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MEET THE NEW RECTOR OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS MAJOR SEMINARY, NAIROBI

In May 2017, Rev. Fr. John Kiplimo Lelei was appointed Rector of St. Thomas Major Seminary, Nairobi. VIRGINIA KABUGU spoke to him about his life’s journey in priesthood and his new appointment.

Tell us about yourself

I am Rev. Fr. John Kiplimo Lelei from the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret. I come from a family of eight children. My parents were blessed with four children before my mother passed on. My father married a second wife to take care of us and they were also blessed with four children. I am the last child of my late mother.

Until recently, I have been working at St. Mathias Mulumba Seminary as Vice Rector and Dean of Students. I have been teaching since December 2003. From 2003 to 2008, I served as a visiting lecturer, meaning that I was working from the parish. In August 2008, the bishop asked me to join the team of formators as a resident lecturer. I was appointed Vice Rector and Dean of Students until May this year when I was asked to come to St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Nairobi, as the Acting Rector.

 

Why did you choose to join priesthood?

It is a very interesting story. When I was in primary school, there was a priest from Turbo Parish who used to visit us. As he was celebrating mass, questions would go through my mind. Can Africans also become priests? Can they also celebrate Mass? I had never seen an African priest. I was then in class six. But the idea soon disappeared.

 

Later in high school, the idea came back, this time motivated by a priest who used to celebrate Mass for us. I had joined the Young Christian Society (YCS) and was an active member and chairman of the movement. During Mass, the priest would talk about vocation to priesthood and I took interest. I remember there were two priests who came to our school. One of them was Rev. Fr. Patrick Scanlan (RIP), the then Vocations Director and we started talking. At Form Three I went home when schools closed and told my father that I wanted to be a priest and he asked; a priest? Like the white man who prays for pupils in our primary school?  Then he fell silent. The following year when I was in Form Four, the idea came again. The first time my father thought I did not know what I was saying but he sought information from one of his great friends. He was my primary school teacher and a good man. He advised that priesthood was good but my father was not satisfied, so he went and consulted my other relatives who encouraged him. After Form Four in 1979, I joined the seminary despite my parents not being Catholic.

 

Did you encounter hurdles while joining the seminary considering that your parents were not Catholics?

My parents did not know the whole idea of Catholic priesthood. In fact, they were not even Christians. It was something unheard of and hard for them to understand and only got advice from friends and relatives. When I talked to the Vocations Director, he was happy about my decision. By then our bishop was Archbishop Emeritus John Njenga and I did not have any objection from my local Church either. But from the family side, my parents, sisters and relatives could not understand.

 

Tell us about your new appointment

The appointment came as a surprise to me because having served for thirteen years; it was time for me to go back to the diocese. In fact I had talked to my bishop the late Bishop Cornelius Korir, to take me back to the diocese. As I was sharing with him, he told me to hold on. The next day I received a call from the Chairman of the Seminary Episcopal Commission (SEC), Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley, asking me to go and see him the following day. I called the Rector and told him of the call I had received from the SEC chairman. He asked me to oblige to the call of the Chairman. I left early in the morning and arrived at my destination by midday. The bishop was busy in office but he welcomed me as we already knew each other. After a short while, he said: “John, I have a request. I have no Rector at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. I’m requesting you to be one. For sometimes I kept quiet. “Think about it and get back to me” later.

We went for lunch and afterwards I drove back to St. Mathias Mulumba Seminary as I thought of the offer. At around 5 o’clock as I was approaching the seminary, I got a call from the bishop asking: “Your answer please?” I said yes, bishop.

 

What does this appointment mean to you?

Of course it is a new challenge because it is a new position and one does not know how to handle it. Many people are involved and they have a lot of expectations from you, so it is a challenging position which I think is also meant for growth. Nairobi is a different place and new environment. It has many privileges and challenges. The cost of living is high.

 

What challenges do you foresee?

At St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, we have a piece of land, but agriculture does not do well here like in other national seminaries. I am happy the seminary is already producing vegetables and rearing cows. When I settle down, we will explore other options to utilize the land that we have. We can also venture into chicken rearing. The main challenge remains procurement of foodstuff.

 

What is your vision for the seminary?

My vision is the vision of the Church – to train priests who are formed holistically, (intellectual, social and spiritual), so that they may become good ambassadors of the Gospel.

What should the seminarians expect from you?

I hope they will see in me a listener, a father, a teacher, a collaborator and someone who will encourage them in their vocation.

What advice would you give to young priests who are going out to start their mission?

The workload is great, they are stepping into a fertile ground, and they need to translate what they learn in their spiritual formation and social life in the real world they are going. What they learn may not necessarily be accepted at face value but they should adapt themselves to the situations they will find themselves in. They should remain faithful in their vocations as priests. Challenges and frustrations will always be there but they should remain faithful to Christ who has called them. They should support each other and create time for solidarity with other priests through prayer, spiritual nourishment and sharing.

