Following Torching of Altar, Ambo of Kenyan Church, Cleric Calls Arsonists to Repentance

The altar and ambo in St. Monica Catholic Church of Kenya's Kisii Diocese torched on the night of 19 January 2021.
Credit: Fr. Arnold Maronga, Kisii Diocese, Kenya.

A Catholic Church in Kenya's Kisii Diocese was recently torched by some unknown individuals, a night incident that seems to have targeted the altar and pulpit, the Communications Director of the Diocese has told ACI Africa in an interview, calling upon those behind the arson attack to regret their evil act and “ask God for forgiveness.”

In the Friday, January 22 interview, Fr. Arnold Maronga confirmed that the yet-to-be identified arsonists broke into St. Monica Catholic Church in Otamba village, an outstation of St. Charles Lwanga Cathedral of Kisii Diocese, and razed down the Altar, pulpit, and vestments.

“It was on the night of 19th January when some young boys coming from watching football saw some smoke coming from the Church. They alerted their parents who then called one of the Church leaders. Upon entering the Church, they found that it was full of smoke,” Fr. Maronga recounted.

He continued, “The Parish Priest who lives around 5 kilometres from the Church was informed about the incident by the Church leader and he had to go there.”

Describing the damage caused by the fire, the Clergy of Kisii Diocese said, “The linen covering the Altar was completely burnt. The arsonists also took other vestments from the sacristy and placed them on the ambo before burning them.”

“We have notified the police officers and they are conducting investigations,” the Kenyan-born Cleric told ACI Africa January 22. 

According to Fr. Maronga, the arson attack is likely a result of “some type of radicalization that is going on in the area as churches of different denominations have also been burned.” 

The World Wide Church and offices belonging to the Seventh Adventist Church were razed down Wednesday, January 20.

In the January 22 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Maronga described the attack on churches as “anti-Christian” and called on those responsible for the crimes to repentance. 

“The best thing for those who burned the churches is to ask God for forgiveness and never again should they repeat such an act,” he said and added, “If possible, they should go to the church and confess to being the evil-doers.”

Addressing himself to the followers of Christ in Otamba village, the Kenyan Cleric said, “As Christians, we should pray for the people conducting the crimes. Without prayer, we are going nowhere.”

Fr. Maronga further called on the people of God in the affected village to respect all places of worship saying, “Every individual, no matter the religion, should understand that these holy places are to be respected.” 

He also told ACI Africa that the leadership of St. Monica’s Catholic Church is organizing for a Mass to “cleanse the church.”

To find solutions to the attacks and prevent such incidents from happening in the future, the local chief and security agents are expected to hold a meeting with the religious leaders and the entire community of Otamba on January 26, Fr. Maronga told ACI Africa January 22.

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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
[email protected]