THE JOY OF EXPERIENCING 30 DAYS RETREAT
Our Journey (Joseph Kindong, Elvost Lunchi, Nelson Kum, Kingsley Botambo, Conrad Yong and I) began on 12th May 2022 at 10 am from Nairobi to “Subukia” National Shrine in the Diocese of Nakuru. It’s a journey of a distance of about 193.5kilometers by road and approximately four hours ten minutes’ drive from Nairobi.
“Subukia” is derived from the Maasai word “Isupuku” which means “higher grounds”. In “Subukia”, there is a Shrine known as the “Village of Mary Mother of God or Nature Marian Shrine”, it is here that we had our 30 days retreat.
The foundation of the Shrine was Blessed by St. Pope John Paul II during his historic pastoral visit to Kenya on 7th May 1980. The Shrine is owned by the Kenya Episcopal Conference and is managed by the Conventual Friars Missionaries. Here, pilgrims come almost every day to pray and carry water from the Spring at the shrine. Also, there is a beautiful Church well designed in the shape of the Crown of Mary. It has twelve pillars which symbolize the twelve Apostles, and twelve corners extended to the roof symbolizing the twelve stars in Mary’s Crown. It can host 4500-5000 pilgrims.
Quite some people were asking us what we were to be doing for “thirty days”? Our retreat guide was sister Jennifer Simua, a Sacred Heart sister. The retreat was structured into four weeks, each week having a theme to guide us for that whole week. Each day we had a paper containing scriptural passages to contemplate, meditate and reflect upon. We were expected during these 30 days to detach ourselves from any form of distraction (e.g., social media, phone) and to observe silence throughout. We would meet sister individually every day to share our prayer experiences following the Ignatian Spirituality. The first four days were days of preparation with the main theme; “To know myself as God’s Child”.
The Theme for the First week was: “To know my sins fully, to experience a deeper repentance, and receive the tears, shame and confusion.”
During the second week, the theme which led us through was: “Grace, a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus, a strong love of Him and the desire to follow Him wherever He goes”; i.e., knowing God’s plans and love for me, his desires for me and to give myself to them.
The Theme for Week III: “Sorrow with Christ in Sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears and interior suffering because of the great suffering Christ endured for me”.
Week IV: “Grace: To be glad and to rejoice intensely because of the great glory and joy of Christ our risen Lord”. Each week ends with a day of repose to prepare us to enter into each new week within the retreat.
It was a great transformation in the spiritual pillar of formation where one can get to know oneself through a deep relationship with Christ. This retreat has opened our eyes to the reality of what it means to “follow me (Christ).” We remain ever grateful to the Mill Hill family for providing this opportunity to be spiritually transformed. As we prepare to fully respond to this invitation of Christ as Mill Hill Missionaries, all we ask of the Lord is his love and grace. That will be enough for us. By: Ndifor Collins.