 

What message do you have for the team you have left behind at Tindinyo?

We are mere workers in the vineyard of the Lord. I have to move on. Others will come; they will do double what I did and move on. We are mere workers in the vineyard of the Lord. When I was a seminarian here at St. Thomas Aquinas, there were many professors and they left. Some are still alive, others have died. All of us have some duty to contribute to the growth of the Church. Of course Tindinyo had become like my home because I was there for many years.

 

How should priests and the laity relate with each other?

We come from families and as priests, and we remain part of our families. When we become priests, we are not uprooted from our families; we are not uprooted from our Christians at home, we are still part and parcel of our communities. There is need to collaborate and work together to fulfill our mission and duties. The Christians do give us a lot of support, not just material but also moral support, encouragement and even counseling. It is good to know that Christians are talented differently and among them are talents of different kinds. We priests may not have been trained in some of the fields and it is good to seek their support. They may not be trained in theological formation, but they have a lot of information in terms of management of finances, farms, investment and administration and there is need for us to work together.

 

What are your closing remarks?

I thank the Christians for supporting the bishops in training of priests through payment of school fees. We realize there are Christians who may be more gifted than others and can even sponsor some seminarians through the dioceses. Gone are the days when Rome used to send money to train priests.  Our Rome is now here in Kenya. We are the resources so let us learn to share. I also thank the bishops for this appointment and for the good work they are doing in the country. I appeal to Christians to continue supporting the bishops and the Church in Kenya.

 

Highlights

1958 – Born at Soy in Uasin Gishu County. The parents migrated to Kipkaren

River in Ng’eng’ire. Grew up there and joined primary school

1968 – Joined secondary school

1979 – 1981 – Joined St. Augustine Seminary Mabanga (St. Mary’s Molo Seminary was not there yet) to study philosophy

1981 to 1985 – Joined St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary to study Theology.

Worked at various parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret then went for further studies in Vienna, Austria. Remained in Vienna for six years and studied for Masters and Doctorate in Theology – Liturgy.

2002 -2003 – Joined St. Mathias Mulumba Seminary, Tindinyo, to teach liturgy and physiology.

2008 – 2017 – Appointed Vice Rector at St. Mathias Mulumba Seminary

May 2017 – Appointed Rector, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Langata (Nairobi)

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Give witness to your vocations, calls Archbishop Muheria

Give witness to your vocations, calls Archbishop Muheria

By Daniel Kipng’etich

Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Archdiocese has called on the young people to shun hatred and tribalism asking them to respond to love of Christ.

Archbishop Muheria was the main celebrant during the National Catholic Youth Convention held on 25th, November, 2017, in Machakos Stadium.

The concelebrants were Bishops’ John Oballa of Ngong Diocese and David Kamau the Auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nairobi.

Archbishop Muheria who is also the Apostolic Administrator of Machakos urged the young people to be hopeful amidst many challenges they may be facing in life, asking them to remain focused and not to be swayed by wallowing pressures.

“We must say no to hate messages, don’t be swallowed, be the crocodile of hatred. My young people, today we are being told to open our hearts, harden not your hearts, your hands are meant to be for blessings and not for violence,” said the Archbishop.

The theme of the day was, “Faith on fire: God’s call, my response.”  It comes at a time when Pope Francis has dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome in October 2018 to address matters pertaining to the young people.

The convention had also been organized to celebrate Pope Francis’ visit to Kenya in November, 2015. During his visit Pope Francis met with the young people at Kasarani Stadium.

Under the theme ‘Young people, the faith and vocational discernment, the major aim of the synod is to journey with the young people in their process of discernment, shaping their future and  bringing them to the encounter with God and with human beings and actively participating in Church’s life and the society.

Archbishop Muheria called on the young people to give witness to their vocation, by living their baptismal promise. He said “The church says today we are not going ahead until we call the youth here,’ stamping the fact of the church evangelizing the young people.”  He lauded efforts of all those actively journeying with youths guided by the Diocesan Chaplains and Youth Coordinators,  calling on the young people to always carry with them the Catholic prayer weapon; the Rosary and to remain firm in faith despite the torrents and storms of life.

On his part, Bishop Kamau asked the youth to stand firm in faith and to treasure their youthfulness.

Speaking at the same time, Bishop Oballa, termed the young people as the cream and hope of the church and the society.

He said, “The church will accompany you, will listen to you, it will tolerate any traditional initiatives that you will suggest, so long as they are in harmony with the doctrines of the Church and the will of God. You are in the church’s radar.” Said Bishop John Oballa.

He asked the young people to bring suggestions on how they wish to be accompanied more, to be engaged and involved more in the work of evangelization and in fulfillment of their lives in view of their life to come.

