Vocation Story. Kenya. Feeling grateful

A missionary vocation that comes from the family. Commitment in the parish community. Contact with missionaries. Studies. A first experience as a priest among the Pokot, and now in Spain to study communications. Father Obwaya Justus Oseko, a 35-year-old Kenyan, talks to us about his vocational journey.

I was born on February 12, 1988, in the Gucha District, Kisii County, Kenya to a Catholic family. I believe that my missionary vocation was born within my family.

Every Saturday it was customary for my family to gather to read and reflect together on the Word of God, usually the text of the following day’s Gospel. My father played a crucial role in these meetings. He asked each of us to read the text and then invited us to share what had touched us personally. On the other hand, my mother was very insistent that we recite the Rosary, a prayer that always nourished my faith and helped me understand the importance of the Virgin Mary in our journey of life.

These family experiences of closeness to God encouraged me to join the vocational group at my parish, Our Lady of the Assumption, in Nyamagwa, where the seed my parents had planted grew. So, I committed myself to being an altar server to help the priests during the Eucharistic celebrations.

After finishing high school, I started attending the choir of the Queen of Apostles parish in Nyakegogi. During this period, I learned music and when the two main choir masters were absent, I led the group’s rehearsals myself. My presence in the choir allowed me to meet many people involved in the Church and to meet the Comboni Missionaries for the first time.

I remember one day a friend of mine gave me a brochure that explained who they were. Reading it produced in me great amazement and the desire to serve the neediest through missionary life. Unfortunately, the decisions made by children are not always easy for parents to accept. It may seem contradictory, but my father, who had influenced me so much to become a good Christian, did not want me to become a priest. He was convinced that the best thing for me was to be a doctor. It took a lot of reflection and discussion between the two of us for him to accept my decision.

I was enthusiastic about the example of the founder of the Comboni Missionaries, Saint Daniel Comboni, and his determination to serve and alleviate the suffering of the poor. Knowing the life of this saint was an epiphany for me that motivated me to want to follow in his footsteps, join the congregation and collaborate in his missionary work.

I wrote to the Comboni priest in charge of vocations and he responded by inviting me to participate in a vocational meeting of candidates for the priesthood on the theme “Come and see”, where I reaffirmed my option for the missionary life.

Shortly after that, I entered pre-postulancy, which is a time of preparation before starting my studies in Philosophy. I experienced this first stage in the Mukuru Kwa Reuben neighbourhood of Nairobi, at the centre managed by the Sisters of Mercy, founded by Catherine McAuley. During my stay, I participated in numerous social activities and became close to the suffering of many people.

This service to the poor increased in me the desire to serve them following the example of Saint Daniel Comboni. At the end of the pre-postulancy I was very happy and satisfied with the work done; My desire to be a missionary and serve those most in need had increased.

In 2010, I began my postulancy and, therefore, my philosophical studies. Then I left my country for the first time to go to Lusaka, Zambia. The two years of novitiate were wonderful because I had a profound experience of God’s grace, which I felt was undeserved.

I then went to study theology in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. After completing this stage in 2018, I was sent to the parish of Amakuriat, in the northwest of Kenya, for my missionary service, a stage of pastoral preparation before priestly ordination. They were two very rich years during which I accompanied the semi-nomadic Pokot populations. On August 6, 2020 I was ordained a priest.

During my experience in Kenya as a priest, I had the opportunity to accompany different groups of people and share their sufferings and joys. I have always been stimulated by the simple faith and joy of people who, despite many difficulties, keep hope alive.

My short missionary life has so far been a journey that I have made with effort and constant spiritual renewal. Prayer is not optional for a missionary, but fundamental. Prayer helps me to know myself better, introduces me to a constant struggle to free myself from superfluous aspects of myself, and encourages the acquisition of fundamental values to serve the Mission. I feel that the Lord is calling me to have a loving relationship with Him and by living this relationship I will be able to reflect God’s mercy and help others.

Every time I think about my life, I feel the need to show my sincere gratitude to all the people who have contributed positively to my journey of faith and closer to God. I feel happy, with a happiness that I cannot express in words. If it weren’t for faith in God, I would be running around like a headless chicken, loud and rushing through life.

Now a new stage has begun for me. For less than a year I have been in Spain, on the one hand, to accompany groups of young people to be open to the mission and on the other to study Digital Communications with the hope that everything I learn will be a tool to better communicate the Mission.

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