Kenyan Diocese Seeking Intercession of St. Joseph to Tame Rampant Gender-Based Violence

A procession marking the launch of the Year of St. Joseph in Kenya's Malindi Diocese.

The Catholic Diocese of Malindi in Kenya has embarked on a year-long celebration of St. Joseph with a special focus on seeking the intercession of the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary in addressing gender-based violence, which has been on the rise in various parts of the Diocese.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, February 24, the Pastoral Coordinator of Malindi Diocese, Fr. Peter Karanja, said that the goal of the initiative is to bring as many young men as possible closer to St. Joseph from whom they will learn about living virtuous lives.

“St. Joseph was a loving man who never raised his hand against the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sadly, in our society today, especially in Malindi, cases of violence in homes are very high. We hope that our Catholic men who aspire to get married can learn from this Saint in bringing up families that are filled with love,” Fr. Karanja said.

Malindi Diocese covers the prominently Muslim Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River Counties and has experienced high levels of gender-based violence. The violence, mostly meted against young women and girls, is said to have escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 60 percent of girls reported to have been abused.

Launched on February 21, the celebration of the Year of St. Joseph in the Kenyan Diocese aims to create awareness on the importance of having stable families of responsible parenthood that borrows from the life of St. Joseph, Fr. Karanja told ACI Africa.


“St Joseph was a very virtuous man. I however like to think of him in reference to his nature of responsibility, availability and hard work,” the Kenyan Cleric said.

As a responsible father who always provided for his family, St. Joseph provides a lesson for fathers who Fr. Karanja describes as “deadbeat”, those who are never concerned about the well-being of their children.

St. Joseph was also available to his family especially whenever he was needed the most, the Liturgy Coordinator of Malindi Diocese says, and invites fathers who are always absent in the lives of their families to seek the intercession of the Saint.

“Most men are not available in their families. Many run away whenever something challenging comes up. Others become drunkards and subject their families to a lot of suffering,” he said.

Various workshops and seminars have been scheduled at Diocesan and at the level of Parishes of the Diocese.

More in Africa

In particular, the episcopal ordination of Malindi’s Bishop-elect Wilybard Lagho, which has been slated for March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, is a special day for the Bishop-elect who has a deep devotion to the Saint, Fr. Karanja told ACI Africa February 24.

“The Bishop consulted with the pastoral office and decided that his (episcopal ordination) will coincide with the Solemnity of St. Joseph. It is important for him because we all know how deeply devoted he is to the Saint,” the Pastoral Coordinator of Malindi said.

The logo the Bishop-elect has designed has a message of the flight to Egypt that brings out the caring and loving nature of the foster father of Jesus, Fr. Karanja added.

To prepare for the episcopal ordination, the Catholic Diocese of Malindi will also embark on the Novena of St. Joseph from March 10 in addition to a Diocesan prayer of St. Joseph that has been formulated and circulated in the Parishes of the Diocese.

In the February 24 interview, Fr. Karanja told ACI Africa that the Diocese is also focusing on the Catholic Men Association (CMA) to increase the devotion of group members to St. Joseph. This, he said, will also ensure that the group becomes more vibrant.


The commissioning of the CMA members, which will be done after a three-day workshop on the theme of St. Joseph in the Diocese, has also been slated to take place in April.

The Diocese has developed various topics for reflection that promote St. Joseph as a model of families, including “a dear, gentle and humble father.”

St. Joseph is also being celebrated as a brave and creative father, an example of love for the Church and the poor as well as a father in the shadow, rooted in the love of Mary and Jesus.

While proclaiming the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis described the Saint as one who provides the example that “those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”