July 19, 2019

Journey to Nyeri Sainthood Begins

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By Veronicah Njoroge

The infrastructural development that came up in the last one week in Nyeri Town and its environs has heightened the curiosity of the locals. The beatification of Sister Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” of the Consolata Missionaries in Nyeri will take place in a three-day event. “Nyaatha” is the name that was used to refer to Sister Irene translating to mother of Peace. The beatification of Sister Irene will be the first in Africa following an amendment of a decree by former Pope, John Paul II which restricted martyrdom, beatification and canonization events to be done in Rome only. Last minute preparations are now in top-gear to ensure, that this event, the second such major occasion in the over 100-year history of the Consolata Missionary Institute, is a success.

Although a number of Nyeri residents as well as some catholic faithful had no idea who the late Sister Irene was, the recent remarkable developments couldn’t go unnoticed as in one way or another they ended up knowing who “Nyaatha” was. The locals have been raising eyebrows over why contractors have “invaded” their town and tens of technicians from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company are all over installing street lights.

The beatification of the Consolata missionary known as Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” will take place between Friday 22nd evening and Sunday 24th. The ceremony will begin with a vigil mass on Friday at the Gikondi Catholic Parish. The late nun who spent the 15 years she lived in Kenya helping the needy will be promoted from a Servant of God to Blessed.

According to reports, President Uhuru Kenyatta instructed State officials in charge of roads, Kenya Power and other crucial departments, to set aside emergency funds for the developments to be undertaken within the shortest time possible. This came after a delegation led by area Governor Nderitu Gachagua went to state house to appeal for assistance in giving Nyeri town a face lift.

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) reportedly will spend Sh130 million on lighting up Nyeri. Already, KPLC has installed new streetlights and old ones have been repaired along the streets where the ceremony will take place. The ceremony is expected to attract thousands of Catholics from around the world, including high-ranking Vatican officials. Governor Gachagua has dismissed claims that the street lights will be removed after the event. “We have budgeted for their maintenance through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya Power. We have also acquired a maintenance vehicle that will be operating in Nyeri, Kimathi area, Mukurweini and Karatina towns,” said Gachagua.

Internal Security PS Joseph Irungu last Wednesday announced that the National Government would take over the preparations for the occasion.

The church is also playing its part and its putting up a 3.9 million dais at Dedan Kimathi University, where the main beatification event will be held. The dais has been constructed at a central and elevated point to enable every pilgrim attending the event watch the clergy conducting the beatification mass, with a magnificent view of Mt Kenya in the background. Catholic faithful filled Our Lady of Consolata Cathedral on Thursday, to attend a consecration service of a sarcophagus where the relics of the late nun will be preserved.

Reverend Gottardo Pasqualetti, who holds the title Postulator, was in the country last week for a two-day visit. His work was to inspect and give approval to various arrangements being made in Nyeri, before jetting back to Vatican to brief the Pope on the progress of the mega event. A Postulator is the person who guides a cause for beatification or canonization through the judicial processes required by the Roman Catholic Church. Pasqualetti said more than 300 missionaries from Italy have confirmed their attendance, while Kenyans are also expected to throng the event in huge numbers. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world are also expected in Kenya to bear witness of this event, which will be presided by the Papal Legate — a personal appointee of Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, Nyeri County Government says it has established a guest desk at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in preparation for the upcoming historic international and spiritual ceremony.

With only two days left, everything seems to be in order and reports indicate that preparations are also being monitored to the hour, while Gachagua and President Uhuru are receiving daily updates

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