The Sisters of St. Joseph Cottolengo are part of the communities, which St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo founded.
Credit: Meru Diocese
The Saint whose Feast Day is April 30 founded the Little House of Divine Providence that includes members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and the Laity, with the mission of taking care of many poor, sick and needy people who were welcomed in. Thus, he also founded a Congregation of Brothers, and a Community of Priests.
In the March 11 statement, the Father General of the Little House, Fr. Carmine Arice, is quoted as saying in reference to the beatification of the Cottolengo Sister, “It is an extraordinary grace that Divine Providence grants to the whole Cottolengo Family present in Africa and in the world as a renewed call to the path of holiness.”
The miracle attributed to Venerable Servant of God Maria Carola Cecchin reportedly happened at Gatung’a in Tharaka-Nithi County covered by Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Meru, where “a woman being attended by nurse Sisters gave birth to a boy with no heartbeat,” The Standard in Kenya reported June 15.
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The Kenyan newspaper report further indicates that “the child was born on April 14, 2013, in a Land Rover on the way from Gatunga village to Matiri in Meru.”
Credit: Meru Diocese
“Thirty minutes later, and after the heartfelt prayer of one Sister Katherine addressed to Sister Carola, the newborn named Msafiri Hilary Kiama began to breathe and now, after nine years, continues to live in peace,” The Standard reported.
In the July 18 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Oreste highlighted the level of preparedness of the Catholic Diocese of Meru ahead of the November 5 event.
“The venue for the Beatification celebration has been agreed upon: The function will be held in Kinoru Stadium, Meru County,” the beatification publicity committee Chairman said.
He added, “The Bishop has invited all the priests and religious, parish leaders and Chief catechist from every Parish for this purpose on 1st August, 2022. They will congregate at St. Michael Retreat center, of the Catholic Diocese of Meru for Mass and Sensitization about Beatification.”
There will be reflections about the life of Venerable Servant of God Maria Carola Cecchin and her “journey to Sainthood in general”, Fr. Oreste said about the events of August 1.
“It will be a moment also to pass information to the congregants who in return will inform the Christians back in the parishes,” the member of the Clergy of Meru Diocese further said, adding that on that day, the Local Ordinary of the Kenyan Diocese, Bishop Salesius Mugambi, “will update the congregants on the ongoing preparations through the committee established for the preparation.”
Committees involved in the preparations for the beatification are working toward the day, Fr. Oreste said, adding that Bishop Mugambi has urged the various committees “to increase the tempo of preparations because of the limited time to the celebration.”
He said he expects a “huge attendance” during the November 5 event considering that it is the “first of its kind in the Catholic Diocese of Meru, Meru county.”
The scheduled November 5 beatification of Venerable Servant of God Maria Carola Cecchin as a Blessed is to be the second beatification on the Kenyan soil, after that of Sr. Irene Stefani (Nyaatha) in May 2015.
Born Aurelia Mercede Stafani in August 1891, the Italian-born member of the Consolata Missionary Sisters was commissioned in Kenya after taking her first vows in January 1914, arriving in the East African nation in January 1915.
She served in the military hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania during the First World War (1915-1918) where a medical colonel nicknamed her “angel of charity”.
A couple of years later, and for a decade, Sr. Irene is said to have been giving herself unsparingly in the Catholic Mission of Gikondi in the current Archdiocese of Nyeri. There, “the people were calling her with the nickname ‘Nyaatha’ meaning ‘Merciful Mother,’” the Consolata Missionary Sisters have reported.
She died in Kenya in October 1930 after contracting a disease from a patient she was caring for. She was 39.
Credit: Meru Diocese
Sr. Nyaatha was beatified on 23 May 2015 in Nyeri by the delegate of Pope Francis, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, then Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
The miracle that opened the way for Sr. Nyaatha’s beatification happened in the Southern African nation of Mozambique where, in Nipepe Parish, Lichinga Diocese, 270 people hiding from the 1989 civil war invoked her name to get drinking water, which miraculously flowed and multiplied in the baptismal font.
Her sainthood journey has so far evolved through three successive Papal reigns. Pope St. John Paul II formally opened her sainthood cause by declaring her “Servant of God”.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared her to have exhibited a life of heroic virtues and declared her “Venerable”.
Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing the Mozambique miracle thereby declaring Sr. Irene Stefani “Blessed.”
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.