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“Give me Priests”, Kenyan Bishop Challenges Parishioners, Urges Vocation Promotion

Bishop Lagho with parishioners of Soroko Mission Stations in Witu Zone of St. Joseph Freinademetz Parish Witu-Kipini. Credit: Moses Mpuria

A Catholic Bishop in Kenya has challenged parishioners who asked him to assign more Priests to their Parish to instead facilitate the provision of members of the Clergy by promoting Priestly vocations in their respective families.

In a report shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, December 21, Bishop Willybard Kitogho Lagho who was addressing parishioners of St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini Parish of Malindi Diocese encouraged them to “grow the seed of faith planted by Mill Hill Missionaries” in the Kenyan Episcopal See. 

“Where do priests come from?” Bishop Lagho who was responding to the calls of the parishioners in the nine outstations of the Witu Zone for more Priests posed, and told the parishioners, “You should be giving me Priests instead of asking me for them.”

Bishop Willybard Lagho, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Malindi. Credit: Moses Mpuria

In the report authored by Moses Mpuria, the parishioners had expressed concern of losing Parish members to other denominations amid lack of Priests for regular Sunday Eucharistic celebrations. 

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“We are losing some of us to other faiths and denominations because, with only two Priests, Holy Masses are not celebrated in some outstations on Sundays,” parishioners of St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini Parish are quoted as telling Bishop Lagho.

They explained, “Some parishioners opt to go to other denominations where the Pastor is available every Sunday and is close to them throughout the week.”

Responding to the concerns of the parishioners, the Kenyan Bishop, the first native Local Ordinary to shepherd the people of God in the Coastal Diocese that covers Lamu, Tana River, and Kilifi Counties underscored the need to nurture local vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. 

Parishioners of Kakathe Mission Station in Witu Zone present their pastoral success stories and challenges to Bishop Willybard Lagho. Credit: Moses Mpuria

The faith of the missionaries can be maintained “by sustaining vocations through nurturing and encouraging calls to Priesthood and Religious Life”, Bishop Lagho during his second visit to St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini Parish this year.

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The Catholic Bishop who said he had received similar requests from other Parishes in his Episcopal See noted, “For a longtime our Diocese has been served by missionary priests and Religious brothers and sisters from without.”

“Even today, most of our parishes are run by missionaries because we only have 17 Diocesan Priests,” Bishop Lagho who has been at the helm of the Kenyan Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in March this year said. 

He continued, “When I say that we need to be self-sustaining as a Diocese, I mean doing so in all aspects including vocations. For there are not many missionaries available anymore to serve in our Parishes; the only way we can be assured of sufficient pastoral care is by having our Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters.”

Bishop Lagho arrives at ‘Vatican’ Mission Station in Witu Zone for a meeting with parishioners of the Outstation situated in SendeMke village of Lamu County. Credit: Moses Mpuria

The December 21 report that details events of the previous day indicate that St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini Parish is an “expansive Parish that spans two (Kenyan) Counties, borders Boni Forest and has 16 Mission Stations … served by two Missionary Priests.”

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Fr. Alex Kimbi MHM, Parish Priest of St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini. Credit: Moses Mpuria

The Parish is under the leadership of two members of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Fr. Alex Kimbi as Parish Priest and Fr. Ananth Nayak as his assistant, alongside three Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (Mill Hill Sisters) assisting in Education and HIV/AIDS rehabilitation programs, the report by Mr. Mpuria shared with ACI Africa indicates.