The church in Africa, in one hundred years of marvelous expansion, has given to God millions of Christians, thousands of its own zealous catechists; hundreds of The Church in Africa, in one hundred years of marvelous expression, has given to fervent local priests; several religious priests and Brothers and Sisters; its own native bishops, archbishops, cardinals. The Church has developed its missionary dimension, giving members to missionary institutes from abroad; there are also local missionary institutes, as the institute of the Apostles of Jesus and of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary. One dimension has to be developed more deeply, more extensively, with greater adaptation to local conditions: the Contemplative dimension.
It was thought that this contemplative dimension could be developed through an institute of Religious priests and Brothers, living a Contemplative Evangelizing life. The aim of such institute should be to cultivate contemplative prayer in its members and in common people, combining together contemplation and apostolic life.
Such an institute had to be originated in Africa, with Africans and for Africans, in its beginning, in order to develop more easily the contemplative dimensions of the Church in Africa, in accordance with the African mind and heart; “eagerly seeking a real adaptation to local condition” (AG. 18); “in a manner adapted to the genuinely religious tradition of the local people” (AG. 40).
The primigenial inspiration for such an institute came to our Rev. Father John Marengoni from the tabernacle on the 30th April 1984; it was a kind of bright enlightment to the mind; a strong impulse to the heart; an energy to the will; it was perceived like a torrent of living water, flowing from the Heart of Christ, present and praying in the Eucharist; it was accepted like an involvement into the attraction of the Heart of Christ to His Father, for the salvation of souls.
The essential content of the inspiration was this: the Africa, now, in its present situation with its present requirements, is in need to develop its mystic contemplative dimension! Through an institute of Contemplative active life, originated in Africa, with Africans for Africans in its beginning. The first inspiration little by little became a project, a plan. In January 1985 the first general outline of the plan was written down.
In March 1985 this scheme was forwarded to some Bishops. One of them answered immediately; he showed great appreciation and gave a warm encouragement.
In April 1985 the priest who got the first inspiration of the project, was providentially uprooted from his ordinary work among the “Apostles of Jesus” and the “Evangelizing Sisters of Mary”; he had to leave Africa and go to Rome for a time. In Rome he showed the outline of the project to some people, eminent in authority, dignity and sanctity; and the plan received warm approvals; the Father was encouraged to actualize the project. In May 1985 the outline of the first “Rule of life” was deepened and revised in the prayerful atmosphere of the monastery of the Trappists at the Frattocchie near Rome. The rules of some contemplative orders were deeply studied. On the feast of Sacred Heart, 14th June 1985; in Limone Sul Garda, in the native house of Bishop Daniel Comboni, the founder of the Combini Missionaries; the first pages of the constitutions of the new institute were written down; then little bi little, the first text of the constitutions was completed during June, July, August 1985, in the native house Bishop Comboni; mainly in the little chapel which had been a “stable”, over which Mons. Comboni had been born.
In May 1985, the father had been much encouraged to start the new institute by His Em. Card. Oddi, prefect of the congregation of the clergy. In September he got great encourament and wise directives from His. Em. Card. Martini, Archbishop of Milan; who stressed the importance of the church in Africa, (after the first evangelization, during the first century of its existence) to develop apostolic works and pastoral initiatives aiming at deepening Christian faith, especially through parish-missions.
In October the father went to Rome, to get the permission from the Combonian Superiors to dedicate himself to the establishment of the new institute. The newly elected Superior General, Very Fr. Francis Pierli Mccj took time to pray and think. On 10th October, the anniversary of the death of the Combonian’s founder, Bishop Daniel Comboni, the Superior General gave full permission and blessing and encouragement to the father, to dedicate himself entirely to the new institute. In November 1985 the father met His Grace Bishop Ndingi from Nakuru in Rome, at the motherhouse of the Brothers of De La Salle. Bishop Ndingi renewed his determined will to give juridical approval for the new institute.
In January 1986 the father returned to Africa and stayed in Ngong road, in the Provincial Procure of the Combonians. He tried to get the decree for starting the new institute from Bishop Ndingi. The Bishop had a scheme of the constitutions examined by experts. He prayed, he thought; at last on the 15th April 1986 he signed the decree, by which he erected the “Public association of the Contemplative Evangelizers of the Heart of Christ, according to Can. 312, 3.
The Father immediately begun to look for the land and the money for the buildings. Mama Ngina Kenyatta offered the gift of 15 acres in Rongai, few days after the feast of the Assumption 1986. In September the first buildings were started and on the 8th December we entered them, giving the keys to the Bl. Mother.