Newly Ordained Bishop in Kenya Urges “humble service” in Maiden Speech

Bishops lay hands on Bishop-elect Joseph Mwongela during Episcopal Ordination Mass Saturday, August 29, 2020.
Credit: ACI Africa

The newly ordained Bishop of Kenya’s Diocese of Kitui has, in his maiden speech, urged those overseeing various sectors in the East African nation to embrace humility in their line of duty.

“You are those chosen instruments to transform the world. Kindly earn greatness through humble service,” Bishop Joseph Mwongela said Saturday, August 29 after being ordained at St. Charles Lwanga School grounds in Kitui.

Bishop Mwongela added, “Our dignity and greatness do not depend on what we are or what we have amassed but who we are to the people we serve.”

“To the government leaders and leaders in other sectors, leadership is for service. May humility be your defining feature, wear it as a necklace,” Bishop Mwongela who was ordained as the fourth Bishop of Kenya’s Kitui Diocese further said.

The 52-year-old Kenyan Clergy of Kitui Diocese was serving as Vicar General of the same Diocese before his appointment on March 17. He succeeds Archbishop Anthony Muheria who was transferred to Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese in April 2015 and had been serving as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.

His Episcopal Ordination, which had initially been planned for August 8, had been postponed following new regulations that limited Church gatherings to 100 participants with a hope that the event, would attract up to 1,000 people.

In his maiden speech August 29, the new Bishop also promised to work with government and other religious leaders “not only for condemnation but through exaltation and collaboration to make Kitui great, to make Kenya great.”

During the event that was attended by a limited number of people as per the COVID-19 guidelines, the Bishop also promised to be “a loving and caring Bishop” to the people of God in Kitui Diocese.

“I shall strive to be a pastoral Bishop. We will walk together as we are called to walk together to Build this kingdom of God,” he said, reaching out to Priests, married couples and the youth with specific messages.

“I count on you as my closest collaborators in serving our people,” Bishop Mwongela told the Clergy of Kitui Diocese.

“Let us be friends as we serve and may selfishness never enslave us,” he further told the Clergy, adding, “May we constantly rediscover the value of priesthood and live it to the fullest in total service to God’s people.”

Turning to the youth, Bishop Mwongela encouraged them to take active roles in building the nation saying, “You are a blessing to the world. You are indeed the present of humanity. Take a role to build the nation.” 

“The Church needs you. I call upon you young ones to listen to Jesus who calls and the one who called the first disciples. Abandon everything and follow Jesus. Priests chose to abandon everything and follow Jesus. Join us to serve the Lord,” he said addressing himself to young people.

He encouraged couple to “love one another as Christ loves the Church (and) enjoy marriage and parenthood.”

The August 29 event was attended by, among others dignitaries, members of the Kenya Catholic Bishops Conference (KCCB), the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya, Archbishop Bert van Megen, the Governors of Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties, and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution who represented the country’s President. 

In his message, President Uhuru Kenyatta made known his commitment to working with “the Church even more closely to promote the continued partnership between the State and the Church in fostering and embedding national values and ethos in Kenya’s national consciousness and way of life.”

The Head of State also urged the Church leadership in Kenya to “never shy away from playing its rightful role as the conscience of the nation and the reservoir of sacred values, norms and ethics.”


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]