The United States of America is an enormous place stretching over five time zones and encom-passing hundreds of millions of people.
There is a stereotype about the place that anything imaginable is available there if you have the money to pay for it. This is an exaggeration and simply not true in certain instances. For in-stance, it is not so easy to find ugali in the United States. You might be able to find it at certain specialty stores in very large ur-ban areas after spending all day looking, but you would not find it easily. You could also travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean (or vice versa if you had the mis-fortune of beginning in the West) without ever seeing a giraffe, a zebra, or a baboon in the wild. You would also search in vain to find anywhere in the United States of America where you could drive around endlessly on dirt roads in a sugar cane planta-tion network without being stopped by security guards or some law enforcement agency. All of these are things one cannot do in the United States of Ameri-can but which I was able to do during my visit to the East Afri-can Vicariate of the Order of Fri-ars Preachers.

“ …the grace and beauty of our common life of a shared faith a vocation far more powerful than the minor dif-ferences we each bring…”

On January 15, 2019 I departed New York for my first trip to the continent of Africa. I had never considered just how far away Nairobi is from New York. One leaves the western and northern hemispheres and enters the east-ern and southern hemispheres. The snow and brutal New York winter weather are exchanged for the remarkable pleasant summer days of Kenya. Yet despite all the differences in geography and cli-mate, the continuity of the Do-minican life made by visit to East Africa like visiting family, which it was. I was greeted with warm welcomes and introductions to all the brothers whose faces I had seen in photos. Within no times I was given a brief primer on all the variety of peoples that make up the countries of East Africa and how they interact with each other. It is logical to suppose that all of this diversity of peoples would make for a very different daily experience, but here the grace and beauty of our common life of a shared faith a vocation are far more powerful than the minor differences we each bring with us to the life of a preacher. The prayer in common, the communal meals, and the joyful kid-ding around by the brothers all made me feel like I was simply visiting another house of the Province of St. Joseph.

I will forever remember the long road trip to Kisumu and from Kisumu to Namogongo, Uganda. I had never anticipated visiting Uganda or going to to such a blessed shrine of so many saints who gave their lives for the faith. They are a true inspiration for all of us who live in an increasingly secularized and anti-Christian world. I enjoyed meeting the Dominican sisters and nuns who so wonderfully express their grati-tude for the friars and joy in par-ticipating in the life of the Order. Meeting the novices and postu-lants was a great reminder of the common noble elements of our vocation that continue to attract young men for the same reasons: to set the world on fire with the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Visiting the ministries of each of the houses in the Vicariate also gave me a much better understanding of how the Order of Preachers is alive and active in Kenya and to grasp some of the challenges that it faces.

While my stay there was only two weeks, I left confident that the next time my duties as provincial syndic brings me to East Africa I will be visiting old friends. Until then oreums pro invicem!