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Emulate St. Joseph in your Episcopal Ministry, Nuncio in Kenya tells Newly Ordained Bishop

The newly ordained Bishop of Kenya’s Malindi Diocese, Wilybard Lagho

The representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has told the newly ordained Bishop of Kenya’s Malindi Diocese to emulate St. Joseph in his episcopal ministry.

Addressing himself to Bishop-elect Wilybard Lagho during the Friday, March 19 episcopal ordination event, Archbishop Bert van Megen urged closeness to God in the example of the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Dear Wilybard, be like Joseph. Don’t fall on your own religious reflexes. Don’t follow the traditions blindly but discern. Stay close to God, follow the whispering of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop van Megen said during the episcopal event that took place at St. Anthony’s Cathedral of Kenya’s Malindi Diocese.

He highlighted some of the qualities of the Patron Saint of the Universal Church that can inspire the episcopal ministry of new Bishop saying, “St Joseph was a righteous man. When he knew that Mary was pregnant, he left in silence so as to avoid a scandal.”

While St. Joseph’s plan to divorce Mary was in accordance with the Law of Moses and traditions, he changed his mind and accepted Mary as his wife when the angel appeared to him in a dream, the Nuncio said, underscoring St. Joseph’s obedience to the word of God.  

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“Being the good shepherd means that sometime you will go to places you’d rather not, like St. Joseph, who had to take his family and flee into Egypt,” the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who doubles as the representative of the Holy Father in South Sudan told the Bishop-elect.

He further told the Kenyan Cleric he was about to ordain a Bishop, “You will receive the pastoral staff as a sign of your episcopacy. May it always be a staff of the good shepherd. May it never be a staff to oppress with, but to lead with. May it never be a staff to disperse, but to gather with.”

Archbishop van Megen asked the Bishop-elect to “be a rock on which Christ can build his Church, so as to be led by Christ in those places you’d rather not go.”

Making reference to the episcopal ring, which is a sign of a Bishop’s relationship with his Diocese, the Nuncio told the Bishop-elect, “Like in marriage, you will have to take care of your bride. Cherish, love and sacrifice for her.” 

“Just as Joseph protected his bride, the virgin Mary, holy and blameless, you do the same for the Church of Malindi,” he added. 

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The Nuncio continued, “The Bishop is the bridge builder between God and his people by bringing sacrifices to the Lord, by celebrating the Eucharist.”

“St. Joseph is that man who placed himself in that service of the entire plan of salvation as he offered his home to Mary and his son. Also, the Bishop takes care of his family,” he told the Bishop-elect.

Making reference to the Apostolic Letter titled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) in which Pope Francis declared the Year of St. Joseph, describing the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the protector of the Church, the Apostolic Nuncio urged the Bishop-elect to love, protect and cherish the Church. 

“Wilybard, may you intercede for the Church and never grow weary of caring for the people in the Diocese of Malindi,” the 59-year-old Dutch-born Vatican diplomat said.

“Be a protector to the Church in Malindi just as St. Joseph is a protector and be a good counsellor to the people of Malindi,” the Nuncio said, and added that a Bishop should be “a father to your people as St. Joseph is to the Church.” 

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The newly ordained Bishop of Malindi Diocese who will turn 63 on March 23 is a member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Mombasa Archdiocese, where he was serving as Vicar General when Pope Francis appointed him Bishop last December.

He has succeeded Bishop Emmanuel Barbara who passed on in January 2018. 

In his maiden speech, Bishop Lagho called on the people of God in his Diocese and in Kenya to embrace each other’s differences and work for the good of the nation. 

“For all leaders and citizens, let us stop the idea of ​​dividing people with our own views against them. That idea fosters hatred and divisions rather than uniting people,” Bishop Lagho said shortly after his episcopal ordination. 

He added, “Let us learn to respect each other, recognize and cherish the beauty of all people, even non-religious people like us or those with different political affiliations with us.”

The newly ordained Bishop pledged to commit himself “to building unity among the people living and receiving their services in the Diocese of Malindi.”

Making reference to his episcopal motto, “happy are the mediators,” Bishop Lagho promised to work with the people of God in Malindi to “build peace and spread the Gospel.”