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Emulate St. Joseph, Be Good Teachers to Your Children, Nuncio in Kenya tells Fathers

Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya Bert van Megen with a section of Spiritan Priests after the commissioning of Blessed Daniel Brottier Conference Hall and Accommodation facility 15 January 2021

As the Catholic Church all over the world continues to observe the Year of St. Joseph, which Pope Francis declared on 8 December 2020, the representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has called upon male parents in the East African country to emulate the father of Jesus and to be good examples to their children.

Speaking on the sidelines of the second Provincial Chapter of the Spiritans in Kenya January 14 in Nakuru Diocese, Archbishop Bert van Megen noted that St. Joseph was a father who took good care of Jesus even before the world knew about him as the Christ.

“Jesus was, for 30 years, in hidden life. We knew about him for only about three and half years but for the other 30 years, we hardly knew anything about him and that was the time that Joseph and Mary took care of their child, where Joseph taught his child to work and how to be a carpenter,” Archbishop van Megen said.

He added, “An advice to fathers, stay with your children. Stay with your sons also and especially teach them how to work and how to dedicate themselves completely to work.”

Marking 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church on the last Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis proclaimed the “Year of Saint Joseph” from 8 December 2020 to 8 December this year.

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The Holy Father called upon Catholics across the globe to celebrate “a man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

In the Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

Archbishop van Megen went on to highlight the qualities of St Joseph as a father, the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a perfect man who always “wanted to do his work well.”

“Joseph wanted to do his work well. He worked to perfection,” the Dutch Archbishop who also represents the Holy Father in South Sudan said, and added, “We see the same thing in Jesus himself, how he wanted to do things to perfection. When you do things well, you also find peace and satisfaction in that.”

St. Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary who took care of her and respected her, the Apostolic Nuncio said, and explained the need for husbands to respect their wives.

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“Paul also speaks about the same thing (respect),” Archbishop van Megen said, and continued, “St. Paul says that the husband should take care of his wife as his own body. You do not deny your own body; you should also not deny care to your wife. That is something that St. Joseph has surely done and what we can all learn from.”

Describing St. Joseph as a righteous man in reference to the Gospel according to St. Luke, the Dutch Prelate urged male parents to always seek to do good as good examples to their children.

He said, “Righteous man in this Jewish context means that he was the man who would live the law of Moses to the full into the smallest details. And he transmitted his firm belief to Jesus. Jesus lived his faith through his parents. We learn from St. Joseph how we can live our faith sometimes very privately but very committedly.”  

Meanwhile, the Vatican Diplomat has called upon the people of God in Kenyan to be cautious amid heightening political discourse and activities ahead of national elections slated for next year and to only select good leaders.

“Do not vote along tribal lines,” he said, and cautioned, “Do not vote because you got money. Vote for the person you feel represents certain values, which you can identify as Christian. All the rest is a lost vote.”

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The Archbishop has also called upon Catholics to support the Church activities post COVID-19 lockdown.

“COVID-19 has been here for nearly a year now and it has been very difficult for us as Christians,” the Nuncio said.

He added, “Hopefully, we are entering into a better period but I would say to Catholics, pick up your practice of going to Church, of receiving the Sacraments, the Eucharist, Confession, try to live again your life in a community.”

“It is also important to support your Church financially because these past months, for many Churches in Kenya also including the Catholic Church, have been very hurt financially,” Archbishop van Megen said.

He further said that owing to the fact that people could not go to Church, there was no financial contribution and that many Dioceses were suffering financially.

He said, “Many Dioceses are very close to bankruptcy because the Church needs money in order to run,” the representative of the Holy Father in Kenya said and appealed to Catholics to go back to church while adhering to all necessary COVID-19 precautionary measures.

“Be careful even at home. But again, it is important that we come back to the Eucharist, that we hear the Word of God again, that we live the Word of God again, that we receive the Eucharist, which is the heart of our Church,” the Apostolic Nuncio said January 15.  

He asserted, “If you do not live the Eucharist, you lose the heart of the Church.”