Others who attended the convention were; the General Secretary of KCCB, Rev. Fr. Daniel Rono, the Deputy General Secretary of KCCB, Rev. Fr. Lucan Ong’esa Manwa, the National Executive Secretary of the Pastoral and Lay Apostolate Commission, Rev. Fr. Josiah Muthee Mugera under which the docket for the youth fall, youth chaplains from across the country among other clergy, religious people and the laity.

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Pope Francis appoints Bishop of Kitale as Apostolic Administrator of Eldoret Diocese

The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Maurice Crowley of Kitale as the Apostolic Administrator of Eldoret Diocese following the passing on of the Bishop of Eldoret, Rt. Rev. Cornelius Korir on 30th October 2017.

The Official communication was made through a letter dated 22nd November 2017 and signed by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Charles D. Balvo.

Bishop Crowley, 71 was appointed Bishop of Kitale on 3rd April 1998.

On his speech during the funeral of Bishop Korir, Archbishop Balvo said that the late bishop had left him with something else to do, to look for his successor which he described not to be an easy task.

“Certainly in the next few days someone has to be appointed temporarily to guide and direct the diocese of Eldoret as we seek to find the person who will succeed Bishop Korir,” the Nuncio.

The late Bishop Korir was appointed Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret on 27th April, 1990 and had served the diocese for 27 years till his demise. He was laid to rest on 11th November 2017.

The Catholic Diocese of Eldoret is situated in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya on the western side of the Great Rift Valley. It was curved from Kisumu diocese as the Apostolic Prefecture over 50 years ago on the feast of St. Peter and Paul on June 29, 1953. The diocese was later subdivided three times giving rise to Nakuru, Kitale and Lodwar dioceses.

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Former Rector of Christ the King Major Seminary, Nyeri appointed to KCCB’s National Pastoral Office

By The Catholic Mirror Team

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Rev. Fr. Josiah Muthee Mugera the National Executive Secretary to the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate, which is chaired by Most. Rev. Anthony Muheria of the Archdiocese of Nyeri.

Fr. Muthee will also serve as the National Executive Secretary to the Commission for Liturgy, Ecumenism and the Youth Office, which is under the Pastoral Commission.

He takes over the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate from Rev. Fr. Charles Odira, who served in the same capacity for 6 years.

Before his appointment, Fr. Muthee had just completed his sabbatical year in England after serving as Rector of Christ the King Major Seminary in Nyeri for six years. Earlier, he had served as a visiting formator in the same seminary for 6 years.

In an interview with The Catholic Mirror, Fr. Muthee said he had accepted the appointment with an open heart and mind because pastoral work is translating what is theoretical in the Church to practical by evangelizing to every person.

“With that in mind, I am very open and I have accepted the appointment,” said Fr. Muthee. “It is a big task, it is a challenge, bearing in mind the many challenges Christians are facing from the secular world.”

Having been a priest for the last 27 years, and Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator in the Catholic Diocese of Murang’a for six year Fr. Muthee says he has acquired a lot of experience in pastoral work.

“I have been involved in pastoral work especially in a number of parishes, both as a Parish Priest and Assistant Parish Priest, and I bring my own experience especially when it comes to formation of Christians,” he says.

Fr. Muthee is convinced that his exposure as a formator in the seminary has helped him understand the mind of the Church and think in a more practical way and this will help him in coordinating various pastoral activities.

Top on his list, Fr. Muthee says he will follow recommendations by his predecessor on the projects he had initiated.

“I will ensure there is proper coordination of the lay apostolate and movements in terms of their goals and how they are supposed to function in the Church, especially in implementing what John Paul II gave as a guideline in the mission of the lay faithful in the Church.”

He says he will ensure harmony of Church associations, and if any one of them requires recognition, he will guide them through the due process of granting them space for acceptance.

“The other very important thing that I want to put in place that was handed to me is a national harmonious way of running the Church through the Parish Council and Small Christian Communities,” says Fr. Muthee.

He noted that Canon Law allows the lay faithful to become part of the day-to-day running of the Church.

“When we have a national harmonious way of running our parishes, and common principals and common policies, it will ease and facilitate the apostolate or the pastoral activities of the Church in Kenya,” he says.

Fr. Muthee says he intends to interact with young people more through forums where they can freely share their ideas, and in conjunction with their chaplains, deliberate on issues affecting them to understand what approaches to take, respecting and considering their opinions.

Fr. Muthee adds that he would like to have a Christ centred approach to the pastoral ministry. “When we talk about pastoral it is about shepherding. When Christ is at the centre of our apostolate we are bound to succeed as he is our master,” said Fr. Muthee.

On liturgy, Fr. Muthee says his appeal is to have a well-celebrated liturgy; the one that recognizes liturgy as a gift.

