From the Desk of Fr. John Pfannenstiel, OFM Cap.
Marilee has seen the brutality of terrorism with her own eyes.
Marilee’s village is close to the border with Somalia, where fanatical Islamic militants are determined to impose their rule and religion on the people of Eastern Kenya.
Teens and young adults have been kidnapped from her village and taken to the lawless country of Somalia, never to be seen again. Repeatedly, the poor people of this rural region are forced to hand over the little food and money they have to terrorists. If they refuse, the raiders will destroy their homes and gardens.
Marilee’s mother and father want her to have a better life.
That is why they send their 9-year-old daughter more than 40 miles away to St. Veronica Primary School.
Marilee’s parents fear for her life and want her to be safe and receive a good Catholic education.
Two years ago Marilee joined more than 400 other students at St. Veronica’s. Like her, most of the children are from poor families who live in areas that terrorists often raid.
St. Veronica Primary School in Kithyoko, Kenya, is a refuge and a light of hope for these children and their families.
Yes, Marilee and most of her schoolmates live at St. Veronica’s. There they are safe from Islamic terrorists and receive a great education, thanks to the Capuchin missionaries who founded the school only five years ago.
But there are many more children who cannot attend St. Veronica’s because there isn’t any more space.
Two months ago, Capuchin friar Fr. Arnold asked if we could help build eight more classrooms and another dormitory so that more children can attend the school.
I told him that we will try.
I hope you can help Fr. Arnold so that more children can be safe, receive a wonderful education and grow in the Catholic faith at St. Veronica Primary School.
Six years ago the school was just a dream.
With the generous support of our Seraphic Mass Association family, classrooms, dormitories, a chapel, a kitchen and dining hall, offices and a friary were built. The school opened a little more than a year later and accepted its first students.
Now it is obvious that the dream was too small!
Many more families want to send their children to St. Veronica’s.
People in Eastern Kenya know that their lives and their Catholic faith are constantly under threat from Islamic terrorists. But rather than living in fear, they want to make sure that their Catholic faith and their children will not be defeated.
Yes, St. Veronica’s is more than a school. It is a powerful sign to Islamic terrorists that children, especially girls, will be educated - and that the Catholic faith will endure, and goodness will overcome evil.
Would you help the good people of Eastern Kenya give hope to their children?
Can we build more classrooms and a dormitory so that more children like Marilee can attend this beautiful school?
St. Veronica’s has nine grades that are equivalent to our kindergarten through 8th grade. All classes are in English, the official language of Kenya. Students receive three meals every day. In addition to prayers in the chapel, they also have religion class to begin each day of school.
Students are assigned daily chores, as well. The grounds are spotless, and the older students tend the gardens and chickens with the help of parents who volunteer to help the school.
Can I count on you to help build eight more classrooms and a dormitory?
The cost of expanding St. Veronica Primary School will be about $190,000.
I know this is a big project, but with your generous help, more children will be able to attend St. Veronica’s!
When we first helped build the school almost six years ago, I was impressed with the design and quality of work and materials. I know I can trust the Capuchin friars to make sure the work is done well and on time.
Construction must begin soon so Fr. Arnold can welcome more students next January when a new school year begins.
Catholic parents of Eastern Kenya need your help to keep their children safe from terrorists and give them a good Catholic education. They will be thankful forever!
Your love and support for our Capuchin missionaries is an inspiration. You are part of our wonderful Seraphic Mass Association family, and you are in my thoughts and prayers every day.
I prayerfully ask for your heartfelt and generous help. Please help Fr. Arnold welcome more children into St. Veronica Primary School. Your generosity will help build eight more classrooms and a dormitory to expand the enrollment of this beautiful school.
Fr. John Pfannenstiel, OFM Cap.