BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KENYA NATIONAL MARIAN SHRINE – SUBUKIA
- In 1980, during the preparation for the first pastoral visit of pope John Paul II to Kenya, the Episcopal Conference discussed the possibility of having a National Shrine to Mary the Mother of God in the country. This idea was suggested to the pope who welcomed it and blessed its foundation stone on 7th May 1980.
- In November 1984, the KEC meeting held at St. Thomas Aquinas seminary, the conference requested Bishop Ndingi to pursue the matter of the suggested Shrine. The reason being that, Nakuru is the centre of the country and accessible from all parts. In the same meeting, the name VILLAGE OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD was proposed by Cardinal Otunga and was accepted by the conference as the official name.
- In 1985, Fr. John Jones of St. Patrick Missionary Society decided to have a small shrine of Our Lady in the Parish of Subukia in an outstation of the Parish called Munanda – seven kilometers from the Parish Centre on the way to Nakuru.
- In 1987, the Munanda shrine – which was the first site of the Kenya National Marian Shrine – Subukia – was opened by Bishop Kairu (now Arch Bishop of the Arch Diocese of Nyeri). Both for the opening and closing ceremonies led to the annual celebration which now take place on January 1st each year
- In May 1989 an offer of 50 acres was made, free of charge and an option to buy 200 acres was made by Major Peter Ikou Muteithia.
- On 27th October, 1989, at the Bishop’s Consultor’s meeting, the decision was made to purchase the land that was offered.
- On 28th August 1990, at the Bishop’s consultor’s meeting, Fr. John Jones was appointed the first director of the Shrine.
- On 21st March 1991, the Title Deed for the newly purchased land for the shrine was issued.
- On 9th May 1991 the first mass was offered by Fr. John Jones on the land now the property of the KEC on Ascension Day.
- On 7th December 1991 (Saturday), the late Mr. Henry Mutuku (the headman of the workers), came upon a wet patch of ground which has a small spring of clean water in it. On opening a small gully down the slope, water started flowing out, and has continued to flow without fail ever since.
- On 1st Jan 1992, the water from the spring was blessed by Bishop Korir of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret
- On 19th April 1998, the statue which Fr. John Jones had brought from Ireland was smashed by a group of Akorino sect who also burnt the shelter for the statue and the shelter over the altar area.
- On 12th August 1998 Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci informed Pope John Paul II about the establishment in Subukia of a National Shrine dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and the proposed programme of Marian pilgrimages with a statue of Mary mother of God which was to take place throughout the Jubilee Year. And as a result the following letter was written:
It is a particular joy
to learn of the establishment
of a National Shrine
dedicated to Mary,
the Mother of God,
and to learn of the programme
of Marian pilgrimages
which will take place
throughout the Jubilee year.
20th May 1999
- On 9th December 2000, the new statue which was curved out of an ancient Jacaranda tree from the Papal Nuncio’s compound in Nairobi by a Ugandan artist called Leonard Katete was blessed in presence of 15 Bishops.
- On 28th August 2001, Bishop Philip Anyolo, the then Bishop Chairman of the Lay Apostolate of the KEC, requested Fr. Francis Ruiru of Eldoret to succeed Fr. John Jones as the director of the Shrine.
- On 5th October 2006, Fr. Francis handed over the directorate of the shrine to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual when Fr. Dariusz Dembkowski became the third director.
- In November 2008, Fr. Dariusz Dembkowski handed over the directorate to Fr. Dennis Gwaro Ntabo who became the fourth director of the Shrine.
- 4th September 2010 was a ceremony of “Breaking the ground”. After 30 years of the Shrine the construction of the Church began. The Eucharist and the blessing was presided by Fr. Tadeusz Brzozowski the Provincial Custos of the Conventual franciscan Friars. The entire Shrine Church was designed and supervised by Fr Kazimierz Szulc the custodial econom of the Conventual Franciscan Friars.