“All of us priests and the laity should realize that we are stewards of the liturgy because it is a gift given to us by Christ and the Church.”

He added that when liturgy is celebrated well, it becomes a source of evangelization. “It is not only about norms but it is a liturgy that touches lives and people are able to be inspired through a good way of celebrating the liturgy.”

 

Fr. Muthee holds a Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy from Santa Giustina University (Padua)- an affiliate college of St. Anselm University in Rome.

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Press Release, Tuesday 20th November 2017: CALL FOR CALM AND SOBRIETY

Press Release

CALL FOR CALM AND SOBRIETY

We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, are saddened by the news that some Kenyans have lost lives in some areas of Nairobi and Nyanza. We are equally saddened to hear and see rampart destruction of property and disruption of business of Kenyans as witnessed in the recent past. We condemn all acts of violence and killings witnessed in these areas. We condole with the families that have lost their loved ones in these unclear circumstances, especially in the recent past.

We appeal to all the politicians and other people to work toward unifying the Country and shun divisive politics and reckless utterances which lead to animosity and violence. We also call upon the Government and its security agencies to protect Kenyans and their properties from criminals, regardless of their political affiliation. Hence, the Government security agencies, should bring to book all the criminals currently perpetrating violence on poor Kenyans by killing, destroying property and disrupting businesses.

We call upon the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Kenya National Human Rights Commission, the Directorate of Public Prosecution and other agencies to act with objectivity to ensure that all those involved criminal acts are judged and prosecuted.

We urge all Kenyans to embrace peace and resist any attempt to persuade them in engaging in criminal activities. In particular, we urge our young people not to allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians to cause violence and destroy property.

Finally, we send our heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of those who have recently lost their loved ones through road accidents, especially at Salgaa and other areas of Kenya. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families are experiencing the pain of losing their loved ones. We call all road users to adhere to road safety rules, especially as we enter into schools’ holiday and Christmas festivities.

Chairman

Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Press Statement “Let one and all Arise … to build this our Nation together”

“Let one and all Arise … to build this our Nation together”

We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Nairobi, have reflected on the words of the second and third stanzas of our National Anthem which form the basis of the title of this proclamation and also the message in the Holy Scripture which reads as follows: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Once again, we wish to address you our dear Kenyans and all people of goodwill regarding the various matters of national concern our Country Kenya is seized with.
1.    We, the Bishops, applaud the National Super Alliance (NASA) for heeding our call to present their petition to the Supreme Court to be heard and determined instead of taking the electoral dispute to the court of public opinion, which would have led to unmitigated conflicts and violence. This act of filing the petition at the Supreme Court of Kenya has enhanced the place of our Institutions, especially the Supreme Court in dispute resolution.

2.    Now that the Supreme Court has discharged its obligation by delivering the ruling on 1st September 2017 within the fourteen days allowed for determination of the presidential petition, we call on all Kenyans to abide by and respect this decision and for all to implement the orders accordingly.

3.    We, the Catholic Bishops, call on all Kenyans to uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court and Constitutional institutions even when we do not agree with their decisions. While every individual can criticize any institution that he or she disagrees with, attacks that diminish the integrity of the Judiciary and any other public institution should stop. We call for an end to this open intimidation and threats to the Judiciary and the Supreme Court.  We call upon the Jubilee and other leaders to accept the ruling and stop the threats, intimidation and vendetta against the Supreme Court. The singling out of Chief Justice David Maraga for vilification carries much more weight than criticism. We can only build our Country together where there is goodwill.

4.     We hail all Kenyans for coming out in large numbers on August 8th, 2017  to vote.  We urge you all in the same spirit to turn out in large numbers on October 17th to vote for your preferred presidential candidate as announced by IEBC. Ensure you engage in peaceful and respectful campaigns and turn out to exercise your democratic right and responsibility of electing leaders and the Government to serve you. Please uphold our national values to ensure the election is credible, free and fair and held in a peaceful manner.

5.    We welcome the orders of the Supreme Court ruling which asked IEBC to arrange and carry out a fresh presidential election within sixty days. Accordingly, we now urge all parties to support IEBC to deliver on its constitutional mandate. On one hand, we are particularly concerned by the NASA threats to boycott the fresh presidential election that was ordered by the Supreme Court if their ultimatums are not met. On the other hand, we have seen Jubilee leaders acting as spokespersons of the IEBC. These actions infringe on the independence and authority of IEBC. We, as Bishops, call on all Kenyans to develop constructive channels of dealing with the challenges IEBC is faced with and to stop attacking the Institution charged with the responsibility of managing elections.  We, should, as a Country, learn to have amicable ways and means of registering our grievances and resolving our challenges within the time we have before October 17th.  Even with the best intentions, there are actions that may not be completed in time. May the spirit of wisdom prevail.

