Cyprian Fernandes: What the church said about Kenya Goans in 1968

A reader of the blog left this priceless evidence of the appreciation of the Goan community in Kenya:

A million thanks whoever you are:

Editorial in CATHOLIC MIRROR (Nairobi, Kenya), March, 1968 .Page Four.

GOAN CATHOLICS

The spotlight in recent weeks, has been turned full on the exodus of many Asians from Kenya. Among those who have departed are a number of Goan families from Nairobi and other centres in the country. Their departure must necessarily remind us of the extraordinary contributions the Goans of Kenya have made to the Catholic Church and Catholic life in this country.

They came here bringing with them a tradition of Catholic worship and family life, which stretched back more than four centuries to the great apostle of their homeland, St Francis Xavier. In their own country – an area surrounded by non-Christian communities – they had developed that Christian tradition. It centred on a great devotion to the central act of worship of the Church, the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Eucharist. It found strength in their love of Mary, the Mother of God, and St. Francis Xavier.

The older generation passed on their faith to those who followed them and many a missionary in Kenya in the last hundred years has had reason to thank God for the example of Catholic life of this people. Their loyalty to their faith and their unhesitating generosity in the material support of the Church and its spread to others are too well known to need emphasis. One need but mention a few of the monuments to this generosity – the Holy Family Cathedral in Nairobi, St.Francis Xavier’s Church, the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools and the Church at Eastleigh.

They were generous to a fault when it came to giving to God, whether that giving involved the sacrifice of their time and comfort in working for such societies as that of St. Vincent de Paul or the Legion of Mary, or delving into their resources to build churches where God would be worshipped or schools where their children would receive a true Christian education.

It is only natural then that the Catholic community, comprising people of every race, should regret the necessity that makes many of these fellow-Catholics leave us in Kenya. The Church will be poorer, spiritually and materially, for their going; but the countries to which they go will be the richer for their coming. Those who remain will, we know, continue the tradition of loyalty to their faith of the Goans.

Those who are leaving will carry with them the thanks of their fellow-Catholics and missionaries and the prayerful wish that all will go well for them in their new homes. To all, whether they go or stay, might be applied the words of Pope Pius XI regarding another small catholic race, the Irish, whom persecution and economic necessity compelled to leave their homeland, a hundred years ago: “Like God’s pure air, they are everywhere; and everywhere they are doing good.”