Above left, Sr. Christine Naswa Barasa checks the temperature of Esther one of our kitchen Staff as she reports to work. Above in the middle, Esther sanitizes herself as she enters the Centre. Above right, Sr. Christine sanitizes herself as she enters the Chapel.

“WE MAKE OURSELVES AVAILABLE TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO COME WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS AND TO ASSIST THEM IN ANYWAY  POSSIBLE.”

BY SR JENNIFER CHINELO OKWUAKA, CCVI

Ukarimu Retreat Centre is a ministry owned and administered by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, Texas. Ukarimu in Kiswahili means Hospitality. It was begun by Sr. Gabrielle Duane in the year 1987. It is the second ministry of CCVI to be established at Baraka, Molo, Kenya, after St. Peter the Apostle, Early Years of Education. We have a mission to make God’s presence real in our world today and a vision to create a living centre of prayer where people deepen their relationship with God and renew their commitment to serving God and humanity.

For Ukarimu Retreat Centre to achieve its mission and vision, the Sisters over the years have kept the focus of creating a conducive environment for prayer and contemplation, in renovated and beautifully landscaped grounds. Our target groups are the religious men and women, the clergy, catechists and lay people desiring to deepen their relationship with God through retreats, days of recollection, workshops and seminars among others. We also welcome groups like Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and those who work for Peace, Justice, along with reconciliation workshops, meetings, etc.

We also welcome people who focus on ecology and general service to humanity in Kenya and beyond, especially when we don’t have retreatants. 

Basically, the Centre is greatly affected as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some of our co-ministers were asked to stay home in 2020 for a short period; many bookings have been cancelled but we still have some people who come for retreats and workshops. We still have our monthly recollection on the last Saturday of every month. It has been a privilege for us to have daily Mass even during lockdown.

Top left, Sr. Jennifer listens to Irene, an orphan and student in need. Top right, is our former Chaplain, Fr. Erick Ogolla, CP, in a session with Sr. Memory and Sr. Josephine of the Franciscan Missionaries for Africa during their retreat. Bottom left, part of the tree-tomato plantation in our farm, and below right, the Way of the Cross that is easily accessible.

Meanwhile, we are being careful in taking all precautions against COVID by checking temperature, wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, keeping social distance, leaving the entrance door to the centre open, using automatic hand sanitizers and cleaning the place regularly.

We have enhanced our farming by planting variety of crops, vegetables and fruits such as corn, potatoes, peas, local vegetables, avocado, tree tomatoes etc. We also moved the Way of the Cross that used to be in our forest to a more airy and open place. We make ourselves available to listen to people who come with different needs and to assist them in any way possible.

With this current pandemic, we now have a deeper understanding of our vulnerability and our connectedness as God’s creation. We feel called to continue to depend on God, to live in the present and to remain hopeful. We are also called to share what we have with others as we continue holding each other in prayer. 

Finally, we would like to express our appreciation to Sister Kevina Keating and her Council for their immense support which enables us to keep the Centre running. We pray that God may continue to bless them with good health and strength as they continue to serve God and humanity.

PRAISED BE THE INCARNATE WORD, FOREVER!

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