6.    At the same time, we urge IEBC to be highly consultative and transparent in its preparations for the forthcoming presidential election. We, the Catholic Bishops, accept and support the calls for essential administrative, procedural and operational actions and reforms that may need to be carried out to ensure the fresh presidential election is conducted in strict conformity with the Constitution and the electoral laws as the Supreme Court directed. To this end, we offer ourselves, with the other members of the Mediation Panel of the Religious Leaders under the Multi-Sectoral Forum, to facilitate quick talks at the request of IEBC that will help build consensus and confidence around the preparations, processes and actions leading to the holding of the fresh presidential election in October 17, 2017. IEBC must work with utmost integrity to gain the confidence of the stakeholders and the citizens of Kenya.

7.    In conclusion dear Kenyans, the Catholic Church will continue to stand for the strengthening of institutions, dialogue and mediation and peace-building to ensure that Kenya holds a free, fair and credible election as ordered by the Supreme Court. As your Shepherds, we are available to accompany and pray with you at every stage of the journey as we endeavor to build our Country together in one accord.  Let all with one arise, with hearts both strong and true. This is our moment of patriotism and, we must show that our minds have been renewed and transformed.

Fellow Kenyans, let us pray for our Country and live up to the call of our faith and National Anthem. We commend this Country to prayer for peace, justice and prosperity.

Signed                   Wednesday, 6th September 2017
Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo
CHAIRMAN
KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

PRESENT                        ARCH/DIOCESE
1.    Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo                             – Chairman of KCCB/Homa Bay
2.    Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa                     – Vice-Chairman/Ngong
3.    His Eminence John Cardinal Njue        – Nairobi
4.    Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth                    – Kisumu
5.    Most Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde        – Mombasa
6.    Most Rev. Anthony Muheria                    – Nyeri
-Apostolic Administrator, Kitui
-Apostolic Administrator, Machakos
7.    Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir             – Eldoret
8.    Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa          – Kisii
9.    Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley                         – Kitale
10.    Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich                              – KCCB
11.    Rt. Rev. Norman King’oo Wambua        – Bungoma
12.    Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara                                 – Marsabit
13.    Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng’ang’a             – Auxiliary- Nairobi
14.    Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo              – Isiolo Vicariate
15.    Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante                              – Maralal
16.    Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi                      – Meru
17.    Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo                  – Kericho
18.    Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina            – Murang’a
19.    Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru                     – Embu
20.    Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba   – Nakuru
21.    Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich                  – Lodwar
22.    Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia                           – Nyahururu
23.    Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro                   – Garissa
24.    Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Barbara                 – Malindi
25.    Rt. Rev. Joseph Obanyi Sagwe              – Kakamega
26.    Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin K. Maswili       – Apostolic Administrator,
Military Ordinariate

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STATE OF OUR NATION

TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE (John 8:32)

We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Nairobi, wish to address all Kenyans and all people of goodwill in regard to the recent elections. We do note with appreciation the manner in which Kenyans turned out in large numbers to vote peacefully and exercise their constitutional responsibility and right. Thank you Kenyans for this sense of patriotism and love for our Nation.

When we launched our Lenten Campaign in February this year, we called upon all Kenyans not only to pray for peaceful national elections we made an appeal to actively engage in the whole electoral process with particular attention to its credibilty and the quality of the candidates offering themselves to be elected. We stated clearly that we wanted men and women of integrity to rule this Country.  We are grateful to God for the peaceful manner we all voted as Kenyans and we are full of hope that even the present situation we are in as a result of the disputed Presidental votes will be determined and concluded peacefully.

After voting peacefully and hoping for the completion of the electoral process, we started hearing allegations of hacking of the IEBC computers and the interference  with regard to the Presidential votes. The protests and the violence experienced in some parts of the Country were very sad and painful. It reminded us of the post election violence of 2007/2008 that we, as a Nation,  had vowed never again to experience.

We were, therefore, concerned, when, within a very short time after the recent declaration of the Presidential results, a section of Kenyans who were dissatisfied protested and were confronted brutally by the same security agencies that are meant to protect them. This led to painful loss of life, the barricading of roads and the destruction of property. This is a wake up call for all us,  including our political leaders, to tread carefully and put the love of this Country above all other considerations. To all those who have lost their loved ones we want to assure you that we are grieving together and are with you in our prayers.

Dear Kenyans, to lose even one life because of elections is abominable. To injure and maim anybody is unacceptable. This must never be allowed in any civilized society like Kenya. It is imperative upon all State Agents of security and indeed all peace loving Kenyans, to exercise civility and restraint in responding to disputes and protests. We note with concern the discordant claims from the same State Agents and Commissions on one hand, reporting of several deaths, and on the other hand, denying any deaths. This is disturbing and confusing. Kenyans want the truth of exactly what happened.

