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Kenya – “The Call of Mary and our Christian call”: Nairobi Marian Congress 2023

The Marian Congress 2023, organised by the Salesians of the East Africa Province (AFE) and held at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at the 'Don Bosco Upper Hill' centre, ended on 1st July, with a solemn Mass presided over by Fr. Simon Asira Lipuku, AFE Provincial. The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. George Tharaniyil, who will assume the leadership of the AFE Province for the sesennium 2023-2029 from the month of August, and by Fr. Emilius Salema, Superior of the new Province 'St. Artemis Zatti' of Tanzania (TZA). Among the others present was Fr. Alejandro Guevara, ADMA’s World Spiritual Animator.

The final day was marked by a pilgrimage of about 10 kilometres to the Garden of Resurrection, a unique place of prayer in Africa. More than 850 participants, divided into groups of 20, joined the pilgrimage, praying the Rosary and singing Marian hymns.

On arrival, the pilgrims were welcomed by the priest in charge of the place, who told them: “To pray is to listen to God, and let us not tire of praying because God, in His time, answers.” This was followed by a talk on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and everyone had the opportunity to confess individually. Then, Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop Emeritus of Nairobi, celebrated Mass and expressed his closeness to the Salesians, thanking them for organising the Marian Congress.

Afterwards, the history of the Garden of Resurrection was presented to the participants. This special place of prayer was created by the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga who dreamed of having a place solely for prayer. He is buried in the very Garden of Resurrection. Now the Cardinal is on his way to sainthood. The day ended with a Hymn to Mary, led by the Choir of the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.

The last day of the Congress had as its theme: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38)” and there was a sharing on the acceptance of God's will in Mary's life and in our lives; the symbols of the day were the ‘steps’ of Jesus and Mary.

The Lectio Divina was on the same theme, emphasising the importance of saying 'Yes' to God, followed by the action of getting up, setting out and hurrying to meet others who need our help, putting the needs of others first, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did when she went to visit Elizabeth. The message was: ‘Are we ready to go out and serve? Where do you want to start?"

The keynote speaker, Professor Clement Majawa, spoke on 'Accepting God's will in our lives', emphasising the need to be informed, formed and transformed by the truths of the Bible.

In the concluding Mass, Fr. Simon Asira Lipuku recalled Don Bosco’s deep devotion to Mary Help of Christians. Fr. Alejandro Guevara, for his part, thanked everyone for the organisation and urged them to carry on Don Bosco's dream.


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