Recently the Staff and Students of the Mill Hill Formation House in Nairobi gathered together with friends of Fr James Fanning mhm for a memorial Eucharistic celebration.
Extracts from the homily preached at this occasion:
We have gathered here to commemorate the life of Father James Fanning a.k.a. Jim Fanning, He was one of those who tried to put this word of God into practice. Though he died earlier than expected Jim set an example to many of us and that is why we are here today.
Jim lived among the poor, vulnerable, oppressed, those who are neglected or forgotten. He worked here in East Africa; he enjoyed begging money through the Friends of Mill Hill. Many may remember the tins of Friends of Mill Hill which were found almost everywhere here in Kenya and Uganda. He collected money with but one purpose in mind: helping the Mill Hill students in formation. He also did a lot of pastoral work, he did it with simplicity and humility, he visited many families and he prayed with them – some of them are present here now.
He also helped many young people to meet their goals in life. Some of them have become important people in the society, some are here present. Jim too spent a lot of time in prayer. Whenever Jim visited a formation house before meeting and sharing with students or other Mill Hillers who were around Jim would go and pray.
I had an experience of him. Two weeks after I arrived in Uganda Jim came to visit me and he took me to Kampala to collect to tins of the Friends of Mill Hill. It takes about two hours to travel from Mbikko Parish to Kampala. For Jim that journey time was a time of prayer. We prayed throughout, we prayed the rosary in English, Lingala and French.
After his work here in East Africa Jim felt the environment was becoming too comfortable for his mission and he requested to be sent to work in D.R.Congo. His request was granted and he was sent to work in the parish of Waka. Waka parish in one the parishes of the Diocese of Basankusu.
Jim learned languages to help him to communicate with the people he was working with. I am quite sure that Jim knew many languages here in East Africa such as Kiswahili, Japadola, Luganda, Luo and many others. In Congo he spoke Lingala, French and Lomongo very well. In Congo Jim met and worked with the late Bishop Matondo who had started the ‘Youth of Light’ initiation movement. The Youth of Light Christian initiation is one of the movements which spread through the whole country. He introduced the Youth of Light group here in Kenya and Uganda. Actually Jim was one the people who were being consulted in the process of the beatification of Bishop Matondo.
Placide Batondobi Elia mhm
CLOSING PSALM IN HONOR OF FR. JIM FANNING, MHM (RIP)
The air and the winds of Africa and across the land bless the Lord
To Him be glory and honor forever
All the Martyrs of Uganda bless the Lord,
The holy men and women of the church,
the heroes and all women of grace O bless the Lord
To Him be glory and honor forever
The holy mountains, the hills of Kenya and all the trees of the earth O bless the Lord
The birds of the sky, the seas and the oceans,
the families of Africa and across the world, O bless the Lord
To him be glory and honor forever.
St Joseph, St. Dominic and all the holy Missionaries of Africa bless the Lord
And all you people of East Africa
All people of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan, O bless the lord, O bless the Lord
To him be glory and honor for ever.
All people of Heaven,
the Holy Angels and the Saints bless the Lord
Glory be to the father….