Catholic partnership will bring Kenyans to Red WingSince 2004, Catholics in the Twin Cities have been creating bonds with Catholics in Kenya, and a local church recently decided to get involved.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Since 2004, Catholics in the Twin Cities have been creating bonds with Catholics in Kenya, and a local church recently decided to get involved.
The Church of St. Joseph in Red Wing joined the Global Solidarity Partnership between the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya. Through the partnership, Catholics in both districts focus on strengthening faith, building relationships and sharing resources.
“It’s a partnership based on mutuality,” said Julie Woodruff, a Church of St. Joseph’s parishioner. “It’s about them getting to know the people in our parish and our community, and about us getting to know them as friends.”
Woodruff knows firsthand the effects the partnership can have on everyone, from individual parishioners to entire churches and communities involved. She was one of 13 people to travel to Kenya last year.
“I will never take water, paved roads and access to medical care for granted again,” she said. “The people of Kenya live with scarce resources — especially a lack of water — but in the midst of it they are joy-filled, faith-filled people.”
Trips between the two countries have been organized regularly since the partnership between the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Diocese of Kitui, Kenya, began.
“One year we send a delegation to Kenya, the next year they send one to our archdiocese and then the third year is a year of implementation,” Woodruff explained.
Since 2012 is the year for Kenyans to travel, Woodruff decided she wanted to return the hospitality she experienced last year and become a host.
Sister Stellamaris Mwelu Muthama and Joyce Mwikiali Mukaiwa Mutui are two of 10 delegates who will visit Minnesota starting Thursday. They will stay with Woodruff while the other eight visitors are hosted by parishioners from the Church of St. Joseph in Rosemount, Minn., St. Pius X Catholic Church in White Bear Lake, Minn., Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, Minn., and St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Carver, Minn.
While everyone’s schedule from Sept. 27 through Oct. 4 will vary based on where they’re staying, the entire delegation will come together Oct. 5-8 to hold workshops and Masses in the Twin Cities. Each planned activity allows the Minnesotans and Kenyans to become closer based on the goals of their Global Solidarity Partnership.
“Again it’s about relationship,” Woodruff said. “Everything we do is shared.”
Muthama is 50 years old and works as an administrator for the Muthale Mission Hospital, which is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Kitui. In the past she has worked as a social worker, public health nurse and auxiliary nurse in various convent hospitals.
Mutui is employed as the head teacher at the Kitui School for the Deaf. The 46-year-old is not deaf herself, but has years of experience working with those who are.
Keeping in mind Muthama’s history with health care and Mutui’s involvement with the deaf, “we have set up a schedule for their visit based on their interests,” Woodruff explained.
Some of the highlights will include tours of Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Wabasha, as well as a trip to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for a liturgy for the deaf and an opportunity to visit with hearing impaired students in the Red Wing School District, among other activities.
Ultimately, it’s the interaction with local residents that the Kenyans will most appreciate during their stay, Woodruff said.
“Visiting with people — learning about their lives and about their faith,” she explained. “They are eager to learn about our way of life.”