THOSE who knew Fr. Giuseppe Bertaina, the Consolata missionary priest who was killed in his office on Friday 16th January 2009, were, to say the least, profoundly shocked.
I say this as a former student of Fr. Bertaina
at Consolata Seminary, Nairobi
Fr. Bertaina was also an astute administrator.
successfully saw the building of the new ultra-modern Institute of Philosophy
situated within Consolata Seminary
consequently moved in to be the new institute's administrator.
This is what he
did until his
sad demise at the hands of heartless thugs.
Before moving over to the new Institute of Philosophy
also doubled up as the rector of Consolata Seminary
, a different entity from the institute but within the same compund.
As the rector of the seminary, he
made sure that all seminarians strictly followed the laid out rules.
I have heard many people wonder how people survive in the seminary with such strict rules.
However, strict as the rules were, Fr. Bertaina
enforced them with a human face.
I have yet to meet any former seminarian who would claim to have been unfairly treated by Fr. Bertaina
would not even hesitate to expel any seminarian who went beyond what he
could tolerate and the rules would allow.
But believe me, under him, expulsions were quite few.
Even when one opted to leave voluntarily the seminary, he
would get good guidance from Fr. Bertaina
Some were also sponsored by him to pursue their studies elsewhere.
Wasn't this a wonderful priest?
was also never lacking in humour.
always had the right jokes for the right moment.
always made fun of his
slightly hoarse voice terming it as the most beautiful voice.
We all laughed.
also had a good grip of local and international affairs.
As the avid reader he
made sure to read any new book on any subject that was added into the seminary library.
I specifically remember him assisting me to get reference books when I was stuck researching on the Einstein notion of black holes.
in fact knew the exact location of the books in the library; he
took me there.
Outside the seminary, Fr. Bertaina
also ministered to prisoners especially at Lang'ata prison.
seemed to love this part of his
I believe many convicts became better citizens because of him.
This humble man of God is, to us present and former seminarians, religious priests and brothers, what Geoffrey Griffin was to all who went through Starehe Boys Centre
Many might not know, but I can authoratively reveal now that this country has many prominent people who passed through the hands of Fr. Bertaina; from bishops, priests, university lecturers, human rights activists, and teachers just to mention but a few.
In fact, a well-known journalist and lecturer, Kodi Berth
, is a product of Fr. Bertaina
The priest had a mission to bring positive change in our country.
mission has been cut short by his
advanced age, he
had the stamina to press on.