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Grants for Small Christian Communities Go Beyond Catholic Families: Subsidy Administrator

Small Christian Community Training

Financial aid channeled through Small Christian Communities (SCCs) within the Eastern Africa countries in an effort to combat malaria epidemic goes beyond Catholic families to benefit members of society regardless of their religious affiliation, the administrator of the grants has told ACI Africa.

“We are happy to support SCCs buy (mosquito) nets to combat the killer disease malaria,” Fr. Joseph Healey of the Maryknoll Society who administers the grant said.

“The funds which are applied through SCCs benefit anyone in need irrespective of religion,” Fr. Healey disclosed, explaining that “the mosquito nets are given to identified members who need help whether they are Catholics or not.” 

Speaking about the recent beneficiaries of the grant he administers, the Nairobi-based Maryknoll Father said, “We received applications from two SCCs, one in Kenya and another in Uganda requesting funds for the same intention to buy treated mosquito nets.”

This particular request coincided with the launch of a malaria vaccine by the government of Kenya, Fr. Healey noted and recalled, “It was such a coincidence that when the SCCs were buying mosquito nets and taking other preventing measures for malaria, the Kenya government launched a malaria vaccine.”

Known by the Swahili expression “mfuko wa jumuia,” loosely translated as “subsidy for Small Christian Community,” the fund is administered through dioceses and parishes and has been in existence for the last five years, Fr. Healey revealed.

“The grant given to SCCs is from different partners and well-wishers,” Fr. Healey told ACI Africa in an exclusive interview and added, “Some of the partners are Porticus (who) support with the money for child safeguarding (program), Maryknoll fathers, and private donors.”

“The fund is specifically for SCCs. We raise money from different funding partners and it goes to the AMECEA SCC training team,” the American priest who is a specialist in SCCs explained, highlighting the capacity building role of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in promoting the way of being Church through SCCs.

“SCC is not just a program or a project in the parish but a way of life and SCC can be involved in a number of activities and events such as clearing garbage, planting trees, visiting the sick etc.,” Fr. Healey who has researched and published extensively on SCCs said and clarified, “This means community response and so it’s not individual helping individual but it is the community helping.”

“In Kenya there are 45,000 SCCs and 180,000 SCCs in the 9 AMECEA counties,” Fr. Healey told ACI Africa, displaying his knowledge of SCCs not only in Kenya but also in AMECEA where he has ministered for five decades.

Fr. Healey founded the office of Social Communications of AMECEA in 1968 and was the press secretary for the pastoral visit of Pope Paul VI to Uganda in 1969, the first known Papal visit to Africa, when the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) was officially launched.

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