Fr. Arata Sato -Kenya Province-



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Fr.Arata Sato
Fr.Arata Sato
It has been close to four years now since I was appointed to the Kenya-Tanzania Province right after my ordination.
When I first arrived here I did not know the Swahili language. I did not know what the people were laughing about or what their conversation was all about. All I could do was smile and nod. However, at present I find that I no longer have the same level of anxiety that I had during those early days, and I feel that I can already somehow communicate with the people. Thinking about these past 4 years has made me realize what it is to be a Divine Word Missionary.

I live in the Soweto Parish in Nairobi. The people who live here have come from all over Kenya in search of work and dream of living in the big city. However, work here is hard to come by and most of them are hired only for the day or week.

The people I usually meet in church are cheerful, generous, and seem to be carefree and easygoing. But the reality is they are up at 4 or 5 in the morning in search of work, and those who are hired usually work long hours and only come home late at night. Theirs is not an easy life.

sign of peace
sign of peace
There is a yearly tradition in Soweto that I like very much. It is the celebration of the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the patron saints of the parish. The people bring something to cook which they place in a large pot and they share whatever is cooked during the celebrations.

And they are not really concerned about who brought what or how much a person brought to the feast. Rather, they focus their attention, for example, on the smiling faces of the children who have just received the sacrament of confirmation; or they talk about how well the children practiced their songs and how gracefully they danced.

When I see them celebrating together, I realize that it is their faith in God that allows them to accept the troubles and difficulties of life and still possess a grateful heart.

As I live my life as a religious and missionary amongst them and deal with things that are unfamiliar to me or experience things I have never experienced before, or accept realities that I had never even imagined existed, I realize that it is my faith in God that will allow me to survive whatever difficulties might come my way. The foundation for my faith in God as a religious and a missionary started during my time of formation in the seminary and is continuing even now as I do my ministry here in Soweto.

little dancers
little dancers
I am grateful for the support and help I got not only from my formators but also to the people who have helped me in one for or the other to be what I am today. And I pray for them as they continue to train and to help the future missionaries that will come after me.


October 2007
Fr. Arata Sato, SVD