Feeling with the Church

If these boys can do what they are doing.” He silently asked himself, “Why can l not do it too? Are they more gifted than me?”  These questions bothered him and he started developing a desire to become an altar boy. In many ways this could be said to have been the start of his vocation. He recalls an epiphanous episode one day when he was going to school. He saw a cross on which a man had seemingly been nailed. He did not know what the cross signified or what it was all about and even after getting serious about Mass attendance he still did not know what the cross signified or who the person hanging on it really was.

One thing he knew there was a man hanged on that cross and he looked dead, “I knew that whoever was on that cross had done something wrong,” he recalls, “I also could see that he was on the verge of death or already dead. In his Catechism lessons, he had been taught that if someone was on the verge of death one needed a priest to give the last rites so that he could die in God’s grace. “I proceeded to school in great disturbance. I figure out if l had been a priest I would have helped this man die in peace. I told myself that l should become a priest so that I could save dying souls such as this one.” He harboured this ambition throughout the remaining period of his primary school days.

   John Cardinal Njue, the fourth Archbishop of Nairobi for 12 years has demonstrated that to achieve greatness and to serve the people in a superlative way does not take a special talent. Nor does it take super human power. A man of rare depth of soul, a pious prelate and a suave administrator, Njue came to Nairobi, saw how it was and, by the time he retired from active administration duties, he had changed the way the Archdiocese operated, given new meaning to the words “devotion and selflessness” and shown how self-reliance can work towards empowering and dignifying people.

His Eminence really personalized and lived the well-known proverb we were all taught in our childhood that, “The early bird catches the worm.” Having lived in the same residence with the Cardinal for 12 years, I cannot recall any time that he woke up later than 4am. By 4.30 am he would be in the chapel praying his Divine Mercy and preparing for Mass before going to the office to start working at 7 am. His appetite for work literally swallowed his appetite for eating and he would go the whole day without food apart from dinner which he faithfully took by 7:30 pm. He retired to bed by 9 pm after his night prayers. Cardinal believed in playing his rightful role and giving the best of his ability, and would always jokingly state “I do what I can and leave the rest to God, or else what is he doing there upstairs.” 

The Cardinal was and has always been the moral equivalent of Gamaliel, teaching and guiding his flock and his subjects in a way that they would remember all the days of their lives. Always a team player per excellence and over generous and compassionate to all, he never left any person behind in the journey of empowerment and growth to holiness.

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