President Uhuru Kenyatta today urged Kenyans to learn from the life of Sister Irene Stefani whose beatification in Nyeri was attended by thousands of Catholic pilgrims from all over the world.
The President, Deputy President William Ruto and former President Mwai Kibaki joined the faithful who witnessed the historic beatification of Sister Irene, who was fondly known as Sister Nyaatha, at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.
Speaking during the ceremony, the first of its kind on the African continent, the President challenged Kenyans to emulate Sister Stefani’s compassion to serve mankind thousands of kilometers from her country of origin.
The President observed that although Sister Irene, who is now known as Blessed Irene, had a better life back in Italy, she decided to forgo the comfort of her family to follow God’s calling to come and serve in Africa, where she knew nobody and had no relatives.
“She had no relative here in Nyeri but came to give the word and use her talent to serve all who were around here,” said the President.
He said her life is proof that the greatest contributors to the wellbeing of society are the good actions of individual members.
“It is not big governments and everything we do, it is the single individual’s life and work that can begin the process of changing communities, bringing peace and healing,” said the President.
The President thanked missionaries for their work and assured that the Government will continue partnering with the Church in providing services to communities to improve livelihoods.
The Head of State also called on Kenyans to be tolerant with each other’s faith since religious freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution.
“There is no faith that is superior to the other and no faith that can force others in one way or the other to believe in what people themselves have not accepted,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the Government is committed to protecting and preserving the rights of all Kenyans to exercise and practise their faith without fear.
“We shall not agree to be intimidated by few individuals who dim it fit to dictate to others that which they should not do.”
The Deputy President said Kenyans should emulate Sister Irene’s good acts of compassion and love which have brought the whole world together.
“As a people we are reminded that the same way Sister Stefani left her village in Europe to come and serve people, that act has made people from all over the world to be united because of her humility and hard work,” said the DP.
The former President said Sister Irene’s acts of compassion demonstrate that deeds that transform the world may be rare but can be purposed and prioritized.
He said the late famous Catholic nun was a person of exemplary compassion, sacrifice, courage, diligence and faith that showed selfless commitment.
“From Sister Nyaatha’s beliefs and values, we learn that courageous good deeds are gears that change the world by transforming the fortunes of human kind,” said former President.
Sister Irene arrived in Kenya in 1915 under the Consolata Missionaries and died in 1930 of bubonic disease while treating a patient identified as Ngari in Gikondi area of Mukurweini, Nyeri.
The beatification decree was read by Pope Francis’s representative, Tanzanian Archbishop Polycarp Cardinal Pengo while John Cardinal Njue was the main celebrant.
Other speakers included Governor Nderitu Gachagua and Senator Mutahi Kagwe of Nyeri County.