Christians urged to give up sin and seek holiness during Lent

By Rose Achiego, Nairobi, Wednesday 26/02/2020

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Deputy General Secretary, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa, has called on Christians to give up sin and seek holiness during this Lenten period so as to renew their faith in Christ.

In his Homily at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat in Nairobi, during Eucharistic Celebrations to mark Ash Wednesday, Fr. Ong’esa said the season of Lent ‘is a moment of preparation by the Christian faithful to renew their baptismal promises and become new creations so they can restore their joy and hope.’

“St. Paul says, when writing to the Romans (6:3-6), that when we were baptized, we died to our old way of life to live a new way of life i.e. when we were baptized we died to our old sinful ways, we left sin behind. Therefore, St. Paul says when we were baptized we went into the tomb with Jesus and rose out of the tomb again with Jesus to a new life,” said Fr. Ong’esa.

He said the penitential rite is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that enables individuals to turn away from sin and go back to God. He told the faithful that their external gestures must always be matched by a sincere heart and consistent behavior.

“The penitential rite with which we begin our every day’s celebration has helped us enter the typical atmosphere of recognition of our sins; which is a personal and community pilgrimage of conversion and spiritual renewal,” he said.

He observed that the season of Lent is a time of special grace for the faithful to repent, give alms and pray, adding that ‘Lent is the ideal time to unmask these and other temptations, to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Christ.’

“The season of Lent gives us time once again to die to our old sinful ways and rise out of the tomb with Jesus to a new way of life, so that by the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night when we renew our baptismal vows, we will also have renewed our lives,” said Fr. Ong’esa.

“The dust of what we are, the dust of what we will become. These marks also proclaim exactly who we are – Christians. We have been claimed by Christ. And for this reason, we have vowed to honor this season leading up to the holiest week on our liturgical calendar.”

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, and falls six and a half weeks before Easter. The Lenten period is one of reflection and repentance of sin, with those who observe it expected to seek reconciliation with God.

The Church encourages the Christian faithful to give up an indulgence, or fast, during Lent as a representation of the Temptation of Christ as he fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judaean Desert.

Ash Wednesday gets its name from early traditions in the Christian Church in Rome, when penitents and sinners would partake in a period of public penance. During this, they were sprinkled with ashes and dressed in a sackcloth until they were reconciled with church-goers on Holy Thursday.

Bishops’ Lent Message: Stewardship will spur the country to greater heights

By Rose Achiego, Nairobi, Monday 24/02/2020

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) in their Lenten Campaign 2020 message has expressed hope that stewardship will spur the country to greater heights if exercised well.

Speaking during the launch of this year’s campaign at the National Marian Shrine – Subukia in Nakuru on 22nd, February 2020, the Vice Chairman of KCCB and Chairman of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC), Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa, said stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service.

Bishop Oballa said the Christians are required to be faithful, responsible and accountable stewards so as to protect God’s creation.

“If we exercise our dominion in a way that ultimately destroys nature’s creative potential or denies the human family the fruits of creation, such action constitutes an offence against God’s original plan for creation,” he said.

He added that education on good stewardship will take place in the family since it is the domestic church and cradle of human civilisation.

Bishop Oballa called on the faithful to oppose all institutions and persons seeking to destroy the family, calling for rejection of gender ideology and the introduction of comprehensive sexual education, which he said, is aimed at destroying the family and consequently, the society.  

This year’s weekly themes include: responsible farming, youth and development, handling of the natural resources, leadership and accountability and sanctity of life and dignity.

President Uhuru supports Bishops' war on corruption

President Uhuru Kenyatta Joins the Bishops in planting trees at Marian Shrine – Subukia Nakuru on 22nd February 2020. This is is the effort of taking care of Mother Home.

By Rose Achiego, Nairobi, Sunday 22/02/2020

His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta on 22nd, February 2020 joined the Catholic Bishops in intensifying war against corruption at Marian Shrine – Subukia in Nakuru Diocese.

Speaking during the launch of this year’s Lenten Campaign, President Kenyatta echoed the Bishops call for the individual examination of conscience and the need to start the war against corruption at a personal level.

“Every Kenyan has a responsibility to fight against corruption. “Do not point fingers at the others.” He said adding that people also have to take care of the environment.

His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and frem left, KCCB Chairman Most Rev. Philip Anyolo, KCCB Vice-chairman and the Chairman of CJPC Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa and Archbishop of Mombasa Most Rev. Martin Kivuva during the Launch of Lenten Campaign in Subukia.

In support of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the President cautioned politicians against dividing Kenyans along ethnic lines for this might cause political animosities.

