Table of Contents – Summer-Fall 2009 – CTF-SOS DRS Newsletter
My participation during CTF Thailand-Myanmar Mission #2 inspired me with a burning desire to continue to serve the Lord through serving His people. On December 23, 2008, I returned to Indonesia where I spent a nostalgic month with my family. On the 5th anniversary of the Tsunami in Banda Aceh (December 26), we recalled the tragedy with both sorrow and gratitude. The loss of my sister and others during this assault of nature left us all with spiritual scars that only our prayers can soften.
Despite the sadness, the time with my family served as a rejuvenating preparation for the events to come.
While I was in Bangkok, Thailand Fr. Scott asked me to inquire about obtaining a visa to Rome so that I could participate in the CTF Leaders conference scheduled for February 2009. I was very grateful to be considered for such an opportunity, and I initiated the necessary arrangements. After the conclusion of my missionary work in Bangkok and Myanmar (December 2008), I visited the Italian embassy in Indonesia. I obtained the necessary information and forwarded it to Fr. Scott. Brother Luca Perletti in Rome assisted me by sending me an official letter of invitation. On February 5, 2009 I was granted a 3-month visa by the Italian Embassy.
Although my flight itinerary included a trip to Kenya after going to Rome, it was not necessary to apply for a Kenyan visa while in Indonesia. It was my understanding that it would be possible to apply for such at the airport in Nairobi.
Prior to my departure for Rome, though, Fr. Scott had asked me to prepare myself to remain in Kenya for at least one year. I knew this extended stay would present an emotional and spiritual challenge for me. It was not easy for me to leave my country, my family, my friends and my food. I knew, however, that it was God’s will for me to take this leap of faith on behalf of those whose lives I would be enhancing through the service I would offer during the time in Kenya. I also knew that I would be acquiring priceless experience and making many new friends. And I felt that this was what the Lord wanted from me. So with much thought and prayer I finalized my decision to leave my country of Indonesia.
I was quite grateful for the opportunity to attend the CTF Leaders Conference in Rome, Italy – the seat of the Catholic Church. In addition to a desire to serve Christ through my work with the CTF, I was also eagerly anticipating the opportunity to enjoy the renowned artistic masterpieces of the Holy City!
On February 6, 2009 I flew from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) to Singapore and then to Rome. I arrived at the airport in Rome at 6:00 a.m.. I was blessed to meet two sisters from Papua, New Guinea who had arrived to continue their studies. Our conversation about Indonesia, New Guinea and spiritual matters infused me with great inspiration, and helped me to agreeably pass some time.
Shortly after I had retrieved my luggage, Fr. Scott picked me up and drove me to the Maddalena, the mother house of the Camillians in Rome. It was a delightful setting. I found the people I encountered there to be very warm and hospitable.
On my first day at the community Fr. Scott guided me through the house and the church. He recounted the history of Saint Camillus de Lellis . I was most impressed by the amazing relics of St. Camillus – including his heart and his bones! Even after hundreds of years, the community managed to safeguard and treasure some of the saint’s belongings such as his letters and shoes.
Following my tour, I was introduced to the residents of the community, and then Fr. Scott and I enjoyed lunch. Those present included Fr. Renato Salvatore, MI (Father General), Fr. Jesus Ruiz, MI (Vicar General), Br. Luca Perletti, MI (Secretary General, Missions), Fr. Paulo Guarise, MI (Ministry, the former delegate of Kenya), Fr. Babychan P, MI (Formation), Fr. Francisco and Fr. Locci.
At that first meal I savored pasta (spaghetti), mushrooms, beans, potatoes and pork – but to my dismay, no rice!! I was initially a bit hesitant about this new food because it was so unfamiliar to me. At home in Indonesia our meals normally always include rice. Nevertheless, I tried to enjoy the unfamiliar dishes. Day by day I became more accustomed to Italian cuisine, and finally I learned to appreciate it – although I continued to miss my usual Indonesian fare. On one occasion I was treated to Chinese food, which was pleasantly similar to the food of my own country.
My purposes in traveling to Kenya were to foster the growth of the CTF and to study clinical pastoral education (CPE) at the Servants of the Sick Training Center in Nairobi. Fr. Scott had been wanting to expand the CTF to include a Kenyan location since 2004. His dreams were finally being realized.
