, 30 October, 2020 / 9:08 PM
The late Bishop Ambrogio Ravasi who served as the second Bishop of Kenya’s Marsabit Diocese until his retirement in November 2006 is being remembered as a “devout shepherd” and “a man of impeccable character and heroic virtues.”
The Italian-born member of the Consolata Missionaries died Friday, October 30 in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi of heart related complications. He was 91.
“It is with humble acceptance to God’s will that we announce the passing on of Rt. Rev. Ambrogio Ravasi, the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Marsabit which occurred this morning at MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi,” the Bishops in Kenya announced in their October 30 statement.
The members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) add, “Let us pray for the repose of the soul of the late Bishop Ravasi and keep his family, relatives and friends in prayers.”
“Bishop Ravasi has been ailing for some time,” the Bishops say in their statement signed by the General Secretary of KCCB, Fr. Daniel Kimutai Rono.
The Bishop had undergone a heart surgery. His “situation worsened” on October 29, the Vice Regional Superior of the Consolata Missionaries (IMC) in Kenya and Uganda, Fr. Zachary Kariuki, has been quoted as saying.
Fr. Zachary has explained, “The Bishop fell down and broke his hip joint. He was rushed to hospital for operation but could not be operated on because he had a heart complication which was dealt with that time.”
“Doctors had given him one month to recover from the heart operation before undertaking the operation of the hip joint,” the Consolata Missionary Cleric has further said.
It was during this period that his health condition got worse and he “had to be taken back to the hospital for further observation,” Fr. Zachary has said, adding that Bishop Ravasi’s time of death was around 6:15 a.m. on Friday October 30.
“It is a big loss for Consolata Missionaries because he is a person who had dedicated his life to the charism of our founder. We are saddened by his death but also thank God for the time he has given Ravasi to us, and for the wonderful work he has done for all those years and for being a good missionary,” Fr Zachary has said.
Born in February 1929, Bishop Ravasi who hailed from Italy’s Archdiocese of Milan was ordained a Priest in 1957.
Prior to his episcopal Ordination in June 1981, he served in various capacities including, Professor and Chaplain at the Kenya-based St. Lawrence Egoji Teachers' College, the IMC Regional Vice Superior and Seminary Director in Nairobi and the Capitular of IMC in Rome.
Members of the Clergy, Religious, Laity and representatives of Church organizations in Kenya have paid glowing tribute to the late Bishop.
To the leadership of Kenya’s Diocese of Maralal, Bishop Ravasi was a “God fearing, humble, peace loving and devout shepherd; a man of impeccable character and heroic virtues who exhibited a cheerful charisma and a strong personality even in sickness and old age.”
In the Friday, October 30 statement seen by ACI Africa, the leadership of Maralal Diocese, which was erected from the Diocese of Marsabit in 2001 recalled “with appreciation Bishop Ravasi’s total and selfless dedication to the Gospel and cause for evangelization in the Dioceses of Marsabit and Maralal (and indeed the entire Church).”
“It is our prayer that his devoted ministry, example, teachings and way of life will inspire the church with a missionary spirit and the deep desire to make Christ known and loved by all,” they eulogized.
Fr. Joseph Gitonga, the Rector of the Marsabit-based Maria Mfariji Shrine where Bishop Ravasi stayed after his retirement, remembered his confrere as a “joyful, cheerful and highly prayerful” person.
“He was a great missionary and a great spiritual father. In him I saw not only a Bishop, but a real brother who would come to the aid of all,” Fr. Joseph told ACI Africa in an interview Friday, October 30.
The Kenyan Cleric described the late Bishop as “a man of the Rosary who was the most devout in the community, always ready to lead us during prayers and in the Rosary.”
He remembered Bishop Ravasi’s humility saying, “Imagine one who was once a Superior, a Rector and one who was a Bishop for 26 years to retire and remain in Marsabit in a Marian Shrine. He accepted me to become his boss as the Rector of the Shrine and he was assisting me.”
“He always told us, Life is hard, but we should persevere to the end,” Fr. Joseph recalled and added in reference to the late Bishop Ravasi, “He has persevered to the end. May he Rest in Peace.”
In another eulogy, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Marsabit, Fr. Racho Ibrahim said, “We have lost a great Missionary and a man of Great Faith.”
He called for continued prayers for “the repose of the soul of our beloved Bishop Ambrogio Ravasi.”
“The date of the Burial will be communicated in due time as consultation is underway,” Fr. Racho has said, indicating that burial will take place at the Maria Mfariji Shrine in Marsabit.
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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