YCS 2019 Retreat at Shrine of Mercy, Sister Irene Nyaatha Grounds in Nyeri County

By Onyango Philip

As a tradition and out of the desire to spiritually exercise our souls with the view of attaining salvation for the same, the St. Thomas Aquinas chaplaincy, made a retreat to the shrine of mercy at Gikondi parish popular as Sister Irene Nyaatha Shrines in Nyeri County on June 8, 2019

Our arrival at mid-morning treated us to a pleasant environment somewhat cold but enticing environment. The silence was definitely thrilling away from town, I must say it was saintly. We were received by Seminarian Joseph Kibe who is doing his apostolate at Gikondi parish. He took us round the shrine and finally settled us at the Shrine of Mercy Auditorium.

Seminarian Joseph Kibe then gave an outstanding talk on the purpose of our lives especially as the youth of this generation. A generation where depression is the order of the day. The root at least to every evil in our society today. He then addressed controversial issues with such simplicity explaining the reason behind the church teaching. At the peak was the issue on abortion and pregnancy on the youth. The use of contraceptive for family planning and its effects. It was a one to one talk, one addressing the extremis of this daily dread we live with in our society. The second session was more of a motivation to find a reason to live to achieve the end that it is to become a saint for our lord Jesus. That each and every one of us has a mission to which we strive everyday but even without our knowledge, the knowledge is clear to the creator

The next session titled the journey of Sister Irene Nyaatha. Generally, an exhortation to become a saint, that it is possible for each of us. The story starts in Anfo, Italy. When Sister Irene was born to the family of Geovanni Stefani. A fairly impoverished family and was soon introduced to the parish church in her town. She grows in the church and learns to be nursed, consoled and taken care of by the mother church. When it is time to choose a vocation, she picks it decently, to serve the lord under Consolata founded by Blessed Joseph Allamano. She took her religious vows in 1912 and she was commissioned by missioned to Africa by her superior to help the war victims in africa. This is a very tough time for her given that the father is sick. She did what the Lord demanded, leaves his family for the sake of the Lord. She arrives in Africa at a time when there are no proper roads, no proper shelter, no health services, and practically zero infrastructure. She is eventually commissioned to Gikondi parish, where she went around treating the sick and offering her self completely. Not going on vehicle but walking the many kilometers on foot in her oiled boots. What merits her sanctity is number of people she taught catechism and baptized.

We cannot forget what we have heard and seen, what the Lord has done. Particularly striking is the decision to live the mission instead of seeking comfort of the family. Geophani writes a very emotional letter to her daughter Stephany affirming her decisions. In the process of investigation of the life of Sister Irene, it was paramount to find the place she lived, it is amazing to note that the foundations of the house she lived in, after a century later was found intact and in place and is now where the Shrine of Mercy stands

We sincerely thank our chaplain, Rev Fr Dr Ndikaru Wa Teresia for much encouragement and prayers he has given ever to us to be a strong as YCS family.