Catholic Bishop in Kenya Decries Increasing Reading Apathy, Urges Pauline Sisters to Help “sustain culture of reading”

Bishop Joseph Mwongela of Kenya's Kitui Diocese poses for a photo with Pauline Sisters on Friday, 5 April 2024 after perpetual profession of their three members. Credit: ACI Africa.

There is increasing apathy towards the reading habit among the people of God in Kenya, Bishop Joseph Maluki Mwongela of the East African nation’s Catholic Diocese of Kitui has observed with concern. 

In his homily during the perpetual profession of three members of the Pious Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (FSP), popularly known as Pauline Sisters or Daughters of St. Paul, Bishop Mwongela challenged members of the Italian-founded Society to help revive the habit of reading. 

“We are losing the idea of reading culture. I want to challenge you the Paulines and the rest, bring some creativity, bring some novelty in the work that you do,” the Kenyan Catholic Bishop said during the Religious Profession at the Daughters of St. Paul premises in Westlands, the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, on Friday, April 5.

Credit: ACI Africa

“Pauline Sisters, you must look for ways of encouraging us and making us sustain the culture of reading and even the culture of listening,” he emphasized.


Blessed James Alberione founded FSP members in Italy in 1915 with the mission “to be at the service of evangelisation through the means of social communications”, and to do “the charity of the truth”.

FSP members embrace the charism of “living Christ and communicating Him to the world in the field of social communication in the spirit of St. Paul and in the atmosphere of Mary, Queen of Apostles”

Credit: ACI Africa

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the April 5 celebration, the Directress of Paulines Publications Africa (PPA), Sr. Praxides Nafula said, weighed in on Bishop Mwongela’s challenge.

The Daughters of St. Paul in Africa have noted the fact of reading apathy, especially among youths, and this has been our concern as well, Sr. Praxides said, and went on to highlight what FSP members are already doing to address the challenge. 

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“We are going into the social media because we are targeting the young people,” she said, adding that it is among youths that “the culture of reading is dying.”

Credit: ACI Africa

Daughters of St. Paul have decided to embrace the “online space”, Sr. Praxides said, and acknowledging the efforts members of the Rome-headquartered international Society are recording, added, “We are making some steps towards embracing it fully.”

“We call the online space our sixth continent because that is where the people live nowadays,” the Nairobi-based PPA Directress told ACI Africa.

She shared about the 2015 initiative to “open our online reader where we converted so many other books into e-books.”


However, the Kenyan-born FSP member noted, e-books are yet to be embraced in Africa in general and Kenya in particular. She said that a great majority of customers purchasing Paulines publications products from Amazon are not based in Africa.

Credit: ACI Africa

Besides the e-books initiative, she shared, “We normally put our content into talks or short video clips.” The content in the video and audio podcasts is uploaded on social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, X, and especially TikTok, which she noted “has many followers” in Kenya and in Africa.

“We are moving with the signs of the time but at our pace according to our context. We are looking forward to dramatizing some of the books we have; this is something we feel we can try, especially with the young people,” Sr. Praxides told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Final Professions of three FSP members: Sr. Catherine Wanza Mutua, Sr. Eunice Kasyoka Muthui, and Sr. Jentrix Nasirumbi Barasa.

In her address during the April 5 celebration, the Provincial Superior of FSP members serving in Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe acknowledged Bishop Mwongela’s call for initiatives to foster the reading culture.

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“We appreciate the challenge that you have posed to us, to be creative in our mission to be able to look at the signs of the time and move with the signs of the time,” Sr. Rosemary Mueni Mwaiwa said.


Credit: ACI Africa

Sr. Mwaiwa also thanked the three FSP members who made their Final Profession in the Society, and urged them to bring forth “fruits of commitment, love and sacrifice for the growth of the (FSP) Province.”

The Kenyan-born Provincial Superior read out the message of the Rome-based FSP Superior General, Sr. Anna Caiazza, who encouraged the newly Finally Professed Kenyan Sisters to embrace the virtue of love in their Religious Life in the Society.

“The Lord asks only for your love in return, unconditional. And, in response to this love, He will give you wisdom, faithfulness, perseverance, ‘new’ life following in the footsteps of Jesus,” Sr. Caiazza said.

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