Concerning the recent contested Presidential  election results, our stand as your shepherds has been very clear: all the aggrieved parties should use the legal means as provided for in the Constitution to seek redress.  Thus we applaud the decision by the opposition NASA Coalition to take their case to the Supreme Court for legal determination. It is only by respecting and having recourse to the established Constitutional institutions that we, as Kenyans, are able to enhance and strengthen the rule of law and the democratic process in our Country.

Let the Judiciary be given time to handle and determine the case for the greater good of all Kenyans. Similarly we call upon the Judiciary and other Constitutional institutions to jealously protect their independence and discharge their mandate justly, in a fair and impartial manner; to act without any favour, and not to give in to any form of coercion or intimidation. This is the only way these institutions will earn the trust and confidence of all Kenyans. In the meantime, it is incumbent upon all Kenyans, and especially politicians to exercise utmost charity and restraint in word and action, to think of this country and avoid any reckless utterance or behaviour that creates tension and division along tribal and party lines.

As Catholic Bishops, we are convinced that Kenya needs to pay attention to the post-election issues that are simmering underneath. We should have a deliberate agenda of post-election audit, review and reforms to be undertaken by all stakeholders. It is, therefore, important to understand that what is happening at every election time is pointing to underlying issues that affect many Kenyans. It is important for us to face boldly the unresolved issues of National healing, cohesion, reconciliation, inclusivity, corruption, poverty, unemployment and negative ethnicity.

In particular we need to evaluate the way we have been conducting our elections since the outcome and results have always been contested bitterly. It seems to us that there are too many loopholes that need to be sealed. As a country we need to seek for an electoral process that works for us, that respects  and integrates the uniqueness and the diversity we have as Kenyans. The ugly divisions that we witness every election year, the tribal voting pattern that emerges,  the hatred that is triggered by the winners and losers syndrome, and the win-it-all mentality that characterizes Kenyan politics are pointers to an electoral system that needs to be reviewed. These are issues that would require a united effort and to be looked at with sobriety. In this case we call for a national dialogue and a deeper reconciliation process among all Kenyans, so that we may heal our nation, and forge ahead together to build a united, prosperous Kenya, where the dignity of each person is respected and all have equal opportunities to enjoy the wealth of this Nation.

As we await the determination of the disputed Presidential elections by the Supreme Court, we call upon our Government leaders, beginning with the President to take the lead in uniting the country. We urge all political leaders to uphold the rule of law and respect constitutional institutions, Commissions and independent offices. We urge all Kenyans to avoid anything that incites others to violent protests.

Fellow Kenyans, let us have hope for our country, let us build confidence in our institutions and allow them to discharge their mandate in accordance with the constitution. We commend this country to prayer for peace, justice and prosperity. God bless you all.  God bless Kenya.

Signed                             Date 17th August 2017

Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo
Chairman Kenya conference of Catholic Bishops/Bishop of  Homa Bay

Present
BISHOP                                                        DIOCESE

Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa                             Vice Chairman (KCCB)/Ngong
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue               Nairobi
Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth                           Kisumu
Most Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde              Mombasa
Most Rev. Anthony Muheria                          Nyeri
Apostolic Administrator, Kitui
Apostolic Administrator, Machakos
Rt. Rev. Cornelius Arap Korir                        Eldoret
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa                 Kisii
Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich                                       KCCB
Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley                                Kitale
Rt. Rev. Norman Wambua King’oo               Bungoma
Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, IMC                              Marsabit
Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng’ang’a                      Aux. Bishop Nairobi
Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC            Isiolo Vicariate
Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante                                       Maralal
Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi                               Meru
Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo                            Kericho
Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria                                 Kitui
Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina                       Muranga
Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru                               Embu
Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba              Nakuru
Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich                            Lodwar
Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Barbara                             Malindi

Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia                                      Nyahururu
Rt. Rev. Joseph Obanyi Sagwe                         Kakamega

Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro                               Garissa

Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin K. Maswili                 Apostolic Administrator
Military Ordinariate

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Investigate and apprehend perpetrators of School unrest, says bishop

Investigate and apprehend perpetrators of School unrest, says bishop

The Catholic Church is disturbed by the wave of burning of schools in some parts of Kenya and appeals to the relevant government organs to thoroughly investigate and bring perpetrators to book.

Addressing the media in Nakuru on 20th, July, 2016, Chairman of The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Education and Religious Education Rt. Rev Maurice Muhatia Makumba said there seems to be a third hand from outside of the school community that is facilitating and inciting the burning of school facilities.

Bishop Muhatia stressed that,  the main causes of the burning of schools is not the new rules by the cabinet secretary adding that, the rules that have been made to deal with indiscipline and criminal activities at the school level should be implemented to the latter without fear or favour.