CTF-SOS DRS Kenya: Alice Sarry, Gideon Karuri, Theresia Sinaga and Fr. John Mosoti
On Monday, March 16, 2009 Fr. Scott and I flew to Kenya where we were greeted at the airport by Fr. Raphael Otieno. He drove us to Bolech House in Nairobi, one of the Kenyan Camillian communities (Dennis Pritt Rd 39, Caledonia, Nairobi, Kenya). Fr. Scott and I both used our time constructively–napping! Fr. Raphael woke us to inform us that we had arrived at our destination.
During breakfast, Fr. Scott updated us about his works and experiences as the CTF coordinator. Afterwards, I once again attempted to catch up on my rest. Sleep did not come easily, however. Aside from the residents, the community also served as a home for seven dogs, three of which were still puppies. They were quite vocal, and their incessant yelps helped neither my rest nor prayer.
This first day in Kenya, March 16, 2009 will be forever imprinted in my memory.
In the afternoon I met Carola who workes as the Kenyan coordinator for Salute e Sviluppo. At 8:00 p.m., Fr. Scott and I met for dinner. We were joined by Fr. Raphael Otieno and Fr. John Mosoti, the supervisor of the Camillian Pastoral Center in Kenya. During dinner and for some time afterward, we discussed our accomplishments as CTF. It was enjoyable to share our activities and our mission with individuals who have similar vocational goals and commitments.
Prior to retiring, Fr. John introduced us to the boisterous canine sentry team, which actually proved to be quite a friendly group when we were properly introduced. Fr. John Mosoti informed us that they were ” the vicious guardians of the community”.
The following morning and each day thereafter, Fr. Scott and I prayed the WMR, spent time with Christ in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and celebrated Holy Mass. We worked, etc and then at three o’clock we met to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My prayer life continues to flourish in Kenya.
The food in Kenya is unique and unlike any fare that I have ever known On a daily basis we enjoy ugali (corn porridge) that is made from maize flour and is recognized as the Kenyan national dish. The cooks – Adrian, Lilian and Theresia – also prepare pasta and chapati, my favorite. I am thankful for the love and care they show in preparing these delicious dishes.
I attended several meetings whose aim was the expansion of CTF-SOS DRS through collaboration with a network of Camillian entities – CTF-SOS DRS, Salute e Sviluppo, the Camillian Sisters, Fr.John Mosoti (Director of the Camillian Pastoral Center) and Fr. James Wanjau (Provincial Delegate). CTF-SOS DRS is now working together with the pastoral center in Nairobi. We are grateful to Fr. John Mosoti for providing us with an office. CTF-SOS DRS has enhanced the pastoral center by providing internet at the Servants of the Sick Training Center. We hope to continue this opportunity to serve God and people through the pastoral center. The CTF intends to continue to send students to the Training Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and to fund their training.
The Servants of the Sick Training Center s operated by the Camillians under the direction and supervision of Fr. John Mosoti, a Camillian priest and psychologist. I must be honest in expressing that my interest in taking the CPE courses was initially only mild at best. When Fr. Scott explained the goodness that can be accomplished with the knowledge obtained from the CPE curriculum and offered to fund my studies, I finally agreed. I submitted my application to Fr. John who subsequently interviewed me. I also had an interview with Sr. Dervilla O’ Donnel, a nurse and sister of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. The interview was challenging, but I believe I communicated well. Both supervisors questioned my intentions in taking the course and explained the curriculum to me. Upon learning more about the course, my ambition increased and I became quite enthusiastic. I prayed that I would be accepted and for God’s grace in helping me to complete the course. I later continued my prayers that he would help me to persever.
