"Never fall into the temptation of routine": Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya to New Bishop

Bishop John Mbinda, ordained Bishop of Kenya's Lodwar Diocese on 4 June 2022. Credit: ACI Africa

The representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has cautioned the newly ordained Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar against the temptation of “routine” characterized with "blindly following” the beaten path of traditions.

In his homily during the Saturday, June 6 Episcopal Ordination of Bishop John Mbinda, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen told the candidate he was about to consecrate Bishop to rely on the Holy Spirit to foster evangelization in the Kenyan Catholic Diocese.

“Never fall into the temptation of routine, of blindly following traditions or merciless application of the law,” Archbishop van Megen told the member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) during the Eucharistic celebration held at Ekales Cultural Centre in Lodwar. 

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who doubles as the representative of the Holy Father in South Sudan said the temptation of routine can be overcome by being attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that “reveals always” new ways of living the ministry and overcoming the challenges in the apostolate.

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He said, “The Spirit of the Lord moves and He knows the depths of the human spirit and the human heart, and reveals always the different ways to make the word enter into the depths of our souls, however gloomy and dark it may be.”

The Nuncio recalled the influence the Apostles of Jesus had on people after they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

During the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which marked the thanksgiving for the first fruits of wheat harvest and, which was later associated with the commemoration of Moses receiving the law from God on Mount Sinai, participants in the annual event did it out of routine, he said.

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“If you read in between the lines in the Acts of the Apostles you understand that the Law had become … oppressive, deadly, devoid of God’s presence," Archbishop van Megen explained, adding that while the Jews were hungry for the Spirit of God, they could not find it in the teachings of Moses.

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The Jews kept going to Jerusalem to commemorate “that law out of tradition; it had always been like that; and out of obligation because it was a duty and, in their hearts, they were dissatisfied and then suddenly they were moved unexpectedly by a small group of followers of a strange Rabbi moved by the Spirit."

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To overcome the temptation of routine, the Apostolic Nuncio told the member of the Spiritans in Kenya who was appointed Bishop of Lodwar on April 4 to seek inspiration from the two founders of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Claude Poullart des Places and Venerable Francis Libermann.

The French name “des Places” has the meaning of “from the open places”, which can be interpreted as being “about openness of the Spirit”, Archbishop van Megen said, adding that such openness signifies “giving room and attention to people, freedom to their hearts in order for them to grow in that Spirit.”

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Venerable Libermann, on his part, “is a friendly man who is considerate, who understands and is open, who understands and who embraces,” he went on to say, adding that “des Places and Libermann are like a program for the Congregation.”

The two founders of the Spiritans, the Nuncio told the new Bishop of Lodwar, “can also be your program for your pastoral work in this Diocese.”

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“Be that good and friendly man who gives room to people to breathe,” the Dutch-born Nuncio who doubles as the Permanent Observer to the United Nations Environment Program and Human Settlements Program told the candidate he was about to consecrate Bishop. 

He encouraged the Bishop-elect to heed the words of Libermann who said, “All you have to do is keep yourself docile and pliable in the hands of the Spirit of life, whom our Lord has placed in your soul to be your all."

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The Spirit, the Nuncio told the native of Kenya’s Machakos Diocese, “must be the principal and unique source of all your affections, of all your desires and movements of your soul; He must be the thriving power of your mind, and the guide of your soul through the movements He implants there.”

“Dear John, if you are able to follow up on those words, if the Holy Spirit is really able to govern heart, then you will be like Christ who once said to His disciples, ‘my yoke is easy, my burden is light,’” the Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan told the new Local Ordinary of Lodwar Diocese.

Credit: ACI Africa

The newly ordained Bishop who turned 49 last month had been ministering at St. Chad’s South Norwood Parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark in the United Kingdom at the time of his Episcopal appointment.

Following his Episcopal Ordination on June 4, Bishop Mbinda has succeeded 60-year-old Bishop Dominic Kimengich who was transferred to the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret in November 2019.

In his homily during the June 4 event, Archbishop van Megen appealed for prayers for the new Bishop so that his mind "may be pleasing to God and that he may be totally conformed to the holy will of God." 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.