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Founder’s Week 2020: Don’t Just Survive, Thrive

A relic of St. Josemaría. During the prayers at the Holy Family Shrine, a blessing for those present and for the entire Strathmore community was done with the relic.

The Strathmore community, through various activities, had a week to take stock of the events of the last few months in order to gauge whether they were on track to not just surviving, but thriving.

Spanish Civil War

The pandemic has brought on challenging circumstances for many – financially, socially and psychologically – making it a difficult period that has tested our courage and endurance. A period of our founder, St. Josemaria’s life, mirrors more closely the effects we have felt due to the pandemic. During the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), he endured the constant threat of danger and tense uncertainty. It was a dark period, when Christians, especially priests and members of religious congregations, were at constant risk of losing their lives. Thousands of them were executed. Our Founder, already a priest, was forced to hide and dodge militia members searching for him.

In 1937, from April to August, he and five of his companions took refuge, together with more than a hundred other people, within the Honduran Consulate in Madrid. They lived in confinement, all six of them sharing a tiny room previously used to store coal. They slept on thin mattresses spread out at night on the floor. Since only one bathroom was available for all the refugees, they had to wait in line to use it. The two meals provided each day, at midday and in the evening, barely reached subsistence level due to food shortages then.

Borrowing wisdom and encouragement from his experiences, faculty and administrative staff had a session on “Flourishing in Adversity” that was facilitated by the Most Reverend Anthony Muheria, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri.

Adversity causes some to break; it causes others to break records. ~William Arthur Ward

Archbishop Muheria stated that adversity is a springboard that catapults us to heights we would not have dared reach on our own. He also added that we should look at vulnerability as something human, and one that connects us with the transcendent.

When asked whether we are able to thrive in this pandemic that has brought us to our knees and has left many in despair, he responded, “Yes, but we need agents of hope.” Other questions posed were: should adversity be attributed to the evil one? And, is it worth fighting for good in an environment flooded by corruption?

He later gave a summary of initiatives in his diocese that have been assisting those in need including the initiation of the Good Shepherd call centre and the ‘Feed a family’ campaign. He also mentioned that one discovery made during this period is the power of the media that has enabled his diocese reach the masses with messages of hope.

Due to the current circumstances that have necessitated the creation of an online ecosystem, the sessions were held via zoom with the exception of the housekeeper’s tea which was held at the Kilimanjaro café.

In their session, Caroline Maingi, a lecturer at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), led the discussion into practical ways to live out the theme, “Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”.

Earlier in the week, Holy Mass was celebrated in remembrance of the anniversary of our Founder St. Josemaría’s canonization that took place in Rome on October 6, 2002. In place of the annual Eucharistic procession held during this week, prayers for students, staff, parents, partners and benefactors, in this year that has been particularly difficult for many, were held at the Holy Family Shrine.

Blog competition winners

With regards to student activities, six students won this year’s Founder’s Week blog completion. They were required to submit a 350 – 1000 words article on their experience of the pandemic based on this year’s theme. The top positions went to: Ashley Namachanja, Michelle Chekwoti , Shanice Akoth, Magdalene Muhiu, Trevour Maloba, and Roselyne Mwanza. The students were also treated to a game night that included a few rounds of Kahoot! and charades.


This article was written by Wambui Gachari.


Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu