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KENYA-GUATEMALAN Feb-16-2011 (270 words) With photo. xxxi

Mission profile: Guatemalan priest in Kenya says his faith has grown


Father Pedro Gonzalez, a Guatemalan priest with the Missionary Fraternity of Mary, is pictured at the Resurrection Garden retreat center in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 15. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

By Barb Fraze
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Father Pedro Gonzalez was a seminarian with the Missionary Fraternity of Mary in Guatemala when members of a Spanish order began visiting his congregation.

After several visits, the Spaniards, members of the Missionaries of St. Paul, invited his order to send men to Kenya. So in 2000, just before his ordination, Father Gonzalez and two other fraternity members traveled to the East African nation.

Today, the Missionary Fraternity of Mary has eight members and four parishes in two Kenyan dioceses. Of the original three who came, one has left Kenya, one is leaving -- but Father Gonzalez plans to stay.

"It's a personal call," he told Catholic News Service Feb. 15. "I have much to do in Kenya in terms of evangelization."

Father Gonzalez said he and his faith have grown in the 11 years since he has been here.

"I don't just celebrate Masses," said the priest, who currently works in the Diocese of Garissa, in northeastern Kenya.

"I'm a catechist. I'm a teacher in the school. I'm a farmer in the garden. I'm a friend to the Muslims."

The Spanish-speaking priest has learned English, Swahili and two other Kenyan languages. Besides working as a parish priest, he has responsibilities with his order and is the diocesan coordinator for the Kenyan branch of the pontifical missionary societies.

"Mission, for me, is a call to share the work of Jesus -- that human beings are all the same," he said. "We do not work for color, race, tribe, language or even faith.

"Jesus, he came to save human beings," he said. "We are helping human beings here."

END


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