Photo story published in U.S. Catholic, March 2009

The growing Kenyan church responds to the challenges of a young democracy.

“Our mother, Kenya, we love you so much; we need you again,” sing the students at St. Joseph Freinademetz Primary School in Ruai, outside of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

In early 2008 Kenya abandoned her children.

When violence broke out following the contested December 27, 2007 election, about 1,150 people were killed and 300,000 displaced. For three months students weren’t in school. Homes, farms, and businesses were burned to the ground, and the economy ground to a halt.

Young people set up road barricades around the country, demanding tolls from passersby and attacking people of the wrong tribe. In the Diocese of Kitale, three altar boys wouldn’t let their own parish priest through one barricade.

“All of them were Christian of some sort, but it didn’t prevent them from killing one another,” Bishop Maurice Crowley of Kitale says of the perpetrators of violence in Kenya, which is about 33 percent Catholic and 75 percent Christian. “The blood of tribalism runs thicker than the water of Baptism.” …


PDF of “Kenya rising” (Includes photography)

Online only sidebars:
The church fights for women’s rights in Kenya
Kenya: Missionary territory and the church’s future