Nuncio in Kenya Assures Bishop-elect of Pope Francis’ Support, Urges Local Collaboration

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen speaking during the presentation of the Bishop-elect Henry Juma Odonya to the Clergy of Kitale Diocese. Credit: Kitale Diocese

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya has assured the Bishop-elect of the country’s Kitale Diocese of Pope Francis’ “support and prayer” in his Episcopal Ministry.

Mons. Henry Juma Odonya, a member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Eldoret Diocese, was appointed Bishop for Kitale Diocese on November 4. His Episcopal Consecration has been scheduled to take place on 21 January 2023. 

In his speech during the presentation of the Bishop-elect to the Clergy of Kitale Diocese, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen reflected on some of the challenges associated with the Episcopal Ministry.

“We accompany you with our prayers; be assured of the support and prayer of Pope Francis as he is the one who has appointed you,” Archbishop van Megen said during the Tuesday, November 29 event that was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Kitale Diocese.

He added, “We, especially the Priests here and the Religious sisters, will accompany you not only with their prayers but also with their factual support, aid, counsel and encouragement.”


The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who also represents the Holy Father in South Sudan acknowledged with appreciation the readiness of the Kenyan-born Bishop-elect to shepherd the people of God as a Bishop.

“Thank you Fr. Odonya, for accepting this appointment. It needs a kind of courage for that because you get into a new phase in your life where basically you do not know what is going to happen,” Archbishop van Megen said, and added, “You just step into the dark hoping that things will go on well.”

The Dutch-born Vatican Diplomat told Mons. Odonya that he will come across “good and bad” experiences as a Bishop, and encouraged him to trust in God and to remain optimistic especially in the face of challenges.

“As a Bishop, you will hear many things, good and bad ones, things that might give you hope or make you despair, things that will make you understand that God’s grace is very much present in the Diocese and things that will make you see that evil is at work,” said Archbishop van Megen.

He continued, “The good things you may announce; the evil ones keep for yourself to work it out; that is what the Bishop is for. That is also what a father does; he does not expose his children in public; he works with them and tries to correct them.”

More in Africa

Mons. Odonya is expected to succeed Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley whose retirement was made public on November 4. The member of St. Patrick’s Society for the Foreign Missions (Kiltegan Fathers) has served as the Local Ordinary of Kitale since 1998.

Born in December 1976 in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, the Bishop-elect Odonya was ordained a Priest for the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret in February 2006. 

Mons. Odonya started his Priestly formation at St. Mary's Propaedeutic Molo Seminary in Kenya's Diocese of Nakuru in 1997. He later joined St. Augustine Mabanga Seminary in the Diocese of Bungoma, and St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the Archdiocese of Nairobi for his philosophical and theological studies, respectively. 

At the time of his Episcopal appointment, Mons. Odonya was serving as a Formator at St. Patrick’s Philosophy House in the Archdiocese of Durban, South Africa.

Speaking at the November 29 event, the chairman of the Priests in Kitale Diocese, Fr. James Oranga, assured the Bishop-elect of support from the Clergy.


“We are going to cooperate with you; we shall offer you our maximum and unwavering support as the new shepherd and we hope that as the Clergy and Religious of this Diocese, we shall have what we call a workable relationship with you,” said Fr. Oranga.

As a father, he continued, “You will realize that we are your children who are ready to journey with you as we make our Diocese great.”

The Catholic Priest went on to express confidence in the leadership of the Bishop-elect, saying, “Mons. Odonya is not new to us. He has worked amongst us. He has been one of us. He understands us and I am very sure that he is going to shepherd us and guide us well in this Diocese.”

On his part, the Bishop-elect recognized the service of his predecessor in the Kenyan Diocese and promised to be a good shepherd to the people of God after he is consecrated Bishop.

“Since my predecessor ascended to power, a lot has happened to this Diocese; we have witnessed growth in faith; increased numbers of the faithful, parishes, ordinations and even to the increased numbers of vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life,” Mons Odonya said.

(Story continues below)

Once he is Consecrated Bishop, Mons. Odonya who will become the youngest Catholic Bishop in the East African country will serve as the second Local Ordinary of the 11,737 square-kilometer Diocese that was erected in April 1998.

The Diocese has a population of 264,000 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics, and is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kisumu.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.