Kenya: centenary celebrations at Nairobi's Basilica

 The Holy Family Minor Basilica, the cathedral parish of the Archbishop of Nairobi, will celebrate 100 years of its founding this Sunday. It was established as a parish church by the Holy Ghost Missionaries (now also known as the Spiritan Fathers). The father-in-charge of the Basilica, Fr Emmanuel Ngugi, said the climax of the centenary celebrations, which have been going on for some months, will be a Eucharistic celebration scheduled at the Basilica grounds starting at 10.30am. Most Rev Raphael Ndingi mwana 'a Nzeki, the Archbishop of Nairobi, will preside. Banners proclaiming Celebrating 100 Years in the Light of Christ, are already flying in parts of the city. Parishioners of the Basilica have been taking part in numerous goodwill activities as part of the celebration, Fr Emmanuel said. Last week parishioners helped 22 homeless people who had been camping in the Basilica grounds, to settle in new permanent homes. The families fled Kenya to Uganda during civil unrest in the 1990s and returned to Nairobi in April. One person donated a piece of land within the Diocese of Nyahururu, where they now have new homes. Another parish group went on a pilgrimage to the Village of Mary Mother of God Shrine in Naukuru, and the Legion of Mary visited patients at the Spinal Injury Hospital in Nairobi and presented them with gifts. The Basilica Catholic Women Association (CWA) visited Kibagare Children's Home and Kenyatta Hospital Cancer Unit in the city. Other parishioners visited Langata Women's Prison and Nyumba ya Wazee home for the elderly where the Archbishop Emeritus of Nairobi, His Eminence Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, spent his last days until he died on September 6, 2003). The Holy Family Minor Basilica was founded as a parish church in 1904 by the Holy Ghost Missionaries, at the present day Nairobi Railway Station. The Basilica, as it stands today, was built in 1960 as a cathedral, and can seat up to 4,000 people. It has one main altar, three side altars and eight chapels. Four Masses are celebrated each day and six on Sunday. Pope John Paul II elevated the then Holy Family Cathedral to a Minor Basilica in 1980, and has prayed in the church on each of the three occasions he has visited Kenya - in 1980, 1985, and 1995. Source: MISNA

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