Celebrating Ignatian Day, Interview with Fr Francis
01 August 2022|Emanuel Loboka
1. Name Age Country of Origin
Francis Njuguna Ndung’u, age 47; From Kenya
2. Current Country where you are working
Currently working in South Sudan
3. When did you join the Jesuit?
4. What pushed you to do so?
To be at the service of all peoples in any part of the world where the need is great.
5. How is the life of a Jesuit? The best and the worst for you.
Life as a Jesuit for me is fulfilling. The best of it is when you realize you are part of a group to facilitate the people’s social and spiritual transformation. It gives me great consolation to see lives formed, informed, reformed, and transformed by the collaborative work and initiatives of the members of a group that I am a part of. I find joy in offering my little contribution. The worst part of it is when the change envisioned in the people we serve does not happen as expected or it takes longer than anticipated even after so much effort is put in. While this latter experience is not the norm, it does happen from time to time and that is a cause for desolation.
6. What difference are you doing to the world by being a Jesuit?
As a Jesuit, I can reach out to people I otherwise would not reach. By becoming a Jesuit I have found myself breaking the barrier that would limit me to serving only “my people” – those from where I come. This is because, for a Jesuit, the world in its entirety is the center stage for action!
7. Can you share a message with the community?
I reiterate my message in the words of the African artist Angelique Kidjo who has sung powerfully in one of her songs that “we are more than we are, we are ONE”. There is power in the union of hearts and minds. We may come from different walks of life, share varied life opinions, and profess differing faiths, but the bottom line is that we share a common origin and journey towards a shared destiny. This should motivate the desire to hold together, work together – each playing his/her particular role the best they can, for as many and diverse as we may be, we are but parts of ONE body of Christ.
8. Can tell us about your work as a Jesuit in South Sudan?
This is my second mission in South Sudan. The first mission was administrative and had challenges of lack of personnel and unstable programs. But there were solid achievements for which I am grateful to God. My current mission is pastoral. Both the context and the people are different. So far all is well. There are challenges of a new language, high levels of illiteracy, and periodic conflicts. But it is clear the community here is in urgent need of socio-cultural and spiritual renewal. The consolation is that there are all sorts of signs that indicate this is a place of great need and therefore we are at the right place at the right time. But the change is awfully slow. A lot of effort and resources are needed to form and inform the people before we can expect a desirable transformation. We do our best and leave the rest to God. In this mission, patience is the key virtue.
9. How important is the visit of the pope to South Sudan?
Our hope and expectation are that he will be the messenger of peace for the people of South Sudan. As such, his visit is as important to this country as the restoration of peace is.
Thank you, Father.