It has been a moment of gratitude to the Almighty God for His love and care that we have witnessed as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Parish-Dagoretti. At this moment, one might be tempted to say a lot, but whatever the case it was a joyous day to celebrate and give thanks to God of our Pallottine presence in the parish as spiritual custodians.
The day which was celebrated on Sunday the 8th of September, was graced by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, our prelate in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. We had a couple of intentions to pray for: 1. Thanking God for such a milestone in spiritual growth, in faith and charity. 2. Praying for 21 couples who solemnized their marriage 3. Seeking God’s grace for the future of this community of faith. 4. Launching of the Strategic Plan and music CD of St. Vincent Pallotti’s choir and lastly praying for the completion of the ongoing construction of the Presbytery (Fathers’ House).
The Parish that was established on 13th of August 1989 by the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga, had a lot to celebrate. As the parish covers areas of Dagoretti North and Dagoretti South Constituencies in Nairobi, the day brought even people of far distant areas because of the cherished institution of marriage.
In 1989 when the parish was being established, it brought into one parish different station churches from three different parishes. From Guadalupe Parish, we got St. Vincent Pallotti church- Dagoretti. From St. John Riruta Parish, we got St. Francis of Assisi – Gatina, St. Jude – Satellite and St. Joseph – Dagoretti Market. And from Regina Caeli Parish we got Sacred Heart – Ngando.
Currently the Parish is composed of three churches after the splitting of one big Dagoretti Parish into two Parishes on 29th July, 2007. We have at the moment: St. Vincent Pallotti church, which is the main church, St. Francis of Assisi church and Sacred Heart church Ngando.
The starting from scratch of this parish in 1989 was spearheaded by the first East African Pallottine Priest, the late Rev. Fr. George Damball. Around this time, the church had no permanent structures; priests were housed in one of the Christian’s house. But still the work of evangelization, bringing people together and plan for the future of the parish was going on.
It was in the 90’s that the future of the parish started to take shape and putting on of permanent structures began. Immensely work was done by predecessors of Fr. George. Fr. Noel O’Connor did a tremendous job and work hard to give Sacred Heart Parish a good foundation that is here to stay for many years. The church of Ngando, which was thought to be the parish center was built in 1993, and thinking of centrality, the headquarters was moved to Dagoretti Corner. St. Vincent Church was built in 1995, and it became the center of parish administration. St. Francis Church was built from the year 1995 and inaugurated in 1997.
Apart from Frs. George and Noel, Sacred Heart Parish has been served by a good number of Pallottines: Frs. Michael Coen, John McDonough, Remy Matanga, Sylvery Nkuu, Aloysius Kijanga (diocesan), Remi Mushy, John Karanja, Mathew Sanka, Phirmin Mwenda, Sixberth Mrumbi, Innocent Chami, John Makabe and Cyril Ingosi. Currently the parish is served by Fr. Msuri Emmanuel, Fr. Stephen Lwebuga and Bro. Faustine Mrumbe, a transitional student to priesthood who is doing his pastoral placement.
As we celebrate this anniversary, it is good to know that the first christening was done at St. Vincent church on 23rd of December 1989. From that first baptism, that number has grown to 15,553 baptised persons, 6,343 have received their first holy communion, 3,777 have been confirmed and 890 have solemnized their marriages. The number of Small Christian Communities has risen to 64 in the parish, with 16 ecclesial and devotional groups.
Have we discovered new grounds? Yes. The parish has been blessed to witness a progressive joy of living the mysteries of Christ, who has brought more joy and unity of purpose, the revived and committed faith and love. There is maturity to the life of sacraments, in devotion, in ministry and in self-reliance. Our life and faith formation journey is witnessing a deep sense of love of our liturgies and an embrace of the life that is attached to Christ and His church. Commitment of men and women in different ministries is seen among the poor, in peace and justice, to the elderly and the sick, volunteerism in pastoral activities and catechesis, and a true engagement of our youths and children.
A good number of children and youths are coming out and own their position in church through their specified groups. Thank God, in the spirit of collaboration, our different programs meant to nurture the spirituality and life empowerment are receiving a response in different groups. Indeed, the church here in Dagoretti has the future because the young ones are willing, and eagerly ready to serve Christ and His church.
Like St. Paul in Philipians 3 who calls for each one of us to strain on what is ahead, to press on for the future, so does Sacred Heart Parish – Dagoretti. Focusing on the future with determination, guided by the Holy Spirit and inspired by our Pallottine motto ‘the Love of Christ Urges Us On,’ we are determined through the grace of God to work on these following areas:
- The continual building up of the Body of Christ that is geared towards Holy Life in Sacraments and in Prayer.
- Character Formation as Inspired by the Gospel Values and heroic virtues.
- A responsive and transformative leadership that withdraws from Christ an inspiration of being a servant and volunteering spirit.
- Safeguarding of the vulnerable and improved Parish household living.
We trust and hope for another good journey of faith, commitment and a devoted family and people of God. God’s loving care and His graces are sufficient for each one of us for another worthy living of our calls as holy people, created in the image and likeness of God who are called to be apostles.
Our sincere thanks to all those who have made Sacred Heart Parish to be what it is and to those who continue contributing immensely in different aspects of parish life. The body of Christ, the church, needs each one of us, let us live the character of our baptisms. In the words of Pallotti, let us live the apostolic zeal, let us try to prevent the eternal loss of a neighbor through the gifts of nature and grace and help others enjoy the abundance and the beauty of a gracious life.
Through the mercies of the Sacred Heart Heart, the intercessions of St. Vincent Pallotti, herald of the universal apostolate and St. Francis of Assisi, may we obtain the necessary graces to live the apostolic zeal, make every engagement holy, seek the honor of God and all be for the salvation of souls.
Father Emmanuel Msuri SAC