“There is no need for shading blood because of Political differences. Compete on policies but not on ethnic grounds, come together to be guided by policies for Kenyans not to live in fear because of elections,” he said.

Kenyatta also challenged Kenyans to ensure that peace prevails in the country so as to create a favourable environment where the youth can get employment.

“Ensure there is peace because without peace the youth cannot get employment,” The President said.

He urged the people to internalise and put into practice what the bishops are saying and to spread the gospel insisting that, that is what will move the country forward and enables it to dwell in unity.

The theme of this Year’s Lenten Campaign is “stewardship for a Transformed Nation….My Obligation.”

Christian urged to shun corruption and tribalism

By Rev. Fr. Shadrack Mallo, Kisumu Archdiocese, Tuesday 17/2/2020

The Vicar General of Kisumu, Very Rev. Fr. Moses Omollo has called on the Christian faithful to shun corruption and tribalism.

Addressing the congregation during the launch of the Lenten Campaign 2020 on 14th February, 2020 at St. Theresa Cathedral in Kisumu, Fr. Omollo reinforced the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) war against corruption by urging the faithful to stand against the vices that derail development and divide the country into tribal cocoons. 

“Ensure that you stand strong against the evil of tribalism among other vices that may lead to corrupt dealings. Corruption kills the moral of the society,” he said.

Echoing the theme of this year’s National Lenten Campaign theme, Stewardship for a transformed nation….my obligation, Fr. Omollo said, as stewards responsible for God’s creation, Church leaders and the faithful should be at the fore front in the nationwide anti-corruption campaign dubbed ‘Breaking the chain of corruption.’

Fr. Omollo launched the campaign in the Archdiocese on behalf of the Bishop of Kisumu, Most Rev. Philip Anyolo, who was away on official duty. He reminded the Christians about the key aspects of the Lent season which are prayer, fasting and alms giving.

The function was attended by the clergy, religious men and women and the laity, among them being members of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission drawn from various parishes and institutions of the archdiocese.

This year’s launch of the National Lenten Campaign will be held on 22nd February, 2020, at the National Marian Shrine, Subukia, in the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru.

Religious Sister appointed to head KCCB’s Social Communications Commission

National Executive Secretary for KCCB – Commission for Social Communication Rev. Sr. Adelaide Ndilu

By Rose Achiego, Nairobi, Wednesday 19/2/2020

Rev. Sr. Adelaide Ndilu, a Religious Sister of the Congregation of Sisters of the Immaculate Mother of Mary founded in Nigeria, has been appointed to head the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Social Communications effective January 2020.

Sr. Ndilu, who has been serving as the Administrator of Radio Waumini, takes over from Br. Elias Mokua, SJ.

In an exclusive interview with the Kenya Catholic Media Network News, Sr. Ndilu, who is taking up her new role on an acting capacity, said her first priority will be to revamp the KCCB website and give it more visibility with up-to-date content on the events and works of the Catholic Church in Kenya.

She said she will pick up from where Br. Mokua has left and work to strengthen the Catholic Media Network in Kenya through training of Parish Communication Agents in various dioceses and enhance collaboration among the Catholic Radios.

“I am ready to work with the team to strengthen and unite the Catholic Media as one body,” said Sr. Ndilu.

On his part, Br. Mokua has expressed optimism about his successor, noting that Sr. Ndilu brings on board rich experience in radio management and programming gained from her many years of service at Radio Waumini.

“Our Diocesan Radios need this expertise,” said Br. Mokua.

He said by appointing Sr. Ndilu to a national office, the Church has shown great commitment in supporting and empowering the role of women in leadership.

Meanwhile, speaking during the official introduction of Sr. Ndilu to the Communications Staff, KCCB Deputy General Secretary, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa Manwa, called for cooperation and teamwork to strengthen the Social Communications Commission. He said Br. Mokua will continue to support the bishops on a range of issues at the Conference level.

Bishop Oballa: Fighting corruption calls for divine commitment

From left KCCB Chaiman for Commission for Mission Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro and KCCB Principal Administrator Rt. Rev John Oballa Owaa

By Rose Achiego

The Principal Administrator of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Chairman of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) Rt. Rev. Oballa says the fight against corruption is a divine commitment that calls for a concerted effort from church leaders and the faithful.

Speaking during the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Annual General Meeting on 11th, February 2020, at JJ McCarthy Spiritual Centre in Nairobi, Bishop Oballa said the Bishops’ declaration made on 5th, October 2020 in Subukia, Nakuru is a bigger commitment beyond the secretariat.

“Making the declaration to fight corruption by removing shoes is a bigger commitment. Corruption, impunity and a sense of hopelessness require a prophetic voice. A move to say as people of God we can do this together,” Bishop Oballa said.

