How did you discover Opus Dei?
I got to know about Opus Dei after I decided to do a training course in catering work at what is now known as Kibondeni College. A Dutch lady called Ria, who was a teacher at Mukumu Girls Secondary School, where I was a student suggested that I apply and helped me with my application. That was in 1966 October. While I was doing my Course, I lived with members of Opus Dei. Along the way, I came to realise that maybe God might be calling me to serve him in Opus Dei and I joined in May, 1967.
What does the vocation of an Assistant Numerary entail?
Our professional work involves taking care of the catering departments of the Centres of the Work to make sure that everything is well done; the food is well cooked, the housekeeping and laundry is well done. You could say that an Assistant Numerary fills the role of the mother. A house without a mother will lack unity and family life. But our work makes the Centres of Opus Dei, not just Centres, but homes for all those who live there, including ourselves.
Did you ever meet St. Josemaria?
Yes. I went to Rome in 1972 to work in the catering departments there and came back to Kenya in 1974. I was accompanied by two other Kenyans. When we met the Founder of Opus Dei for the first time, on 1st October 1972, we introduced ourselves. One of the other Kenyans introduced herself and added, “Father, I am a Kikuyu”, the second Kenyan also said the same thing and I in turn introduced myself and added, “Father, I am a Luhya.” Then St. Josemaria looked at us and said “My children we all belong to the race of the children of God.” I realized that he wasn’t interested in what tribe we were, but that we were all his children.
Did the encounter with St. Josemaria change your life in any way?
Yes. Before that encounter, I felt very strongly about people’s tribes. But after the meeting I thought it over and realised that St. Josemaria was right: we are all children of God.
In the Centre of Opus Dei where I was staying, I met many people from all over the world and the Founder’s words helped me to work and get along with people of different nationalities and tribes.
From him I learned about the unity of the Work. Because, despite coming from such diverse nationalities, we did everything together. Unity as a family was very important for St. Josemaria. One could also see that the Father really loved his daughters from Africa and always looked out for us in the get-together.
During the recent crisis of ethnicity, it did not occur to me in my conversations with people to think of their ethnic origins and I have no problems associating with anyone because of their origin.
Do you think the others learned anything from you?
The Kenyans taught the others how to make African dishes like chapati, Ugali (almost like Italian Polenta) and curry dishes. We also taught them African traditional dances and Christmas carols in Kiswahili like ‘Lala kitoto cha mbingu’ which means ‘Sleep Heavenly Child’ and ‘Kazaliwa Mtoto Mungu’ - ‘God’s Child was born’.
Any final words?
I am very grateful to God for my vocation to Opus Dei and having met St. Josemaria personally. It’s not common to meet someone who is canonized when you are still alive.