Servants of the Sick Training Center Students: Sr. Dervilla O’ Donnel (supervisor), Br. Thomas Makori, Sr. Susan Wango Munyangia, Theresia Sinaga, Br. Gabriel Maina, Veronica Biyaki and Jackline Njeri
On May 25, 2009 I began my studies -the birthday of St. Camillus! I made a number of friends, most of whom were of African descent. Needless to say, I was the only Indonesian. Of the 13 students, three were priests (Fr. Dominic N’Juve, Fr. Dominic Musyoki and Fr. Thomas Apil), two were Camillian sisters (Sr. Susan Wango Munyangia [1st unit] and Sr. Salome) three were Camillian brothers (Br. Raphael N’ Dungu, Br. Thomas Makori [1st unit] and Br. Gabriel Maina [1st unit]), one was a Notre Dame sister from Nigeria (Sr. Eunice Dagi – (see CTF Kenya-Camillians’ Pastoral Response to Nakumatt Fires in Nairobi), and four were lay people (Monica, Jacqline Njerji [2nd unit], Veronica Biyaki [2nd unit] and myself). Sr. Eunice had already completed two units of CPE training and was present to commence a third unit. Three of the students had completed the first unit and the remaining nine, including myself, were just beginning our studies.
The CPE curriculum includes 270 hours of training in ministry practicum (27 hours per week) and the preparation of a verbatim each week. I was assigned to Kenyatta National Hospital and Mathare Psychiatric Hospital.
Kenyatta National Hospital is a public hospital where I served in the surgical ward. The Mathare Psychiatric Hospital has person who are mentally ill. My greatest challenge was the language. Most of the patients spoke Swahili, the most common language in the locality. The first and second weeks of my studies presented incredible tribulation, and I must admit that I was quite inclined to resign. It was particularly difficult for me to deal with my own feelings and past while listening to the patients recount their sadness, their rejection, their anger and the losses of family members and loved ones. I felt as if I did not have the answers to help them cope with their sorrows. One of the patients, A 15-year old girl, was diagnosed with cancer of her lips seven years ago. She asked me, “Am I going to die?” I was uncertain how I should answer her. After a period of silence I had to admit that I did not know. Her predicament brought me to tears and brought back memories of my younger sister, Anastasia, who died at a very untimely age in the Tsunami of Dec 26, 2004.
I offer thanks to God that my supervisor, Sr. Dervilla O’Donnel, remained by my side during my ministry practicum. Her presence helped me emotionally in numerous ways while challenging me to learn and to become a better human being. My other new friends and Fr. Scott were also a source of support, enlightenment and inspiration. I could not give up because I realized that I was being faced with the reality of life. The experience infused me with a sincere zeal toward my studies.
During the fifth week, I began contemplating the possibility of becoming a CPE supervisor in my own country. I recalled my own despair during my hospital stay following the Tsunami. Nobody was available for the patients to speak with regarding their feelings. My CPE training, in conjunction with my own experiences and reflections, has increased my awareness regarding the importance of providing emotional and spiritual care to people who are suffering: disaster victims, the sick, the poor, the abused. One of my dreams for the future is to open a CTF-SOS DRS pastoral center in my own country of Indonesia. I will pray and hope for this opportunity.
Theresia Sinaga (Center) at the Servants of the Sick Training Center Graduation with CTF-SOS DRS member Alice Sarry and volunteer Gideon Karuri
On August 1, 2009 I finished the CPE course. The insights and knowledge I acquired will remain in my heart, soul and mind forever. I would have liked to have been able to register for the next CPE unit, but I will be unable to do so at present,. I have been accepted at Hekima College, a part of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. I will be doing a master’s degree in peace studies and international relations. But I hope and pray that the opportunity to do CPE will present itself again in the future after I have completed my studies.
On the last day that I visited the Mathare Hospital, a patient who had resided there for 5 months poignantly questioned the reason for my anticipated departure. He seemed dismayed that I would not be returning, and he told me how much my presence had helped him. It was wonderful moment. All the patients thanked me for visiting them. Many had been rejected by the family members because of their illness. Despite their afflictions, they are human beings like you and I. And they require the love and support of others. I was happy for the opportunity to personify Christ in their lives. He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt: 25: 35-36). He was my inspiration throughout.
I thank the Lord for introducing me to the CPE courses through Fr. Scott, for my instructors, and for my friends who have supported me. I thank you, the reader, for your prayers and your support. May God continue to bless us all!
Susan M. Stefanski, Assistant Editor, CTF-SOS DRS Online Newsletter
Table of Contents – Summer-Fall 2009 – CTF-SOS DRS Newsletter