, 17 November, 2019 / 8:27 PM
Pope Francis has appointed Kenyan Bishop Dominic Kimengich who has been the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Lodwar diocese the new Bishop of Eldoret diocese in the Western region of the East African country.
The diocese of Eldoret fell vacant following the death of Bishop Cornelius Korir on October 30, 2017 and has been under the care of 73-year-old Bishop Maurice Crowley, the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Kitale diocese and member of St. Patrick’s Society for the Foreign Missions (S.P.S.).
According to a memo dated November 14 from the Nairobi-based Apostolic Nunciature, Bishop Kimengich’s appointment to shepherd the people of God in Eldoret was made public Saturday, November 16 at the Vatican at noon Rome time.
“I have the honor and pleasure to inform you that Pope Francis has appointed the Right Reverend Dominic Kimengich, presently Bishop of Lodwar, as Bishop of Eldoret,” reads in part the memo signed by the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Bert van Megen.
Speaking soon after the news of his appointment became public, Bishop Kimengich asked Christians to pray for him as he prepares to transfer his episcopal see to Eldoret, a diocese within the Ecclesiastical province of Kisumu Archdiocese.
"I request that you continue praying for me so that I get the strength to be a good shepherd to the Christians of Eldoret," 58-year-old Bishop Kimengich said Saturday, November 16.
Pope Francis’ transfer of Bishop Kimengich from Lodwar diocese to Eldoret continues the Catholic tradition that allows the Holy Father to appoint Prelates to other Ecclesial territories in form of transfers.
In the history of the Church, the 325 First Council of Nicaea (the birthtime of the Nicene Creed) and the 451 Council of Chalcedon (a meeting that clarified and defined the relationship between Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity) decreed as illegal Papal transfers of Bishops from one Ecclesiastical jurisdiction to another.
According to Canon 15 of Nicaea, “On account of the great disturbance and the factions which are caused, it is decreed that the custom, if it is found to exist in some parts contrary to the canon, shall be totally suppressed, so that neither bishops nor presbyters [priests] nor deacons shall transfer from city to city.”
The Canon continues, “If after this decision of this holy and great synod anyone shall attempt such a thing, or shall lend himself to such a proceeding, the arrangement shall be totally annulled, and he shall be restored to the church of which he was ordained bishop or presbyter or deacon."
Some 126 years after the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Chalcedon reconfirmed Nicaea’s teaching in its Canon 6, decreeing, “In the matter of bishops or clerics who move from city to city, it has been decided that the canons issued by the holy fathers concerning them should retain their proper force.”
Ordained priest of Kenya’s diocese of Nakuru in 1986, Kimengich was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Lodwar diocese in May 2010 and appointed Local Ordinary of the same diocese in March 2011, succeeding Bishop Patrick Joseph Harrington, a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA).
As the fourth Local Ordinary of Eldoret, Bishop Kimengich will be tasked with responsibility of shepherding the estimated 510,000 Catholics of the diocese of Eldoret, who make up 23.1 percent of the total population in the diocese as per 2016 statistics.
The diocese of Eldoret, which is under the patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was erected on June 29, 1953 as the Prefecture Apostolic of Eldoret, and elevated to the rank of a diocese on October 13, 1965.
The transfer of Bishop Kimengich from Lodwar to Eldoret maintains at six the number of Episcopal Sees without resident Bishops in Kenya, a country with 26 Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions comprising 20 dioceses, one Apostolic Vicariate and one Military Ordinariate spread across four Metropolitan Provinces (Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, and Kisumu).
Episcopal Sees in Kenya without Bishops include Bungoma, Kitui, Malindi, Homabay, the Military Ordinariate and since November 16, Lodwar diocese – in line with Canon 416 that stipulates how an Episcopal See becomes vacant, in this case, by the transfer of the Local Ordinary.
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