by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When were you appointed pastor of St. Augustine's Catholic Parish in Nigeria and how many members are in your parish?
Father Robert: 2014. We have 2 associate priests According to the Baptismal Register, we have about 9,000 members.
Gordon: How many staff do you have and what are their responsibilities?
Father Robert: We have 13 staff In our rectory we have 1 Cook/Cleaner,,1 Farmer, 1 Night Guard, 1 Office Secretary, 1 Youth Coordinator, 1 Catholic Women Association Coordinator, and 1 Small Water Station Attendant. In our dispensary we have 2 Nurses. 1 Laboratory Technician ,1 Maternity Wing Kitchen Cook (part-time)1 1 Laboratory Technician, 1 Cashier, and 1 Driver (Dispensary small truck/pickup for referral cases).
Gordon: Many of our readers may not be aware of the extreme poverty in Kenya and the challenges that are faced daily by you and all of the people of Kenya. Disease is a major challenge, especially HIV/AIDS and malaria. Could you share with our readers how disease has impacted your parishioners?
Father Robert: Many children are orphaned.. If the breadwinner passes away - more poverty.. Many people are stigmatized because of having HIV/AIDS. It is difficult to make ends meet to pay for medical treatment.
Gordon: What are some of the educational challenges in Kenya and work opportunities in your community?
Father Robert: In some areas poverty and lack of water and food to sustain children in school. The number of graduates from colleges and universities is higher than that of job opportunities/positions in the government, private, and NGOs sectors. More seminars are needed to create awareness of self-employment other than looking for “white collar jobs”. More trade schools/institutes for skills need to be introduced.
Gordon: Are there any Catholic organizations to which our readers can send donations that may be of help to you in addressing some of your parish challenges?
Father Robert: Yes, in our diocesan offices we have the Caritas Department that deals with such matters e.g. Mission Appeals money.
Gordon: Thank you for an exceptional interview. We are all blessed to have you leadership in addressing the needs of our neighbors in your parish. You have helped us learn how to love of neighbors as ourselves.