Kenyan Diocese Postpones Episcopal Ordination of New Bishop, Eyes 1,000 Attendees

Archbishop Anthony Muheria (right) and Bishop-elect Joseph Mwongela (left) in a video message for the postponed August 8 episcopal ordination.

The episcopal ordination of the recently appointed Bishop of Kenya’s Kitui Diocese has been postponed from August 8 following new regulations that limit Church gatherings to 100 participants with a hope that the event, expected to be celebrated on a much later date, will attract up to 1,000 people.

In a communique obtained by ACI Africa Thursday, July 30, Archbishop Anthony Muheria who is the Apostolic Administrator of Kitui announced that the ordination of Bishop Joseph Mwongela, which had been scheduled for August 8 had been pushed to August 29 following a spike in COVID-19 infections in the country.

“We have waited with great longing for the day of the consecration of our new Bishop, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mwongela that was set for 8th August 2020. We continue to pray for him and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to come upon him, as we prepare to receive the special graces as a diocese on this occasion,” Archbishop Muheria states in his July 30 letter addressed to “all Priests, Religious Men and Women, and all Christians in the Catholic Diocese of Kitui.

He adds in reference to the long-awaited celebration, “We have also seen that the situation of the spread of the COVID-19 unfortunately continues to rise. In view of the pronouncement of His Excellency the President, and of other considerations, it has become clear that we can only hold our celebrations as planned on the 8th of August, with a maximum of 100 people attending.”

Archbishop Muheria who is the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese says in the one-page letter that after consultations, the organizers of the Episcopal Ordination had reached an agreement to “delay the date of the consecration of the new bishop” with hope many people in the Diocese will be able to witness the solemn event.


“We would be more assured of an attendance of about 1,000 people as planned, following the social distancing arrangements,” Archbishop Muheria writes and adds, “We know that even 1,000 is a small number for such a big celebration, but we are asking you all to make this sacrifice because of the corona situation. We will plan as soon as it is possible to hold a bigger celebration for our bishop, as we usually do when circumstances allow.”

In the letter, the 57-year-old Archbishop who is heading Kenya’s Interfaith Council constituted by the Government of Kenya to guide the resumption of public worship in the East African nation calls upon parishes within the Diocese of Kitui to send a maximum of 25 representatives each so as not to exceed the projected 1,000-person congregation.

He further calls upon the people of God in the Diocese to inform others about the changes and to make adjustments to the new date.

“This change will certainly inconvenience many of you, and may be, make us feel a bit discouraged,” the Kenyan Archbishop says and adds, “However, we are living in very special times and we need to adjust constantly so as to make the best choices at every moment.”

He informs those who will not be physically present at the Episcopal consecration to follow the proceedings of the event on local media outlets including Catholic and secular radio and TV stations as well as social media platforms.

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Appointed in March 17, Bishop-elect Mwongela is expected to become the Local Ordinary of Kitui Diocese that has been vacant since April 2015 following the Papal transfer and elevation of Archbishop Muheria to Nyeri Archdiocese in Central Kenya.

In an interview with ACI Africa following his appointment, Bishop-elect Mwongela, 52, expressed his commitment to prioritize the fostering of the unity of the people of God under his pastoral care.

“I want to see a united people and all those involved in the ministry of evangelization being actively involved not as passive consumers but being actively involved in the ministry,” the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa March 17.

He added, “I would like to see the unity of the clergy, the religious, and also the lay people who have a great role to play in the building of the Church.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.