“A Holy space”: Nuncio at Kenyan Church Consecration, Cautions against Politics in Church

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen officially opens the door of the St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi in Kenya on 13 May 2023. Credit: St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish

The representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has underscored the need to respect Catholic church buildings, and cautioned against using the “holy space” for politics.

In his homily during the Saturday, May 13 consecration of St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen said, “This is a holy space. This is not the space for political meetings.”

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan. Credit: ACI Africa

“This is not the space for politicians to present their political programs or to shout at each other,” Archbishop van Megen further said at the Parish that the late Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki blessed in the year 2000.

He explained and emphasized, “This is the place of God only where only He has a right to speak, where only He has a right to present His program.”


Archbishop Hubertus van Megen presents the key to consecrated Church to the Parishioners. Credit: ACI Africa

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who also represents the Holy Father in South Sudan went on to explain the identity of the church as a place where the needy in society are prioritized over “the powerful”.

“The Church is not about the powerful. The church is not about those who have,” he said at the Parish in Nairobi’s Karen suburb under the pastoral care of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost Fathers – Spiritans).

Credit: ACI Africa

The Dutch Vatican diplomat who has served as Apostolic Nuncio since 2014 added, “The church is very much about those who have not, about the blind, the lame, those who struggle, those who cannot make it in society, and those who struggle to make ends meet.”

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“Many times for us, there is the temptation as Priests and even as (women and men) Religious and Bishops, and as a Nuncio to identify with power, glory and respect,” he lamented during the May 13 event that saw the blessing of the Marian Grotto and the Chapel of the Holy Family that have been constructed at St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish in Karen.

Credit: ACI Africa

Identifying solely with the powerful in society, the Apostolic Nuncio warned, makes a church leader “always fall for the temptation to crush those who have not.”

“God invites us into his house. God invites us into the holiest of holy places where he lives and he wants us to go away with all our desire for power, for respect for money and for glory and just to sit down, in all our humility in who we truly are, with our defects, with our inner struggles, with our inner pains, with the painful secrets we drag with us, with the problems we are not able to resolve, with the pain and the tears that we try to hide behind our eyes,” he said. 

Credit: ACI Africa


“God is here for us,” Archbishop van Megen said.

Also speaking during the May 13 event, the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Lodwar Diocese lauded parishioners for their respective contributions to the growth of the Parish, echoing the Apostolic Nuncio’s appeal for respect for sacred spaces. 

Bishop John Mbinda, Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Lodwar Diocese. Credit: ACI Africa

“These places have been dedicated and blessed that we go to our nice traditional Catholic ways of honoring our places,” Bishop John Mbinda, a member of the Spiritans, said.

Bishop Mbinda added, “The holy places should be approached with decorum, and if you approach other places with decorum which is appropriate to those places, what about the place where God speaks to us and is waiting for us and reminds us all the time the place we are standing in, is holy ground.”

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“When you come to these places, if you are strong like me, just genuflect and greet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Honor His presence and with humility, He will reach out to you,” the first-ever Kenyan Spiritan Bishop said.

Credit: ACI Africa

He continued, “If you cannot kneel, just genuflect with respect and this will take us a long way to teach the young ones. Let us not let them down. Let us lead them by example. I think when we do this one of the days in the future, we will gather here to say to the Lord we did it right for ourselves and for the future generations.” 

“May God bless us abundantly and may we use these places as holy grounds where we encounter God and deepen our faith,” Bishop Mbinda implored. 

On his part, the Provincial Superior of the Spiritans in Kenya and South Sudan, thanked parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish for facilitating the successful consecration of their church and the blessing of the Marian Grotto and Holy Family Chapel. 

The Provincial Superior of the Spiritans in Kenya and South Sudan, Fr. Dominic Gathurithu. Credit: ACI Africa

Fr. Dominic Gathurithu said, “The cooperation you have shown to our Clergy, the Spiritan Priests who work here, we appreciate very much that cooperation.”

“Let us continue in that spirit; the church building is never finished. Very soon you will discover there is another need. Then again, you do that,” Fr. Gathurithu said, adding, “The church will continue to grow and to be built so that we can glorify God and be happy, increasing faith in this beautiful church, this beautiful Parish of St. John the Evangelist.”

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen anoints 12 points of the walls of the church building with chrism oil. Credit: ACI Africa

Also speaking during the May 13 event, the Parish Priest of St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish thanked parishioners for their “generous giving towards these projects.”

“Your continuous prayers, words of encouragement spurred us on, even when the going seemed difficult,” Fr. Patrick Mwania said, and added, “We have what it takes as far as infrastructural development is concerned. I pray and urge that we use these spiritual structures to grow in faith.”

Fr. Patrick Mwania, the Parish Priest of St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish. Credit: ACI Africa

Fr. Mwania further urged members of the Legion of Mary Devotion who were commissioned during the May 13 Eucharistic celebration to remain firm in their faith and to win more souls for Christ.

“The creation of a new devotion in our Parish, the legion of Mary, is a step in the right direction of making sure that we have many of such devotions to help nurture the faith of our parishioners,” the Kenyan Spiritan Priest said on the day members of the Legion of Mary in Kenya celebrated the planned 79th death anniversary of  Venerable Edel Quinn who pioneered the lay apostolic association of Catholics that is rooted in Marian spirituality in East and Central Africa.

Credit: ACI Africa

He thanked “all those who have enrolled and members of this devotion” and added that he was praying “that after this official inauguration, you will get the moment to start and recruit more parishioners to be part of that very important devotion.”

“Let us also as little children, run to our Lady and our Mother, and ask her to guide us on our way to Heaven, our true eternal home whose foretaste we continue to daily encounter,” the Professor of Theology at Nairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC) implored during the May 13 event, the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917 (Feast of Our Lady of Fatima).

Credit: ACI Africa

St. John the Evangelist Holy Ghost Parish was established by Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, the then Archbishop of Nairobi. 

It took off in 1995 when the Servant of God, Cardinal Otunga, assigned the coordination task to the Spiritans. 

Credit: ACI Africa

In a May 10 interview with ACI Africa ahead of the consecration event, Fr. Mwania explained the delay in having the Parish church consecrated, saying, “There was always a feeling that (the church) was still under construction.”

“Now we feel the church is complete and it is ready to be dedicated because there is no major structural adjustment that is envisioned,” the Kenyan Spiritan Priest said, adding that the church building has been extended to include a seating area for nursing mothers and infants.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.