KENYA: ‘Youth, mothers need our consolation’, Says Consolata Priest in Reflection of Mission in South Africa

By Paschal Norbert 

NAIROBI, NOVEMBER 30, 2023 (CISA)In a reflection of the experiences of mission in South Africa by Consolata Missionaries, Fr Nathaniel Kagwima IMC has appealed for prayers and help to the young people and young mothers in the country, noting that the youth are increasingly disenfranchised and cases of broken families are on the rise.

Fr Nathaniel Kagwima IMC, Superior Delegate of Consolata Missionaries in South Africa/Eswatini region.

“We need a lot of prayers in South Africa. The reality of the economy and speaking especially about young people without jobs and families. Recently we have had nine days of revival, it is a program we were having of prayer sessions and sharing on various themes. Out of that we experienced the brokenness of the majority of those we serve and therefore I realized that we really need to give them a consoling hand more than a sentimental attitude for there are many children without fathers- so the father figure is absent,” said Fr Kagwima in an interview with CISA on November 28.

According to the Superior Delegate of Consolata Missionaries in South Africa/Eswatini region, the youth in South Africa face a myriad of challenges including high levels of unemployment, limited access to quality education, economic inequality, crime rates, and social issues, such as substance abuse and violence.

In South Africa, two-fifths of children grow up in single-parent homes. According to research by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the South African Race Relations Institute (SARRI), 60% of South African children have absent fathers and more than 40% of South African mothers are single parents.

This worrying situation, which is more pronounced in the rural than urban areas is attributed to the effects of apartheid, lack of education and poverty among single motherhood in South Africa.

Fr Kagwima expounds, “We have many youths on drugs, we have many young people in violent families and we also have many women who are the breadwinners of the family or who are in the family that the children are mixed, in that a daughter is having four or five children from different fathers and a good number are also sickly.”

“The society is swept up with many challenges that need consolation and therefore I validate that our presence there is highly appreciated and needed because the majority of the people there are wounded,” he adds.

The Consolata Missionary maintains that the mission in South Africa resonates with their charism of putting their lives in service of the Gospel and sharing with people the experience of Christ, the true Consolation of God.

“A good number are also living a good life, a better life and fulfilled life but we are sent there to console all of them and therefore our relevance in a society that is not so traditionally identified as a nuclear family but a society that’s so mixed and with different situations of families. Pray for us so that we may continue serving young people and for vocations, especially for local vocations even if we pray for vocations to Consolata and other congregations, we need to pray for the dioceses, they have insufficient priests,” he says.

The Consolata Missionaries have been present in South Africa since March 10, 1971, when the first two Consolata priests: Frs Jack Viscardi and John Bertè, were sent to establish a missionary presence in the country in the then  Apostolic Prefecture of Volksrust, which is today, the Catholic Diocese of Dundee. From here the missionaries have spread to the dioceses of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and the Kingdom of eSwatini in Manzini.