University Students in Kenya Share Progress Three Months after Dialogue with Pope Francis

Pope Francis during the virtual dialogue with African Catholic students on Tuesday, November 1. Credit: PACTPAN

A section of young people from Catholic Universities in Kenya who participated in the virtual dialogue with Pope Francis last November have shared about the progress realized from the responses of the Holy Father concerning various issues including politics in the country.

On 1 November 2022, young people drawn from various Catholic Universities in Africa engaged with Pope Francis in a dialogue that was aimed at stirring full participation of the youth in the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality.

In his address, the Holy Father reminded the young Africans to always remember their past, to always dream, and to always live in the present, “with a firm grip on reality”.

Representing Kenyan youth in the November dialogue that the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) organized, Edda Nabwire narrated how young people in the East African nation are misused by politicians to cause violence.

In a Monday, February 13 interview with African Catholic Voices, an initiative of PACTAN, Ms. Nabwire and Calvin Omondi who were among five young cohorts of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) discussed their activities since encountering Pope Francis and also disclosed their future plans.


Omondi, a Seminarian in the Order of St. Augustine (Augustinians) and cohort leader for the Consolata Institute of Philosophy said that the encounter with Pope Francis during the dialogue inspired growth in the cohort through a project of writing.

“The cohort has grown since our encounter with Pope Francis and we have embarked on writing as a major project in response to the political situation in the country both in favor of what has been done and what is being done in the country,” Seminarian Omondi said.

Through the writing project, the Kenyan-born Seminarian said that guided by research, much is analyzed in the country’s politics sometimes with a focus on the challenges which are shared among other young people with a view of obtaining their opinions.

He said that the opinions obtained from the youth in the entire country would be used to reposition the young people not only in the country’s politics but also in their economic lives.

“When it comes to writing, it is not just about politics, but also on major issues that are affecting the youth,” said the leader of the cohort that is majorly made up of Seminarians.

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The Seminarian with the Augustinians told African Catholic Voices that the cohort is benefiting so much from the writings of the Seminarians after their visit to Catholic Parishes on weekends.

According to Ms. Nabwire, the youth have "also been engaging ourselves into reaching out to others, the youth in our Parishes and communities.”

The member of the Consolata Institute of Philosophy said there has also been a lot of sensitization with a view of recruiting more people.

Ms. Nabwire told the African Catholic Voices that just the same way Pope Francis emphasized consulting the elders, they are set to reach out to senior citizens for a way forward once they succeed in creating more cohorts within the institute and specific Parishes.

On his part, Basil Ojwang, a student from the cohort of Kenya’s Uzima university said they are engaging in some activities promoted by the Holy Father including tree planting in the care for the environment as highlighted in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter  Laudato Si’.


In December last year, Basil said that the cohort collaborated with Rotaract Club, one of the clubs in the university in “a tree planting session in line with the ongoing conversation around climate change and environmental conservation.”

“We are also going on with our research that aims at giving a report on what we took home from the conversation we had with the Pope,” he told the African Catholic Voices during the February 13 interview. 

Since the encounter with the Holy Father, Basil said, “We have been able to mobilize more members to join BBI Africa, team Kenya, and establish some sort of association that will enable us to move forward objectively.”

Asked about what touched him following the November 1 dialogue, the Kenyan youth said that Pope Francis’ call for consulting elders in the quest to become leaders should not be taken for granted.

“We as the youth have everything to lose if we consider our elders as enemies in our quest to become leaders,” he said.

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The November 1 event brought together students from 34 universities that were drawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast.

The students had various talking points on faith and spirituality, the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which emphasizes that “I am because we are”, as well as the aspect of human solidarity.

The interaction between the Holy Father and the African youth was pegged on the three steps of the Synod on Synodality that Pope Francis extended to 2024: listening, discernment, and action, with rootedness in the Holy Spirit.

In the February 13 interview that was hosted by Sr. Titilayo Aduloju, a student from the Catholic University Eastern Africa (CUEA) said that since the encounter, they have been conducting research on how to reach out to other youth to join in the project of Synodality.

Brian Otieno said that they are also conducting projects on climate change hoping to mobilize the young people to benefit from the conversation with Pope Francis during the November 1 event.

Otieno said that the encounter with Pope Francis challenged them at CUEA to start reaching out to the youth who are not considered by the Church and society.

“We realized that some youth are being neglected due to their behaviors in the society, we try to educate them on how they can live with people in the society,” he told the African Catholic Voices February 13.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.