The Eastern Africa Province (AOR) on the feast day of Saint Francis Xavier held a vibrant ceremony to mark the change of leadership in the Province and also to incorporate one of their companions to the Society of Jesus by professing his final vows. The ceremony coincided with the Feast Day of Saint Francis Xavier one of the founders of the Society of Jesus, and whose history in the Society is equally embedded in the continent of Africa, as in 1542, the Saint, spend a few days in Malindi (current day, in Kenya). The ceremony was streamed live from the Mwangaza Jesuit Spiritual Centre, in Nairobi, Kenya, on the Loyola Center for Media and Communications YouTube channel. 

The ceremony began with a solemn celebration of liturgy to mark the departure of Fr. Joseph Afulo SJ, who has been Provincial of Eastern Africa Province for the last six years. He now will be joining the Jesuit community at the Southern Africa Province in Harare, Zimbabwe, as the new Vice-chancellor, of Arrupe Jesuit University (AJU). At the same time this was to welcome the new provincial of AOR Fr. Kizito Kiyimba SJ, who joins the Jesuit community in Kenya, after his tenure as Vice-chancellor at AJU. 

After the Mass, all present gathered for a moment of gratitude to the transitions and on the profession of perpetual vows by one of the companions. 

Fr. Endashaw Debrework SJ who on this day was being incorporated into the Society of Jesus reflected on his journey as a Jesuit, having served in many capacities, most recently as Regional Director for the Jesuit Refugee Service, saying “the journey is never easy but with the help of God, in times of frustration, desperation, desolation, I have never lost direction of God, I have always gone to the cross, and when I look at the cross, I always get consolation”.

Then followed Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ, the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) President, who while addressing the audience, expressed his word of gratitude on behalf of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar, saying “ … I’m grateful to Fr. Afulo for completing exactly six years today of service in the leadership of Eastern Africa Province in the service of the Society of Jesus. Six years is actually a short time in the life of a Jesuit, but, they are filled with activities, planning and especially they are six years of the accompaniment of the brothers, collaborators, the works, and the mission of the Society of Jesus. We are grateful as the Conference of Africa and Madagascar because as Major Superior, Fr. Afulo participated and contributed to the mission of the Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar, and specifically to the formation of Jesuits across the Conference and for the many contributions and the selfless service. Grateful also, because even before his term of office as Major Superior of Eastern Africa Province he made himself available for the next mission which will take him to Harare, Zimbabwe as new Vice-chancellor of Arrupe Jesuit University. This despite the fact that when Jesuits usually complete their term they are offered some sort of sabbatical or a break and of course Fr. Afulo had plans, but true to his own quality as a Jesuit, steeped in availability, he set aside those plans to make himself available for his next mission. I believe that’s an example, a model for us Jesuits and collaborators to learn from”.

The President while welcoming the new Provincial for Eastern Africa Province stated that he was grateful for Fr. Kizito Kiyimba, who just completed his term as Vice-chancellor (the founding Vice-chancellor of AJU), for his leadership and service to the Society. He expressed that Fr. Kizito had plans too, but again when the Society called, he set aside those plans and made himself available. He also offered words of encouragement saying, “… know that you have prayer, support and accompaniment of fellow brothers, and companions in the service of leadership”.

As he concluded he expressed gratitude to Fr. Endashaw, for the privilege of working and witnessing his final vows into the Society of Jesus.

The ceremony concluded with a reception at the Mwangaza grounds.

For the full ceremony see the video below