Radio Waumini: Voice for the Catholics in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya — In a country where many people outside of cities still do not own a television set, a 43-year-old priest and his staff of 35 are working to become the voice of Catholics.

Father Martin Wanyoike and his staff operate Radio Waumini, which was started by the Kenya Episcopal Conference but receives no funding from the bishops.

Father Martin Wanyoike, director of the Kenyan Catholic bishops' Radio Waumini, shows diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States around his studio in Nairobi. (CNS/Msgr. John E. Kozar)

Father Martin Wanyoike, director of the Kenyan Catholic bishops' Radio Waumini, shows diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States around his studio in Nairobi. (CNS/Msgr. John E. Kozar)

The station has a mix of music — not just religious — broadcast on an FM signal. It also broadcasts live online from 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. each day and even has a page on Facebook.

“Our target — we want very much to bring on board the young people,” Father Wanyoike recently told a group of mission directors from the United States. “You cannot reach the young people by playing only choir music.”

Father Wanyoike has his own morning show and recently extended it to include Nairobi’s early morning drive-time for commuters. He also believes that some of the station’s talk shows and programs on reconciliation contributed to the “healing process of our country” after the ethnic violence that followed the December 2007 elections.

In the African culture, where people are orally inclined, “the radio has become the storyteller,” said Father Wanyoike. Radio is “easy, it’s accessible, it’s cheap to own.”

Archbishop Alain Lebeaupain, the Vatican’s ambassador to Kenya, agrees that radio is the way to communicate with people. When he met with the mission directors, he encouraged them to support Radio Waumini and said he would like to see it as a national network of stations so the church can communicate with all Kenyans.

Editor’s Note: CNS International Editor Barb Fraze and Visual Media Manager Nancy Wiechec were in Kenya last month on a trip funded by the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

Villanova University choirs sing in St. Peter’s Basilica

VATICAN CITY — The Villanova University choirs, the “Singers” and “Voices,” ended their performance tour of Italy by singing at an evening Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The “Singers” and “Voices” are the largest men’s and women’s choral groups at the Catholic, Augustinian university in Villanova, Pa.

Members of Villanova University choirs in St. Peter's Basilica (CNS photo/John Lamb)

“The experience of singing in the basilicas of Italy cannot be conveyed in mere words.  Of course, the premier performance was at St. Peter’s.  It is very rewarding to see the faces and feel the uplift of the students when they hear their singing in venues that not only are beautiful and have such rich history but also are amazing acoustically,” said Villanova’s director of music activities, Brian Meneely

The theme of their performance tour was “Musicians Serving Musicians,” highlighting the core values of the Augustinians, which are represented on the seal of the University: Veritas, Unitas, Caritas (the pursuit of truth, unity, and love.)

“We learned so much from working with each other and with the help of our directors throughout the week, it was truly an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate to have even had the opportunity to sing in such a beautiful place such as St. Peter’s Basilica and I know it was something I will treasure for the rest of my life,” said sophomore Brittany Coyle.

The choirs also performed at the Duomo in Spoleto, the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and held a joint concert with an Italian choir in Lucca. An impromptu concert was also given at the Trevi Fountain to celebrate the students’ last evening in Rome.

The students are all undergraduates pursuing various degrees of study, and this was the group’s’ first performance at St. Peter’s Basilica.

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