chose Nairobi as the obvious centre for formation. He lived on his own in Nairobi for a few years. The Prior General and Assistant General paid regular visits to him there. He advertised for possible vocations in Kenyan Catholic magazines. He was also on the lookout for a formation house and when the Divine Word provincial told him that they had bought houses in Park Estate for philosophers, he did the same.he first candidates were accepted in March of 1997. They studied philosophy for three years at Consolata Institute of Philosophy, not too far from their formation house. If they wished and were considered suitable candidates, they were then sent to Jos in Nigeria for a year of Novitiate. The next stage was to build a theology house. Francis was fortunate to get a five-acre plot, halfway between the Catholic University of East Africa and Tangaza Seminary (where some 170 Religious Congregations send their students). St. Augustine’s Friary was built and now houses Augustinian theologians and post-graduates from Congo, Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya.

T

he Augustinian way of life was founded to respond to the needs of the Church of the late 1200s. And it is this call to respond to the Church and peoples’ needs that still inspires us today. On this website, you will see our close involvement with our lay communities associated with our parishes, schools and churches around Ireland and our Lay Forum which is seeking ways to create communities of Augustinian life and spirit for these times. Our earliest traditions go back to Saint Augustine. Particularly in more recent years, we are rediscovering what a wonderfully rich legacy he has left us.

We respond to these needs at home and abroad. While most of us are in Ireland we still have a number of men in Nigeria, Ecuador, Kenya, North America, Australia and Rome. We also try to assist overseas projects, especially where there is other Augustinian’s present and where the needs are greatest. In recent times we have offered assistance in Korea, India, and DR Congo.

In Ireland we minister in three Dublin parishes: Meath Street, Finglas and Ballyboden and we run John’s Lane Church, where we have had a community since it was opened in 1874.

Our most northerly community is in Drogheda and we have two secondary schools, one in New Ross and another in Dungarvan. We also have a community running the church in Dungarvan town. We also have a church-run by our community in the ‘other’ capital, Cork, and a Church in Galway, Limerick and the town of Fethard in Tipperary.

In 1998 the Cardinal was requested for a parish within Nairobi and we were offered Baba Dogo, which we accepted. Nigerian and Irish Augustinians helped to set it up and it is still a very active parish with a primary school and a three-storied clinic on the compound.

A soccer team in Kenya.

Two of the original six who had joined, James Wambugu and Jacob Ariek, were finally professed by Prior General Robert Prevost in October 2005 and ordained priests in December 2005. At present, there are 26 Kenyan Augustinian priests with a number of other indigenous at various stages of formation. There is one expatriate, David Fitzgerald. They have also since accepted parishes in Kisumu, Chuka and Eldoret.

T

he Augustinian way of life was founded to respond to the needs of the Church of the late 1200s. And it is this call to respond to the Church and peoples’ needs that still inspires us today. On this website, you will see our close involvement with our lay communities associated with our parishes, schools and churches around Ireland and our Lay Forum which is seeking ways to create communities of Augustinian life and spirit for these times. Our earliest traditions go back to Saint Augustine. Particularly in more recent years, we are rediscovering what a wonderfully rich legacy he has left us.

We respond to these needs at home and abroad. While most of us are in Ireland we still have a number of men in Nigeria, Ecuador, Kenya, North America, Australia and Rome. We also try to assist overseas projects, especially where there is other Augustinian’s present and where the needs are greatest. In recent times we have offered assistance in Korea, India, and DR Congo.

In Ireland we minister in three Dublin parishes: Meath Street, Finglas and Ballyboden and we run John’s Lane Church, where we have had a community since it was opened in 1874.

Our most northerly community is in Drogheda and we have two secondary schools, one in New Ross and another in Dungarvan. We also have a community running the church in Dungarvan town. We also have a church-run by our community in the ‘other’ capital, Cork, and a Church in Galway, Limerick and the town of Fethard in Tipperary.

The Kenyan mission from the Start

An Augustinian Priory in Kenya.
St. Augustine's Friary, Kenya.
St. Augustine's Friary, Kenya.
Augustinian students in Kenya.
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ABOUT

The Augustinians are a Catholic Religious Order made up of both lay and religious people. Our life is about living together in harmony as we journey with God and to God.

USEFUL LINKS

CONTACT INFO

Augustinian Province of Ireland
St. Augustine’s,
Taylor’s Lane,
Ballyboden,
Dublin 16, D16YN32

Phone: 01-4851516
Email: [email protected]