Keep Flame of Holy Spirit “alive, fan it, that it may shine brighter”: Nuncio to Newly Consecrated Bishop in Kenya

The representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has called upon the newly Consecrated Bishop in the East African nation to keep alive the flame of the Holy Spirit, have it fanned through a life of communion with God in prayer and remain close to the people of God during his Episcopal Ministry.

In his Saturday, May 25 homily during the Episcopal Ordination of Mons. John Kiplimo Lelei, who is to serve as the Auxiliary Bishop of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Eldoret, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen encouraged the newly Consecrated Bishop to care for the “afflicted, for the brokenhearted, for the captives, and for the prisoners.”

“It was only last week that we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost and today that Feast of Pentecost repeats itself in Eldoret, as the Holy Spirit is coming down on you, John,” Archbishop van Megen said.

He outlined what is expected of the 65-year-old Kenyan Catholic Church leader, who was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for Eldoret Diocese on March 27, saying, “As Paul says, you are called to keep the flame alive in your life, to fan it, to blow in it through prayer and good works, that it may shine ever brighter in your life.”

“You should be that light on the lampstand for all to see, that all may rejoice in your light,” Archbishop van Megen told the Bishop-elect he was about to Consecrate, and added, “Being a Bishop is demanding. It is surely a privilege, but it is also a challenge; it's about hardship.”


“Dear John, you receive the Holy Spirit so as to be able to remain with Christ under difficult circumstances,” the Dutch-born Vatican diplomat said during the May 25 Consecration event at the Mother of Apostles Seminary Grounds in Eldoret.

He continued, “Many times people say that the Holy Spirit is moving us from place to place, from here to there. But in many ways, the contrary is the case. The Holy Spirit is giving us the patient ability to remain in the same place, in the same position, in the same responsibility, even when things are getting difficult and burdensome.”

The Vatican diplomat called upon the Bishop-elect to draw inspiration from the life of Jesus Christ, who he said did not give up his responsibility in spite of challenges.

“The life of Christ is witness to that. Christ did not change his plan or move away when things were turned awry. He maintained his position and was crucified for it,” he said, and added, “Any Bishop, any Christian for that matter, will sooner or later have to face the same choices in his life: Does he want to remain in his comfort zone, egoistically looking for what suits him best?  Or is he ready to take up his cross and follow Christ.”

“Our society finds it hard to accept the teachings of the Church, the teachings of Christ, because the teachings of the Church go against the teachings of this world,” the Apostolic Nuncio noted and encouraged Mons. Lelei to guard the “rich teachings of our faith.”

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He continued, “Our society many times feels that the ideals that Christ is teaching (are) unattainable for normal human beings and should therefore be rejected. Because (they limit) people in their freedom and keep them chained to expectations; they will never be able to achieve.”

“Dear John, you will be criticized in many ways, and people at times will try to destroy you for the simple reason that you are upholding the teachings of Christ. To our modern society, the teachings of the church are a scandal, a stumbling block,” Archbishop van Megen said.

He went on to caution the Bishop-elect against fear and despair, saying, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and of love and of self-control. John, being a Bishop is not about lording it over them, but it is about acting in the spirit of power and love and self-control.”

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya since March 2019 called upon the member of the Clergy of Eldoret Diocese to live a life of service, close to the people of God during his Episcopal Ministry.

“Being a Bishop, you are called to be close to your people, like a shepherd with his sheep; you are called to walk with them, stay with them, feed them,” he said, adding, “Only then you will be able to understand truly the nature of the affliction of your people.”


Dear John, Archbishop van Megen continued, “you are called to show special care for the single mother, to accompany with patience the drunkard, to remain close to the divorced, to have a listening ear for the Priests in crisis, to counsel with prudence the addicted, to guide with meekness those lost in immorality.”

“Remember, Christ did not come for the healthy, but for the sick,” the Apostolic Nuncio emphasized.

The Nairobi-based Vatican diplomat, who has also been representing the Holy Father in South Sudan challenged the new Auxiliary Bishop to be prophetic by being “severe with the corrupt” and “unforgiving with those who trample the rights of the poor and the oppressed.”

“Call out the unjust, judge and be unrelenting in your fight against social injustice, where the rich steal from the poor through corruption and embezzlement,” he said, adding, “You are called to be that good shepherd, kind and caring with his sheep, but harsh and forceful with the wounds. Be as the Virgin Mary shouted it out, he has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.”

Archbishop van Megen invited Mons. Lelei to draw inspiration from his personal history of good and not-so-good tendencies and his own “need for mercy”.

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“Dear John, in dealing with this sheep that will be committed to you, think of your own history, the history of holiness, but also a history of temptation. Keep in mind your own need for mercy and recall how Christ has been merciful with you through all these years of your life,” he said.

The Apostolic Nuncio continued, “Recall your own sinfulness so as to be merciful with the sheep who run away from the flock. Bind their wounds, carry them on your shoulders; learn from Christ who said, learn from me. I am meek and humble of heart.”

“May you then be pleasing to God by your gentleness, by your purity of heart, presenting a fragrant offer to the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Archbishop van Megen implored during the Episcopal Consecration of Mons. Lelei.

As Auxiliary Bishop in Eldoret Diocese, Mons. Lelei is to assist Bishop Dominic Kimengich, who has been at the helm of the Kenyan Episcopal See since February 2020.

Born in August 1958 in the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret, the Bishop-elect was ordained a Priest for the same Diocese in October 1985 after completing his philosophical and theological studies from St. Augustine's Mabanga Senior Seminary in Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese, and St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Nairobi Archdiocese, respectively.

At the time of his Episcopal appointment, the newly Consecrated Bishop was serving as the Vicar General of Eldoret Diocese.

In his speech during the May 25 event, the President of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said the Consecration of the new Auxiliary Bishop is “a sign of the love of God; it is an expression of our hope; it is an expression of our faith in God and the continued manifestation of God's love toward us.”

“In a special way, I would like to welcome you on behalf of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops to the body of the Conference of Bishops. We welcome you as our brother,” Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu said.

Archbishop Muhatia invited the new Auxiliary Bishop to join other Catholic Bishops in Kenya “in expressing our love and propagating that love of God in our communities.”

“Come and join us in mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice. Come and join us in building our country and in a special way come and join us in fighting the evil of corruption in our country,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said.

He continued, “We commit ourselves to do everything that is in our power to make sure that the love of God spreads in our country, that our people live in hope, in spite of the challenges we face as a country.”

Erected in June 1953 as the Prefecture Apostolic of Eldoret, the 9,254 square-kilometer Episcopal See was elevated to a Diocese in October 1959.

The Kenyan Diocese, which is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kisumu has a population of 892,000 Catholics representing 35.8 percent of the total population in the Episcopal See, according to 2021 statistics.

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.