He therefore called on PMS and Pontifical Missionary Childhood (PMC) Directors and Coordinators to channel the prophetic message to stun the minds of Kenyans and people who believe in Christ to take forward an agenda that has been proposed by the local Church.

“This war can only be achieved through mutual collaboration. Carry out what God requires from us at a particular moment. See how best you can collaborate with other ministers in the church like the communication and pastoral offices, catechists, other groups and movements in the Church,” he said.

Rt. Rev. Oballa who is the Bishop of Ngong said there is a need for Directors to establish a relationship with God as a team so as to evangelise and realise the war against corruption.

“Quality of reflection and prayer as a team has a ripple effect in the lives of people. You also need to embrace principles and values of dialogue, solidarity, participation and partnership   in evangelisation,” he said.

Bishop Oballa said humility is a virtue that needs to be promoted by building effective mutual collaboration in the mission of the church.

“Ministers ought to show mutual concerns for relationships which promote all round dignity of persons and family,” he said adding that it is important to establish good and effective structures of mutual collaboration among the clergy and members of the laity.

Meanwhile, the Chairman for KCCB – Commission for Mission Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro said mission is an event that makes it possible for everyone to be available  for the proclamation of good news to the ends of the earth in structural and orderly manner.

He added that the work of PMS is to raise awareness and foster prayer and cooperation in the entire Catholic Church hence need creativity and collaboration in evangelization.

Kenyan Bishops Eulogise Moi as man who believed in God

By Rose Achiego

Catholic Bishops in Kenya have eulogised the Late Retired President Daniel Arap Moi as a man who believed in God and one who committed his entire life to causes of peace, love and unity.

In a statement signed by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Most Rev. Philip Anyolo on 5th, February 2020, the Bishops said President Moi worked hard for his Nation from humble beginnings to take charge of the country’s top leadership office for 24 years.

Archbishop Anyolo said the Bishops and the entire Catholic fraternity in Kenya remember the life of a man who believed in God and manifested with actions, adding that the late Mzee Moi prayed to God for guidance and always put God before all that he intended to do.

They conveyed their tribute and prayers to the family and friends of the late Mzee Moi and condoled with those who depended on his guidance, generosity and friendship.

Speaking during the burial of Kenya’s Second President, current President Uhuru Kenyatta described Moi as a strict but forgiving man, urging his family members and those whom he nurtured to emulate the life of the departed former president.

“I am here to mourn a man I considered a father, teacher and mentor and giant of Africa,” said President Uhuru. “He was my father. He worked with my father and he raised us after my father’s death. I have benefitted from his love. I have learnt politics from him.”

Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto, who was also introduced into politics by the late Former President said Mzee Moi taught Kenyans unity and did not engage in divisive politics, noting that he was fatherly to many politicians.

“Today we are burying a legend and our father,” said the Deputy President. “We thank the Moi children for allowing us to share him with us, because he was our father, too.”

President Moi’s remains were flown in a military helicopter to his home in Kabarak, Nakuru for burial. The former head of state who died at the age of 95 years, was accorded a state funeral. Prior to his determent, his body was taken to Parliament building on Saturday 9th, February, 2020, where it lay-in-State for three days for public viewing. On 11th, February 2020, his body was taken to Nyayo National Stadium for an interdenominational funeral service in a special military Gun Carriage escorted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenyan military.

Bishop of Eldoret Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich represented the Bishops during the final send off of Mzee Moi in his home in Kabarak Nakuru on 12th, February 2020.

Bishop Rotich calls on Christians to love one another

The Chairman of KCCB – Cmmission for Ecumenism Rt. Rev Alfred Rotich

By Rose Achiego and Samuel Waweru

The Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Ecumenism, Rt. Rev Alfred Rotich, has called on Christians to go out of their way to extend acts of unusual love and compassion to one another regardless of their religious backgrounds.

Addressing the Christian faithful at the All Saints Cathedral during celebrations to mark the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on Saturday 18th January, 2019, Bishop Rotich emphasized the need for Christians to build each other spiritually so as to offer unusual hospitality.

“Love unites naturally. Real love is coming to a place where people will love without being impressed with you,” said Bishop Rotich.

He said Churches and Christian have a mandate to open their door and receive others because they are made in the image of God, noting that humility and kindness are the two most important values in life and keeping both creates a strong bond amongst Christians.

“Christian unity will be easy to achieve if all churches and denominations embrace kindness and humility,” he said.

Meanwhile, the KCCB Deputy General Secretary, who is also the National Executive Secretary for the KCCB – Commission for Ecumenism, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa, has said working for ecumenism is a spiritual duty of all Christians and called on every individual person to develop a spiritual heart so that all in the society can live harmoniously and promote the common good of humanity for the greater glory of God.

