As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and Carmelites in Kenya have used ingenuity and faith to allow them to provide Mass and Holy Communion for thousands of worshippers whilst respecting Covid safety precautions.

Covid-19 arrived in Kenya in early March 2020 and slowly started to spread from the capital city, Nairobi, to the towns and villages. The country subsequently went into several severe lockdowns so that businesses, educational institutions and churches were closed.

The Carmelite Delegation in Kenya was not spared from the immense disruption. The Delegation is made up of six priests, three deacons, one brother with simple vows, three novices, and eight postulants. They are divided into two bustling, active communities which are located near to each other in the city of Nkoroi, in additional to some smaller, more rural churches under their care.

When the lockdowns were announced, all the students in formation were sent to their families. "We felt it prudent to have the minimum number of people around", remarked Fr. Boniface Kimondolo, O. Carm. He went on to explain, "It was not easy to live through such moments. . . We could only pray and do a few activities in the community’’.

A parish in Kenya is seen by the community as a charity centre and Covid brought many difficulties to many families. Fr. Boniface described the situation at the time - ''People were always at our door. The needs were great. Many people lost their jobs. . . People came to us asking for financial help and food. We could only share the little we had. From time to time, we received donations from some generous people. This greatly helped those who were most affected. . . Through it all, the Carmelites did their best.’’

As Covid restrictions in the country lifted slightly, the churches began to look for ways to enable people to attend mass and receive Holy Communion. Those in the church in Nkoroi sought a way to provide for the large community of around three thousand people who would normally attend services with them each Sunday. It was through this unusual lockdown situation that the idea of a Drive-in Mass was formed.

"We had to create space in the church hall, but we still could not accommodate all the faithful (due to social distancing regulations). We came up with the idea of a drive-in Mass. This could accommodate any of the parishioners who drive", explained Fr. Boniface.

The novel idea was a great success! Parishioners drove up in their cars to a prepared field where they parked and listened to Mass from inside their vehicles through the speakers. They only left their cars to receive Holy Communion. After receiving, they got back into their cars and drove out once Mass finished, leaving room for others to attend the next Mass. The idea worked so well that drive-in Masses still continue twice each week alongside more traditional celebrations. "Life seems to be slowly returning to normal. We hope all will be well soon!" concluded Fr. Boniface.

We celebrate the ingenuity and faith of all members of the Carmelite General Delegation in Kenya and thank them for their kindness and commitment to their community during these difficult times.

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