Head of the Franciscan mission in Subukia, Kenya
People always ask me how I decided to become a priest and where I got His call. Well, it was on the football playground. Beautiful one, with a great football team that I found when entered the Fransican seminary high school in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was 14 and it was only two years before the Bosnian war started. Soon my school will have to migrate first to Croatia, and then to Italy where we were located in the southern town Bari.
Back to football - our team of young guys to become friars, most of us with long hair, as it was cool in those years, enrolled for Bari football championship and... well, we won. Nobody actually believed us that we were friars until we came to the final celebration to get our winning trophy. All 11 players from my team popped up dressed in Franciscan habits (long brown dresses with the white rope belt). In the meantime we managed to overload the church in Bari, which was almost forgotten by the community. Our Sunday Mass singing attracted almost entire town to the church. Thank you Lord!
But I still wasn't aware that I am actually going to become a priest, at that time we were having great fun and I actually didn't have time for real thinking.
I want to be a missionary...
We continued together to Faculty of Theology in Sarajevo and Zagreb, and by the end of the study something came to my mind - I felt the wish to become a missionary. So I took my final vow, became a priest when I was 27 and told my Provincial that I want to be a missionary. I already sow myself in Latin America in distant villages of Amazon. I was looking forward to great life adventure, getting to know new people and cultures to bring them light and to help them get to know great guy up there named Christ. After awhile Provincial came and said that he has two things to tell me - and as you know - one of them is usually good and another one… well… I got the permission to go to mission, but not to Latin America. I was invited to Africa instead. And it was take it or leave it.
You know the rest. I took it. With all my heart.
By that time I didn't know that my name Miro in local African tribal language means ”black man”. But the Big guy up there knew and sent me to Africa to bring the light in His name.
My first missionary destination was Uganda, I came young, green and well prepared, at least I thought that. But after three weeks without electricity, running water, eating only cooked bananas and grasshoppers, I was preparing my speech and writing a letter to the Provincial explaining him why I decided to quit the mission. In the same boat was my great friend Carmelo, Italian friar who came to Africa at the same time and we helped each other a lot. Today, 10 years later Carmelo is the Provincial of East Africa Franciscan Province and I am Definitor for this Province and the guardian of ”Our Lady of Angels” convent in remote village of Subukia in central Kenya.
Pastoral and other work in mission...
I am happy to say that we Franciscans made great changes here, still no roads and electricity but managed to build water supply for the people living here so they don't need to walk miles to bring water. Now they have few water points in the village from where they can easily take the water to their homes.
We have 16 churches in our parish, located in the distanced villages, most of them are small wooden churches, and we built few stone ones. Every Sunday my brother fr Peter and I have two Masses each so we manage to visit every church once a month and to celebrate the Mass with the locals.
I will tell you lot more about the Small Home Orphanage, St Francis School and Health Center that I run here in Subukia in in posts tom come on this blog.
I have special agreement with the Lord that he won't move me from here until I repair St Francis school which is now almost destroyed due to poor quality of building materials exposed to ruthless tropical rains during the rainy season. And until I make sure that it will function and be properly equipped for kids to get their valuable education.
After that I am ready to go wherever needed. Africa, Asia or maybe Latin America, Lord will decide.
fr Miro Babic ofm
The Franciscans - Lower Subukia; P.O. Box 111, 20109 Subukia