St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School

By Fr Methodios JM Kariuki (Director of Mission)

St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School was started in June 2007 by Fr. Methodios J.M Kariuki and his wife, Papadhia Everlyn Mwangi, who are Graduates from Makarios III Seminary and Orthodox Teachers College respectively. At this time, the community at Njabini did not know the meaning of “Orthodoxy” and more disturbing to them was “Orthodox Church”. Most of those who talked to us would ask “do you believe in God? And do you believe in Jesus? Is it a church and do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” These and many other peculiar questions were catalysts to the thought of a Mission Education Centre that would enable the Orthodox Faith to be accepted in this area. During discussions at my home, I made a phone call to H.E. Archbishop Makarios in Nairobi to ask for his blessings which he gave without hesitating.

rooms rented for st barnabas orthodox mission education centre

Rooms rented for St. Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School

We started by renting 4 rooms that served as a chapel and a catechetical classes.

We started St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School in a poverty scarred neighborhood and it impelled us to start learning about the challenges facing our neighbours especially their children.

We were in our 4th year in marriage with one son. By that time, I was employed in a Studio, earning 30 dollars a month. My wife was employed in an Academy, earning 50 dollars a month. I have come out openly about our earnings and financial standings to make you understand that the idea behind the establishment of St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School did not pop up as a way to spend but rather as a way to serve God and ask him to bless us in this noble course.

As the year 2009 ended, we had more than 60 children in the catechetical class.

During the great lent of the year 2010, I met the Late Fr. Evlogious Githingo (May the Lord rest his soul in eternal peace) at the Seminary. By the grace of God, he seemed interested in our Orphanage and School activities. He even made a date to come and celebrate the liturgy with us at the center. I do not know what transpired after that but he managed to come to the Mission Center in June 2010 and we altogether celebrated liturgy in the most exciting way. It was one of my life’s momentous events. He was very impressed by the number of catechumens and promised to request the Archbishop to come and see for himself what we were doing and the milestone we had carved out.

Fr Githingo With Children of St Barnabas Orthodox Mission- Education centre

It did not take long before that happened. I went to meet the Bishop at Gilgil 120km away, where he was attending a burial. On arriving, at the Mission Education Center, we met more than 150 people waiting for us. H.E Makarios of Kenya visited St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School for the first time on 3rd July 2010. And this was a historical visit that will never be forgotten in our lives and the generations to come.

st barnabas academy

A photo with Archbishop Makarios during his first visit at the Mission Centre

As we escorted the Bishop’s Entourage out of the Mission Center, my wife made her request; “Your Eminence, kindly be sending us a priest even if it is twice a year.” I was shocked to see the Archbishop turn towards me and say “Papadhia, you don’t need a priest to come here, you already have a priest.” My wife looked behind me to see whom the Bishop was referring to. “Where are you looking Papadhia?” He asked her, “This one here.” He pointed at me. After 19 days, on 22nd of July at the memorial of the Late Bishop George Gathuna, I was Ordained to the order of deaconate and to the priesthood in November the same year. And I was appointed to Head the Mission Education Centre as the Director.

Later in the year, we formalized learning at the Mission Education Centre. We then started regular classes for ECDE and primary children.

st barnabas academy

Bishop Makarios of Kenya at St. Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School

We requested friends to support the Mission by bringing their children to our Education Center and more children enrolled for catechetical classes. And we even baptized more than 60 catechumens.

catechumen being baptised at a river near St Barnabas Orthodox Mission Kenya

Catechumen being baptized in a river near St. Barnabas Orthodox Mission Orphanage and School

In partnership with the Orthodox Church of Kenya through the office of the Archbishop, we started a philanthropic wing which takes care of the vulnerable in the community.

We have an education and a feeding program for orphans and other vulnerable children that are jointly sponsored through kind donations from members of our community.

Our Orphanage and school has 175 pupils among whom 34 are in need of your kind and dire help. We have 15 0rphans who live at the orphanage.

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Community Library

st barnabas education center library

In the year 2003, we embarked on a journey to establish a community library.

First, we renovated an old structure to serve as the library hall.

rennovated library hall. Orthodox community library in the making

We improvised book-shelves and placed them all around the big hall.

We then asked Archbishop Makarios of Kenya to come and bless the Orthodox community library hall.

 

Archbishop makarios visits the renovated temporary library hall. orthodox mission kenya project 1

He was impressed by the work done and promised to donate some books to the library.

We talked to several partners and brought more books to the library.

Book cataloging at Orthodox Community Library. Orthodox Mission Kenya Project

The books were catalogued and placed on the shelves ready for use by children and other community members. We had passed a milestone and the church had indeed established a community library.

Books placed on shelves at Orthodox Community Library. Orthodox Mission Kenya Project

After realizing that there were no books with Orthodox theological teachings, we decided to talk to several friends.

Luckily, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Michael in the UK donated books to the library. We now had books with Orthodox teaching in our library.

And we received the books with thanks giving!

Orthodox Mission education centre, children who received the books happily on behalf of the orthodox community Library

These children are very eager to read but they face a lot of challenges. And your involvement and support is of great importance in driving change in the lives if these children. These children need clothes, a decent shelter and somebody to place a plate of food on their table, and we believe you are among the people who can help put an endearing smile in the faces of these children.

Feeding program at St. Barnabas Orthodox Mission Education Centre

Feeding program at St. Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School

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