He appealed to the principals, teachers, boarding masters and mistresses and chaplains to be very strict with the supervision of all school facilities saying that, the burning of schools is perpetuated by a few students and many children are innocent. “We should find a mechanism to isolate perpetrators and avoid communal consequences by the actions of a few elements,” he said

Bishop Muhatia also appealed to all Kenyans to reflect on the moral direction of the nation and join hands in bringing up a young generation that respects and understands the importance of common good.

So far, more than 30 dormitories have been burnt down in more than 20 schools in Kenya in the last two months. Most of them in the western part of the country.
By Rose Achiego

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Youth converge in Nairobi to celebrate national mass

It was pomp and colour as hundreds of Catholic youth from across the dioceses in Kenya converged at the National Youth Centre for the National Youth Mass, under the theme,  Rejoice in the Lord.

The annual celebration was marked with a procession led by youth from the Diocese of Nakuru followed by the mass servers, the priests and finally the bishops. Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Nakuru was the main celebrant.

In his homily, Bishop Muhatia told the youth that it was a day to reflect on the 10 commandments, to keep and be faithful to them.

He encouraged the youth to imitate Christ Jesus Christ is saying: I am the new temple and no matter how much you try to destroy it, I will rebuild it because the temple is eternal.  He reminded the youth that they are the members of the new temple.

Bishop Muhatia cautioned the youth not to go against the will of God. Today there are many voices asking the youth to lower their ethical and religious standards,  said Bishop Muhatia urging the young people to be firm in their faith in Christ. He reminded them that they are the hope, present and future of the Church. You have a lot of energy which can be channeled through self destruction or building yourselves. The answers to all our anxiety can only be found in Christ. The only true wisdom can be found in Christ.

The bishop further urged the youth to be generous to one another. He informed them that the whole Church was represented at the function through all the vocations; marriage life, religious life and priesthood. He called on the youth to be committed so they can live either of the vocation of the church through God’s guidance. He further stressed that all the vocations are important in the Church and none was superior to the other.

Present at the function was Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo, the Bishop of Homa Bay and Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for Pastoral, Lay Apostolate & Family Life, KEC Secretary General, Rev. Fr. Vincent Wambugu, National Executive Secretary Commission for Pastoral, Lay Apostolate & Family Life Rev. Fr. Charles Odira, the National Youth Chaplain Rev. Fr. Adrian Ireri, PMS National Director Rev. Fr. Celestino Bundi, Diocesan Youth Chaplains, other members of the clergy, religious and youth representatives from the Dioceses.

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Role of Faith Based Organizations towards peaceful elections

Rev. Dr. Charles Odira Kwanya during the Peace Building forum for the Members of Parliament towards a peaceful elections at Mombasa Continental beach resort, on the 9/05/2012

Preamble

Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) are defined as actors that have a religious or faith core to their philosophy, membership, or programmatic approach.

It is noted that Kenya is host to various religious organizations that include Christianity, Islam, Hindu, African Traditional Religion and others. In their specific ways, all of them leave their mark on the Kenyan public sphere.

In this forum, I am asked to represent the Christian side, even though as religious people we stand for the same values and principles, consequently what we present is a representation of the collective FBOs in this forum.

Kenya is a theistic society

I would like to begin my humble presentation by emphasizing that Kenya is a theistic society, a fact well acknowledged and demonstrated in the supreme law of our land as follows: ‚ WE THE PEOPLE OF KENYA ACKNOWLEDGING THE SUPREMACY OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF ALL CREATION‚ . Note also the last three words of the same preamble of the new constitution, God‚ blessing is invoked explicitly and conspicuously in the words,  GOD BLESS KENYA‚

Furthermore, Kenya is not just a theistic society it is a monotheistic society as is demonstrated in our national anthem (cf. Constitution chapter 8). ‚O God of all creation‚  is inclusive of the people of Kenya, the politicians of Kenya, faith groups in the republic of Kenya, the 42 or 43 ethnic communities of Kenya, and the resources of Kenya. The justice, peace and prosperity that we are looking for even as we prepare for the elections belong to God.

This is the God of the Christians, of the Muslims, of the Hindus, of the African Traditional Religious practitioners and other faiths hosted in Kenya. This is just a simple way of saying that we need the intervention of God in our pursuit for a sustainable peace in Kenya; and the role of FBOs often referred to as ‚ people of God‚  is indispensable.

