A Kenyan welcome for Pope Francis in Albania


Fr. Benson Salonik is a Kenyan priest of Ngong Diocese. At the moment, Fr. Benson is Rector of the Olchekut Supat minor seminary in Kenya’s Ngong Diocese. Vatican Radio’s Allan Christopher Wells who is in Tirana, Albania for the Apostolic visit with Pope Francis, found Fr. Benson eagerly waiting for the Holy Father’s visit today.

Fr. Benson has come a long way just to meet Pope Francis. “I couldn’t miss this occasion when I got the invitation to come and join others, here in Albania, who are meeting with Pope Francis this afternoon at the Bethany centre.” Said Fr. Benson. The Bethany centre is situated on the outskirts of the capital, Tirana.

Fr. Benson goes on to explain, “You see I have been friends and a close associate with the Bethany association for many years now.”  When the Bethany association wanted to open a house in Ngong Diocese, it was Fr. Benson who was at hand to welcome them and assist the association set-up base in his home Diocese. In Kenya, the Bethany centre has an orphanage, an outreach programme and a dispensary.

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Fr. Benson adds that, “The Bethany Centre transformed Ngong Diocese when the association came. You see at the time HIV/AIDS were at the peak, in Kenya and we had so many orphans”.

One of the last acts of Pope Francis’ historical visit to Albania, today, is a visit to Betania or “Bethany”, a home for orphaned children managed by the Bethany association. The home is located in the municipality of Bubq Fushë-Krujë, a few kilometres from Tirana. Here the Pope will meet with the children of the home and with various representatives of similar and other charitable organisations working in Albania.

“Bethany” is an association that was formed in in Verona, Italy in 1990, by Antoinette Vitale. Its focus is works of charity, inspired by prayer, that takes care of children in need. The Association also cares for adults with deals with various problem areas which range from addiction, immigration, prisoners and so on. Besides its headquarters in Albania, the association has ten houses in Italy and one in Kenya.

Paula Guarnita is the founder of the centre in Albania.

As for Fr. Benson, he cannot wait to welcome Pope Francis in Kenya. He is sure Pope Francis will eventually find his way to Kenya. He says, “Pope Saint John Paul II came to Kenya a record three times during his pontificate. We will eagerly wait to welcome Pope Francis to Kenya as well.”


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