“Christian unity is not about conversion, it is about Christ commissioning apostles,” said Fr. Ong’esa. “It is preaching about Christ and going out to witness by faith.  As Jesus told the Apostles… “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

Fr. Ong’esa quoted Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical “That they may be one (Ut Unum Sin)” issued in 1995 that called on Christians to uproot anything that divides the people and look at the pillars that unite them more than those that divide them.

Working through the inter-religious council, leaders of mainstream churches have come together to promote and restore unity of purpose, respond to social issues of the family, responsible parenting, lobbying the Government to offer quality and inclusive health care and to develop good development policies, among other issues.

This year’s theme, ‘they showed us unusual kindness’ was chosen by Christians in Malta, an Island Nation that is 90% Catholic. The theme reflects on the journey of St. Paul from Jerusalem to the ends of the world, where he suffered a shipwreck and was rescued from drowning in Malta by strangers who treated him with unusual love. The theme was chosen to remind Christians worldwide of kindness, welcome and the bonds of common humanity which are the main pillars of ecumenism.

KCCB Deputy General Secretary and the National Executive Secretary for Commission for Ecumenism Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa during pastoral work. 

Former AMECEA Secretary General to head KCCB Canon Law National Office

From left, KCCB – Human Resource Officer Hellen Rutto, Former AMECEA Secretary General, Very Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo, Outgoing Director, Rev. Fr. Calisto Nyagilo and KCCB Deputy General Secretary, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa

By Rose Achiego

Former Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Secretary General, Very Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo, has been appointed as Director of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Canon Law National Office.

Fr. Lugonzo took over office on 4th, February 2020 from the outgoing Director, Rev. Fr. Calisto Nyagilo in a ceremony held at the Catholic Secretariat in Waumini House, Nairobi. Fr. Nyagilo has been serving at the Canon Law National Office on a part-time basis for the last five years.

In his parting remarks, Fr. Nyagilo paid tribute to the Bishops for granting him an opportunity to serve at the Conference level. He disclosed that during his time in office, he has trained tens of thousands of people on child protection and safeguarding, among them being members of the Clergy, Religious and lay faithful across the dioceses.

Speaking during the handing over ceremony, KCCB Deputy General Secretary, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa thanked Fr. Nyagilo for his faithful commitment and love for the Church in executing his duties. He observed that Fr. Nyagilo worked professionally as a Canonist and having acquired knowledge and skills on safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons from Rome, he was able to create awareness of the abuses that surround these people in Kenya.

“Fr. Lugonzo who worked at this secretariat in the Canon Law National Office in 2011 for five months before being seconded to AMECEA as Secretary General comes back to the conference with humility. He takes over the Canon Law National Office as a Canonist,” said Fr. Ong’esa.

Oh his part, Fr. Lugonzo thanked God and the Bishops for granting him another opportunity to serve at the Canon Law National Office after being away for almost nine years.

He appreciated Fr. Nyagilo for initiating the formation of structures and drafting policies on Child Safeguarding and committed to oversee their implementation through creation of the necessary structural framework.

He exhibited confidence to push the child safeguarding agenda further in close collaboration with his predecessor whom he said has vast knowledge and skills, having attended a six-months’ training in Rome on issues of Child Safeguarding.

Strathmore University dedicates 2020 as ‘Year of war against corruption’

Strathmore VC Professor John Odhiambo/ PhotoCourtesy

By Rose Achiego

Strathmore University has dedicated 2020 as a year to intensify the war against corruption.

Having been encouraged by the University Chancellor, Monsignor Fernando Ocariz to be more proactive in the war against graft and to remain steadfast despite challenges, the Vice Chancellor Professor John Odhiambo said they have chosen a theme and a tagline for the year to be: Year of Promoting Ethical Behaviour: Do good, Be more, Fight Corruption.

According to a document signed by Prof Odhiambo, the Institution will echo the voice of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Anti-Corruption Campaign by increasing public awareness on the ills of corruption, encourage individuals to resist corrupt practices and encourage honesty among students.

He said the journey towards ridding the society of corrupt practices will be long and tough, hence called for collective responsibility in fighting graft.

“Let us do so by focusing on the person, by striving to be better, by being good role models, conscious that with me, begins the end of corruption. Let us arise, be useful, put on our cloak of integrity and join the noble cause,” he said.

Prof Odhiambo added that to be more ethical on personal level, Strathmore University needs to be proactive and take leadership in promoting values in the country. “We could do this by organising conferences, debates and workshops, we could blog and tweet about the theme. We could write op-ed pieces and join in or produce television shows, plays or documentaries,” he said.