So the Faith Based Organizations have the ‚ constitutional  mandate and God given obligation and right to accompany the peace loving Kenyans into and through a peaceful election leading to a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Strategic role of the Faith Based Organization

It is the primary role of the FBOs to pray for a genuine and sustainable peace in our country. This could be achieved through organizing joint prayer meetings, sincere communal and individual prayers for our beloved country. These prayers should not be individual based but must have a National outlook; our prayers cannot be selfish and selective they should capture the whole interest of peace and prosperity of Kenya and the world at large. Praying for an individual to win in an election is not different from what the witch doctors do; they are paid to make individuals, suitable or unsuitable win. An egocentric prayer has no place in the face of God for God has no favorites. Our job is to prayer for good leaders and the rest we entrust to God who knows the hearts of men and women,

FBOs must promote and facilitate the spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness among different communities. They should not be part of the problem by remaining cocooned in their ethnic and religious gabions. There are no foreigners or strangers in the Church so it should facilitate the realization of inclusivity.

The FBOs must remain that prophetic voice of the voiceless, ready to challenge the public and secular leaders fearless without self interest. Besides, the religious leaders must always be non partisan even as they exercise their democratic right and other rights provided for by the constitution of Kenya. They are expected to rise above ethnic and party politics by virtue of their missionary nature; called to serve all.

Through their Churches, religious institutions, structures and competences FBOs are committed to educate the Kenyans on the qualities of good leaders and leadership (not on the choice of any particular candidate). For this reason, FBOs do not endorse any candidate; they do not have a Catholic, Muslim, or Angelical candidate. The FBOs are not political parties; they exercise their democratic right within the social and legal frame work provided in the Kenyan constitution as citizens.

As the conscience of the society, the FBOs are committed to demonstrate the spirit of unity in diversity through ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. The Christians in their diversity have joint forums where they share their Christian values for the common good of the nation. Different religious traditions hosted in Kenya do have joint forums and organizations sharing the same national and religious values.

FBOs expectation of Politicians (Parliamentarians)

To achieve a sustainable peace, FBOs expect cooperation and high level of integrity from the side of our current and prospective honorable Members of Parliament:

Negative ethnicity has been noted as the major contributor to violence and hatred among our communities. Interestingly, one would note that the violence is always experienced during the campaign and election periods and one may ask why? This is why the politicians are well placed to give an honest response to the public. They have the answer and certainly the solution.

It is important to realize that one of the greatest values of our country, in deed our wealth is the ethnic diversity; imagine a country with one single ethnic community! Any one of the 42 ethnic communities in Kenya can not stand alone; as Prof. John Mbiti says, I am because we are‚  together we make a nation called Kenya, unbeatable and strong. We often blame the colonial masters of having divided us along ethnic lines and now we are here paying the prize. Is it possible that our brothers and sisters in politics are using the same colonial tactics of divide and rule to exploit us? This would be shameful and unpatriotic.

Kenyans have noted with concern the ethnic groupings and regional campaigns in this period even before the official campaign time. The politicians are certainly engaging the out fashioned way of doing politics by manipulating their people for their political gain; sometimes doing jobs half way so that the other half is used for the next campaigns. In the past we have even seen electric poles delivered to places then soon after the elections they are withdrawn. Unfortunately, in Kenya, ethnic blood is stronger than the blood of reason, we forget so fast and this is the strength of the scrupulous politicians who would do anything to achieve what they want even at the expense of life.

People and national resources are used as objects of vote: no wonder when a man dies in a given constituency, the worry of our honorable politicians is not so much the loss of life but the loss of a vote or a voter. We have gone that low so as to reduce the dignity of our brothers and sisters to that level.

The Faith Based Organizations feel betrayed by the politicians who would not spare even the places of worship for their political campaigns. Sometimes the politicians are seen in places of worship only during the election period. A politician can be anything from a Muslim to a Christian at that time just to deliver their messages. A politician who does not respect the house of God is not God fearing and so can not protect and uphold the values of our supreme law that acknowledges the supremacy of the Almighty God. Only God fearing leaders can guide the Kenya into a lasting peace and prosperity.

Kenyans are watching as the politicians engage in the endless campaigns that run from one election period to the other without break. If I may ask, when do they deliver their colorful campaign promises? We cannot feed on promises and wishes at all. Utterances like, If I become the president of Kenya, I will construct for you roads‚ or ‚If you elect me I will resettle the IDPS‚  or ‚don’t elect the other person because there is nothing he can offer‚  all these promises and yet you are already serving and earning in the government, where is the sense and must you get an extra term in the government in order to deliver? Why not now?

Kenyans are watching as the politicians exchange insults publicly and calling each other names. Remember, your children are also watching, your wife/husband, brothers and sisters and they all laugh at you. We expect you to respect each other; you represent the dignity of the Kenyan people both nationally and internationally; your bitter open exchanges only fuel further bitter exchanges in our homes and communities. Remember, when you fight the Kenyans also fight, when you make peace, even if it is only apparent, the Kenyans feel secure and sought to live together in peace. You are public figures make yourself worth of your honorable status.

Conclusion

Kenya is our home, it belongs to all of us, we all have a collective and individual responsibility to protect and keep it homely. Let us join together for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya.

GOD BLESS KENYA

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