The vocation promotion in Kailahun of the Diocese of Kenema
From the 6th of February to 8th 2018 we, Father Patrick Santianez (the Vocation Director of the Xaverian Missionaries), Sr. Beatrice Adamsay Sesay (Vocation Directress of the Clarissan Sisters) and myself, Fr. Francois Noah, traveled to Kailahun in the Diocese of Kenema. Makeni is around 480 km from Kailahun. Most of the road is tarmac. Only the last section is being tarred by a Chinese company. The motivation for this first trip was to discover where the young people from Kailahun who joined the December 2017 Come and See live. Four of them travelled from Kailahun to Makeni last December 2017 in order to participate in the “Come and See program” organized by the Xaverian Fathers in the Regional house. The determination which these young people showed, prompted our decision to move towards them. In Kenema we joined Father James Jamiru, the vocation director of the Diocese of Kenema, who led us through the diocese of Kenema, passing by Kailahun and Koindu at the border with Guinea and Liberia, and other places.
After five hours of travel, we reached the secondary school of Pendembu, where we encountered Sr. Happiness from Handmaids of the Child Jesus, who led us to talk to some of the students. The message was welcomed and several pertinent questions came out from the students in order to understand better about the priestly and religious vocation. Some of the students provided their personal addresses for a follow up. After a good launch in the sisters’ house, we continued to Kailahun where the Clarissan sisters welcomed us along with the parish priest and the youths. The sisters provided us with food and lodging. After a brief break we sat down for a meeting with the Kailahun youths divided into two groups: boys on our Xaverian side and the girls on the sister’s side. Vocation as the central theme of the meeting. The meeting lasted for two hours because of the variety of questions and the enthusiasm they showed, with eagerness to know about the vocation to priesthood and religious life.
The next day, before we travelled to Koindu District, we visited a Secondary school called National Junior and Senior Secondary Schools where the parish priest, Father Henry Bayon, is the principal. He provided an opportunity to present the vocation to religious and priestly life to some students. Arriving in Koindu we were welcomed by Father Alfred, who also provided the occasion to present the vocation to young students. We concluded the trip in Koindu with the visit on Guinea border. On our way back to Kenema, we visited another school in Segwema. Finally we stopped by Kenema in order to greet Bishop Patrick Koroma.
We noticed some important points to take into consideration: firstly, the collaboration between the Clarissan sister, the diocesan priests and the Xaverian Missionaries as a vocational team is encouraging. Secondly, the enthusiasm of the young people we found in Kailahun, Koindu, Pendembu and Segwema is impressive. Third, the welcoming of the Clarissan sisters, the parish priests of Kailahun and Koindu is worth keeping. Finally the eagerness of some of the young people about the vocation and of the church is inspiring. However, there are some challenges to face: the distance between Makeni and Kailahun, though the roads are being completed, will remain a factor. Secondly, the problem of the WASCCE for most of these young people is still an enigma. Thirdly, the effort to visit and encounter the families of these young people in a process of accompaniment needs to be made. Hoping in the Lord, we may one day reap the fruits with some Xaverian missionary vocations from that area.