Fostering Human Dignity, Servant Leadership among Characteristics of Mothers as Church “pillars”: Nuncio in Kenya

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen with Catholic communicators in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Credit: BEAMS

Mothers’ keenness on safeguarding human dignity and their practice of servant leadership are some of the traits that characterize them as “pillars” of Christian communities, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya has said.

This, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen said, on Sunday, May 12, the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ that coincided with the annual celebration of the 58th World Communications Day (WCD) 2024 and the Mother’s Day 2024.

Referring to the April 8 Declaration of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) on Human Dignity, Dignitas Infinita, in which he said Pope Francis explains human dignity as being infinite, without limits, Archbishop van Megen said, “If you want to know what dignity all is about, just look to our mothers, because from our mothers we learn about human dignity.”

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For mothers, the Dutch-born Vatican diplomat said, promoting human dignity “is not all about their comfort and being in the best place, but it is always about a humble service to the family, suffering for the good of the family.”


Despite their vital role in safeguarding human dignity in society and fostering human values, Archbishop van Megen said he finds it regrettable that mothers are undermined.

“Many times, mothers are not really at the center of attention; many times they remain in the background; but everybody knows that without the mother, the family cannot exist,” he lamented, adding that when mothers pass on, they leave behind an “emptiness of void that can never be filled again.”

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The Nairobi-based Vatican diplomat also recognized with appreciation the important place mothers have in society as models of “servant leadership”. 

He said, “Many times, in the church, we speak of servant leadership, but if you want to understand what servant leadership is all about, then look to your mother; she leads by serving.” 

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“A mother has a central place within the family because everyone leans on them for care and guidance,” Archbishop van Megen emphasized in May 12 homily on the annual celebration of the WCD 2024, which Catholic media entities in the Archdiocese of Nairobi (ADN) organized at Our Lady of Assumption Umoja Parish.

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He linked the Solemnity of the Ascension and human dignity, saying, “The feast of today is about our role in society within humanity; how do we, how do you and how do I live that human dignity not just for ourselves but also for others.”

The Solemnity of the Ascension, Archbishop van Megen said, “is about the dignity of myself and the dignity of others and it is also about Mother’s Day. Mothers stand for human dignity; they protect the dignity of their children, they protect even the dignity of their husbands, sacrificing all along their demands.”

Speaking to ACI Africa after the Eucharistic celebration, Patricia Mwende Kilonzo, a parishioner at Our Lady of Assumption Umoja Parish, said she felt encouraged with the Apostolic Nuncio’s recognition of mothers and described them as “pillars of the Church”.


Patricia Mwende Kilonzo, a parishioner at Our Lady of Assumption Umoja Parish. Credit: ACI Africa

“We thank God for the mothers because mothers are the pillars of the Church and we appreciate them wherever they are for they give so much back to the Church as children are brought to the Church through mothers,” Mrs. Kilonzo said.

The member of the Catholic Women Association (CWA) added, “As mothers, we should support our children; we should also bring them to the Church and prioritize praying the rosary as a family just the same way we pray in the church.”

“Let us be good mothers to our children just the same way mother Mary was good to our lord Jesus Christ,” she further said, and continued, “Through God’s grace we should ensure that as mothers, we set a good example for our children, families, friends, and even for the youths in the Church.”

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“We also have to set the same good example in our communities, working spaces, and everywhere we are so that we can build a God-fearing generation,” Mrs. Kilonzo told ACI Africa on May 12.

Also speaking to ACI Africa, Edna Nzau Chege said she appreciated Archbishop van Megen’s recognition of women as models of servant leadership. 

“I agree with him because every woman is a leader right from their home ...every leader comes from a home where there’s a mother; and at every point, you must have a mother figure in your life,” Mrs. Chege said.

She also weighed on mothers as promoters of human dignity. She said, “If you want your children to grow up being dignified and disciplined, you have to show them and this should begin from home.”

Mrs. Edna Nzau Chege (right). Credit: ACI Africa

The Member of CWA at Our Lady of Assumption Umoja Parish urged parents, and especially mothers, to take seriously the responsibility of raising up their children.

She emphasized the need to bring up responsible children, and added, “Let them know they are responsible for everything that happens in their lives and they should not blame anybody for it in case anything goes wrong.”

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With children equipped with the ability to take full responsibility for their actions and inactions, Mrs. Chege said, the society will have future leaders devoid of blame games in the event of a catastrophe.

She also underlined the need for parents and guardians to instill moral teachings in their children amid worrying trends, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning plus (LGBTQ+) that she said are being normalized. 

“Let's prioritize instilling morality in our children starting from home. As parents, it's our responsibility to teach them what we believe is right and beneficial for their development,” the Kenyan CWA member said, and warned, “If we neglect this duty and rely solely on society to shape their moral compass, things are bound to go awry.”

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