Late Missionary, Scholar in Kenya Leaves Lasting Legacy in New Book on Freedom, Trinity

The Book titled "Freedom and Trinity" by Italian-born Fr. Nicholas Fogliacco.
Credit: Paulines Publications Africa.

Before he died in May last year aged 81, Italian-born Fr. Nicholas Fogliacco had accumulated enough content that would be put together to make one of the most treasured books that seeks to promote the mission of evangelization in Africa.

During the launch of his new book over the weekend (October 17) during the online seminar on “Popular Mission” spearhead by the Daughters of St Paul in Nairobi, Fr. Fogliacco was honored posthumously as a true man of God who was “reflective in his thoughts and quite precise in his expressions” and whose memory still reigns in the teachings contained in his new book.

The new book, “Freedom and Trinity: Pastoral Perspectives in Today’s World” provides a simplified relationship between freedom and the Holy Trinity.

Fr. Bernard Dennis Ofwono, a Consolata Missionary from Uganda who made the presentation of the book at the launch said the new book finds its relevance “in underlining the fact of the freedom of the human person.”

“The first thing the book puts clear is that freedom is paramount in any human decision or action,” Fr. Dennis said, and explained, “When we are conscious of our freedom, we make decisions. We make choices in a conscious way. If you are not even aware of how free you are then you instead do what we call running away from that which harms you.”

The Nairobi-based lecturer who teaches at Consolata Philosophical Seminary expressed his appreciation of the book in which he said the author, the late Fr. Fogliacco raises the “fundamental question in the logical consequence of Mission, Evangelization and Pastoral vis-a-vis the Church.”

He said that the book is handy in the pastoral and evangelizing role of the Church amid issues that affect the world today.

“We are in the month of October, a month we all know is dedicated to the mission pastorally speaking and in accordance with the tradition of the church. This year, we find ourselves situated in a world ravaged by a reality that has impacted and continues to challenge the world society in many ways,” said Fr. Dennis.

According to the Director of the ICT department of the Kenya-Uganda Province of the Consolata Missionaries, the reality of COVID-19 presents a number of challenges for the Church from a pastoral viewpoint of the church’s mission.

“Circumstances of illness, sufferings, fears, joblessness and isolation are evidently pastoral challenges to be addressed,” he said.

The Cleric added, “The poverty of those who die alone, the consequent abandonment, those who have lost their jobs and income or sustenance possibilities, the homelessness and the lack of food; having to observe social distancing and staying more at home are clear challenges from a pastoral viewpoint.”

These, he said, are the challenges that point to the need to rediscover the values that enshrine social relationships as well as people’s interactivity with God through the other.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Praxides Nafula, the Director of Paulines Publications Africa where the new book, “Freedom and Trinity'' was published reminisced about the author, Fr. Fogliacco.

Fr. Fogliacco was not so much into writing for publication when he came to Kenya and immersed himself in teaching for decades, Sr. Praxides noted about the Italian-born Consolata Missionary Cleric and scholar who was first commissioned to Kenya to teach in 1970 and is “remembered fondly for his contribution towards the formation of the clergy.”

In 2004, Fr. Fogliacco who also taught philosophy at the Nairobi-based Institute of Philosophy, Consolata Seminary, authored the book titled, “The God of all consolation: A theology of salvation and mission as divine comfort.” Published by Paulines Publications Africa, the title of the book was inspired by the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians (2 Cor 1:3).

Towards the end of his years, Sr. Praxides told ACI Africa, Fr. Fogliacco “decided to come up with a book, ‘Freedom and Trinity.’ And for me, I see it as a legacy because now we don't have him but his memory still reigns in his teaching; his professionalism still remains in the hearts of people and especially those who have experienced him.”

“I think even when he was sick at the last minute, he was still putting down the points. But unfortunately, he died even before he presented the book for publication,” the Paulines Publications Africa Director further said in reference to the Cleric who, until his death on 19 May 2019, was lecturing at the Nairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC), a Catholic institution of higher learning that is jointly owned by 22 Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life.

She narrated that it was a different Priest who put together all the material that Fr. Fogliacco had been collecting and arranged them into the three chapters that make up the book.

Initially, the book was “professional and academic” and needed someone to simplify it for an average reader, Sr. Praxides told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the webinar session October 17, adding that one of the Cleric’s former students at TUC was brought on board for the function.

Fr. George Kocholickal, a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), breaking down Fr. Fogliacco’s message in the book’s introduction and epilogue in a way that helps readers relate with the Trinity in their everyday life.

Recalling his personal encounter with the late Missionary Cleric and scholar, Fr. George says, “He was very reflective in his thoughts and quite precise in his expressions. This little gem of a book entitled Freedom and Trinity, is fewer than 100 pages, but is a witness to that.”

Still making reference to Fr. Fogliacco, the Indian-born SDB Cleric who co-founded the Kenya-based Philothea Missionary Society further says in the new book, “Written by him, but being published posthumously, it is a lasting testament to a person who was all through his life exchanged by the human person in his conscious existence in his freedom, seeing in his existential existence reflections of the very mystery of the Tri-personal God.”

And in the foreword he wrote for the book, Fr. Fogliacco’s former student attempts to explain the author’s meaning of the word “Freedom” and goes ahead to relate it with the Trinity.

“Though ‘freedom’ is something everyone talks about, few people think about it,” Fr. George says, and in the words of Fr. Fogliacco, he adds, “Just like the word love, so no other word is more used and misused than the word freedom. Just as there is true love and false love, so there is true freedom and false freedom.”

Fr. George reiterates the late Cleric’s assertion that only the freedom that promotes personal and communal growth is true freedom and that “all other forms of freedom are disguised forms of enslavement.”

“The author, in a creative way, brings the topic of freedom to the reflection on the economic Trinity, specifically to the two mysteries of Christian faith, namely incarnation and the Baptism of Jesus, and the manifestations of the Trinity in these events,” Fr. George says.

The SDB member observes that by pointing out the role of the Holy Spirit in the mystery of Incarnation and that of Baptism, the author of the new book is highlighting the role of the Holy Spirit in authentic human existence.

“The Holy Spirit works with our existential freedom, making us capable of an authentic Christian existence,” he explains.

Made up of three chapters in 100 pages, the book that was published in June has made a great impact, according to Sr. Praxides who says it is selling off quickly from physical book shelves.

“It is like everyone who interacted with Fr. Fogliacco already has a copy of the book and we saw the need to make it a soft copy resource to reach everyone,” says the member of the Daughters of Saint Paul, a native of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Bungoma.

She says that the book, which is now available on Amazon and costs KSh. 800 (US$8) has come at a proper time “when freedom is being challenged in our modern day to day life.”


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