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Align Small Christian Community Programs to the Word of God: Catholic Nun in Kenya

Sr. Millicent Omondi during the 'Around the Table show' on Capuchin TV in prelude to the Sunday of the Word of God. Credit: Sr. Olga Massango

Programs of Small Christian Communities (SCC) and other Bible study groups in the Church can be amended to give more focus on the word of God, a member of the Pious Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) in Kenya has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Millicent Omondi who serves as the Editor of the Nairobi-based Paulines Publications Africa said that there is an urgent need for those trained in scripture as biblical scholars to serve at SCC level and not just be confined to institutions of higher learning.

“Small Christian Communities can be channels where the word of God is studied and meditated. In my opinion, the programs of these Christian Communities need to be more elaborate to give more precedence to the word of God,” Sr. Omondi said in the Wednesday, January 19 interview.

She told ACI Africa that the church should also think of the lay people when it comes to spreading the word of God.

Sr. Omondi said that the task of studying the Bible systematically is not the preserve of the Priests and Sisters; the faithful also have the responsibility of studying the scriptures for their spiritual nourishment.

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The Kenyan-born FSP member spoke to ACI Africa ahead of the January 23 celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God and Around the Table show on Thursday, January 20 on Capuchin TV where she would be a guest speaker.

Credit: Sr. Olga Massango

On 30 September 2019, the feast day of St. Jerome, Pope Francis announced that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time would be celebrated as the Sunday of the Word of God, a day dedicated to the celebration, reflection, study and dissemination of the Word of God.

In his Apostolic Letter instituting the Sunday of the Word of God,  Aperuit Illis, Pope Francis stated, “Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his Word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.”

In Kenya, this year’s national Sunday of the Word of God will be celebrated at St. Francis Riuru Parish of Nairobi Archdiocese.

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Bishop Michael Otieno Odiwa of Kenya’s Homa Bay Diocese who doubles as the Vice Chairman of the Commission for Missions and the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Operations in Kenya is expected to preside over the celebration.

Bishop Michael Otieno Odiwa of Kenya’s Homa Bay Diocese.

In the January 19 interview, Sr. Omondi made reference to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter when he instituted the Sunday of the Word of God saying the Bible is a collection of books for the people of God to read; it is not meant for “a privileged few.”

“The Bible cannot just be the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words,” Sr. Omondi said in reference to the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter that he issued 30 September 2019.

Sr. Millicent Omondi. Credit: Sr. Olga Massango 

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She continued, “At times, there can be a tendency to monopolize the sacred text by restricting it to certain circles or to select groups. It cannot be that way. The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity. The word of God unites believers and makes them one people.”

Speaking on the Sunday of the Word of God planned for January 23, Sr. Omondi urged the people of God to “befriend the word of God” saying that it gives direction to human life. 

“Befriend the word of God; it is God’s love letter to you! It is life, and it will give a sense of direction to your life and make you a better family person and a better citizen,” the Nairobi-based FSP member said.

Credit: Sr. Olga Massango

She further said that since the word of God plays the role of transforming people by making them true Christians, then there is a need to love it and also ask questions to the right people.

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Highlighting lack of interest in the word of God and sometimes ignorance as some of the hindrances to the spread of the word of God, Sr. Omondi urged the faithful to refrain from being choosy or selective when it comes to listening to the word of God.

Credit: Sr. Olga Massango

She went on to urge the faithful to read the word of God not to get points in order to attack each other, but for personal growth, especially spiritual growth.

Sr. Omondi also urged the people of God to interact with other church materials including Lectio Divina, which she said teaches on how one can pray with the word of God.

The Catholic Sister told ACI Africa that the idea to institute the Sunday of the Word of God was an appeal by the people of God to the Holy Father, adding that it is an indication that people are thirsty for the word of God.

“For me then, it shows the thirst of the people of God, to understand the scriptures, not just an intellectual thirst, but spiritual thirst to meet the Lord of the scriptures in the scriptures,” Sr. Omondi said in reference to people’s appeal to Pope Francis to institute the Sunday of the Word of God.