Background History

In 1985 Bert Ebben, OP and Bernard Dupont, OP started a house in Kisumu, Western Kenya. At the Oakland Chapter in July 1989 Father Damian Byrne, OP asked the four American Provincials to take responsibility to establish the Friars in Kenya and to engage in the work of evangelization. On September 30, 1989, the Provincial Council unanimously accepted the responsibility for this project.

In 1991 seven American friars arrived in Kenya to carry forward this decision of the provincial council. Tom Heath, OP was appointed the first Vicar Provincial. During Tom’s term the property was purchased on Masai Lane (St. Dominic’s House), Langata, Nairobi.

Due to Tom’s resignation for reasons of health and after consultation with the friars, Bill Sinkele, OP was appointed by Tom Ertle, OP as Vicar Provincial in June 1991.

In December 1992 we purchased the property in Kisumu, Western part of Kenya. We began construction of the novitiate building in Kisumu in 1996. The same year Kieran Healy, OP, (Western Province USA), started our postulant program with five candidates. In August he became our first novice master. Later that year Ed Gorman, OP arrived and became the superior of the Kisumu community while teaching Chemistry at a local secondary school. In 1996, October 22, Bill Sinkele, OP was reappointed as Vicar Provincial after a visitation by Alan Morris, OP and Tim Myers, OP.

In January 1997 Maury Schepers, OP and Bert Ebben, OP, (Southern Province USA) started the new community in Arusha, Tanzania. In August 1997 we had Deogratias Ddungu, John Lorisio Lenkaak and Joseph Mukasa began their studies at the Spiritan Missionary Philosophy Seminary.

August 8th 1997, St, Dominic’s day, fr. Paul Nyawir made his solemn vows to the Order in Kisumu. Received by Bill Sinkele, OP who was the Vicar then. The following day, 9th August, which was on a Saturday, we had our first Ordination to the Order of Priesthood of Fr. Joseph Otieno, OP in Kisumu by Archbishop Zechaeus Okoth. In November 1999 fr. Paul Nyawir, OP was ordained to Diaconate in Nairobi by bishop Davies Colins, MHM of Ngong Diocese. In 2000 January 6th, Stephen Lumala, OP and Martin Ndegwa, OP made solemn vows at Mary Ward Center in Nairobi. They were received by Bill Sinkele, OP.

In March 1998, Peter Gerhard, OP volunteered from the Province to join our Vicariate of which he was assigned at our house in Nairobi. Due to health situation, he returned back to USA the same year in November. In September 1998, we had a series of visitators. First Al Caprio, OP who was then the Provincal Economic Adminstrator and Terry Keegan, OP who was by then the Regent of of Studies of the Province came, and followed by the Master of the Order, Timothy Radcliffe, OP and Emmanuel Ntakarutimana, OP who was then the socius for Africa. At Christmas time Ed Gaffney, OP and Kurt Pritzl, OP also visited our three communities.

In March 2000, Bede Shipps, OP joined the vicariate from the Province as the vicariate syndic. In May 2000 we had our Vicariate Assembly at Ressurrection Garden from 18th to 23rd. Fr. Norman Haddad, OP ( who was by then the Provincial of our Mother Province in USA) came for the Assembly together with John Vidmar, OP. This was the first Assembly where for the first time the friars in the Vicariate voted for for a Vicar. On 19th Dominic Izzo, OP was voted Vicar in succession of Bill Sinkele, OP. The following day, 20th of May, under our new Vicariate leadership, we witnessed Stephen Lumala, OP and Martin Ndegwa, OP ordiantion to the diaconate at the Ressurrection garden by Bishop David Kamau, who was then the Auxiliary bishop of Nairobi.

In September 2000 two more friars from our province joined to help in the growth of our vicariate: Emmanuel Bertrand, OP and Martin Martiny, OP, (arrived 28th August) Emmanuel Bertrand was assigned to our house in Nairobi as the local economic adminstrator, and Martin Martiny was assigned to our house in Kisumu as the director of postulancy.

In July 2001 we had our second priestly ordination of Stephen Lumala, OP in Butula by bishop Norman King’oo of Bungoma Diocese. The same year in August Martin Ndegwa, OP was also ordained to priesthood by bishop David Kamau at his parish in Muguga, Nairobi.

Dominicans from St. Joseph Province, US, were asked to staff St Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Nairobi, in 1963.

On the left is the late Fr. Thomas Heath, OP from the Eastern Province of St. Joseph and the late Fr. Lewis Shea, OP from the Central Province of St. Albert the Great. Fr. Tom died in 2005 and Fr. Lewis in 2011. They are both buried at St. Martin De Porres Priory in Kisumu .