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Rise Above Traditional Culture, Embrace Christian Culture, Pastoral Agents in Kenya Told

Members of the Clergy and Religious involved in pastoral animation in Kenya have been encouraged to embrace the Christian culture, rising above their respective traditional cultures that could impede active participation in the mission of Jesus Christ.

“We must rise above the culture of our communities because we must embrace the Christian culture, the culture of Christ, the culture of the Gospel,” Sr. Agnes Lucy Lando said Saturday, September 26, the last day of the three-day virtual workshop that brought together mainly members of the Clergy and Religious involved in pastoral animation in Kenya.

Sr. Lando explained, “In the gospel culture, we are all the same, equal in the eyes of God but in the community culture, my culture is superior to yours, and my culture says boys are better and my culture says women should be this or that. Culture makes women feel inferior.”

“Inferiority and superiority complex have a direct impact on mission,” the member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega in Kenya went on to say, adding, “Our mission is challenged by preconceived ideas or by cultural inclinations of the people we are serving or the people we are working with.”

As a way forward, Sr. Lando who is a Professor at the Nairobi-based Daystar University’s School of Communication recommended awareness, sensitization and prayer.

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“The best way forward is to be aware; awareness that I am a religious man or woman but first of all I am a cultural being from a certain background and I am being sent to men and women of a specific culture and background and so I need to see how to breach the gap,” she told participants in the virtual workshop.

The mission of Jesus Christ can also be hampered by language, age and attitude, Sr. Lando who was addressing the topic, “Gender Culture and Communication: Challenges and Opportunities” said.

“Language is the greatest form of communication. One of the ways to test whether a missionary is a missionary at heart is to find out if he or she learnt the local language,” the Kenyan-born who is at the helm of the Research and Postgraduate Studies at Daystar University said.

She added, “You must be able to identify with the culture and the people that you are serving. One of the ways to overcome the challenge of language and culture is to try to learn the positive elements of the culture and then learn the language of the people.”

To pastoral agents in Kenya who find it difficult to address their peers because of their age, Sr. Lando invited to remember that “all Sisters in your congregation have gone through the same training; and all Priests have the same formation. So that should be able to uplift me.”

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“And if I feel maybe my age, or the perception of others around me as young or I perceive others to be young, then remember we are the same in matters of formation except for the years of experience,” she continued.

Sr. Lando also encouraged the participants in the virtual workshop that brought together liaison committee members of the Commission for Clergy and Religious of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Directors in Kenya to adopt the notion of “emotional intelligence” in view of overcoming challenges that come from personal attitudes.

“Emotional intelligence is how we react to insults and abuses from the public,” Sr. Lando said and added, “How you respond will help you continue the mission or the people might run away from you. You should get acquainted with emotional intelligence. That is how I handle unpleasant situations.”

The 24-26 virtual workshop that was organized by the leadership of KCCB’s Commission for Clergy and Religious gathered dozens of pastoral agents from 25 Kenyan Dioceses under the theme “Communication for Collaboration.”

Reflecting on the theme of the workshop, Sr. Lando encouraged pastoral agents to “try as much as possible to use the means and methods of communication, especially modern technology at our disposal for evangelization.”

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“Let us be careful users and consumers of digital media and especially put a pause on the send button,” Sr. Lando said, cautioning the participants in the workshop against sharing information they receive without verification.

“In our sharing of information without verification, we participate in spreading fake news. This will affect our mission,” she said and added, “Sisters, Brothers, and Fathers, the fact that you have a password to your Facebook does not make your Facebook private because the things you post are seen by all your friends.”

She encouraged the participants to safeguard their Religious and Priestly identity.

“I should always remember that every single moment on Facebook and out of Facebook, on Twitter or out of Twitter or anywhere I remain a Sister, I remain a Priest. Otherwise, instead of spreading the good news, instead of building the Kingdom, we will be destroying the same Kingdom we are supposed to build,” Sr. Lando said.

She advocated for collaborative ministry saying, “It is collaboration that will help us achieve our mission.”

“In collaboration, we are able to communicate. When you do not collaborate, you are also unable to communicate and this has a direct impact on our mission,” Sr. Lando said September 28.