In his homily, Abbot Pambo from Tanzania explained that though an Abbot puts on insignia's similar to a Bishop, Abbots are not Bishops.
“Bishops are appointed by the Holy Father; an Abbot is elected by the monks in an Abbey,” the Abbot said, and explained, “The election is of course ratified by the competent ecclesial authority. Bishops are consecrated or ordained Bishops; abbots are blessed.”
While the jurisdiction of a Bishop covers the entire portion of the People of God entrusted to him, the Abbot has jurisdiction over his Monks and is also to take special care of those who come to the Monastery, Abbot Pambo explained.
He went on to explain the symbolism of the insignia that was to be presented to the new Abbot saying, “The Pectoral Cross which abbots and Bishops wear on their chest is a reminder of the heavy burdens entrusted to them. The Ring is a symbol of fidelity to the mission, the Mitre a symbol of the dignity of the office and Staff with a crooked head a symbol of authority to protect and bring back the flock.”
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Quoting the rule of St. Benedict, Abbot Pambo reminded the new Abbot that the souls of the Religious have been entrusted to him.
“Remember that you are a shepherd of a flock that is not yours,” Abbot Pambo cautioned the newly blessed Abbot, and added, “May God fill you with prophetic strength and the zeal to think sharply, to speak eloquently and to act in wisdom to be able to lead the flock that you have been handed.”
The new Abbot was further reminded that leadership, which he was about to take upon himself was “not easy.”
“Leadership is not easy. It is a heavy burden. It is compared to the cross to remind him (Fr. John Baptist) just from the beginning that whatever journey he is embarking on isn’t easy,” the Tanzanian Abbot said.
He added, “The Abbot needs prophetic courage because if he isn’t courageous, he will mislead the flock. He will mislead the Abbey and the Monks. He needs to act in reason and courage drawing from the wisdom from God.”
And turning on the Congregants at the blessing ceremony, Abbot Pambo said, “We pray for our father, Abbot John Baptist to always say the words that proceed from God…so that God may speak through him when he talks to the Monks and to the people of God.”
Prior to his election as Abbot, Fr. John Baptist who hails from Kenya’s Diocese of Bungoma served as Prior of the Tigoni. He had also ministered at St. Benedict's Parish Ruaraka of Nairobi Archdiocese as Parish Priest.
The 42-year-old who is passionate about liturgical music also has a long experience in formation and has been Novice master of the Monks in Tigoni for many years.
He is the brains behind the popular Jina Maria (the name Mary), which is sung at the end of Holy Mass across Kenya.
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.