, 21 January, 2020 / 2:30 AM
With this year’s Season of Lent starting February 26, the Catholic Bishops in the East African nation of Kenya are expecting Catholics in the country to focus their attention on “stewardship” during the 40-day period, striving to take good care of God’s creation and gifts with “more respect, solidarity and vigilance.”
The official launch of the Lenten Campaign has been slated to take place on February 22 in Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese under the theme, “Stewardship for a transformed nation: My obligation.”
“We hope to promote a sense of appreciation of the fact that what we are and have are actually held in trust at the service of others so that we promote more respect, solidarity and vigilance,” the Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) under the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops KCCB, Bishop John Owaa Oballa told ACI Africa in reference to the planned Lenten Campaign.
During the Monday, January 20 interview, Bishop Oballa explained what informed the theme for Lent saying, “Instead of being a servant, manager or an administrator, man wants to play owner and deny others the fruits of creation by trying to amass things for himself. Conscious of that danger of (man) attempting to turn things against God’s divine intent for his creatures, we thought and found the appropriate theme would be stewardship. It will help us explore this and reflect on the original plan as intended by God.”
According to the Kenyan Prelate who is also the Vice-Chairman of KCCB, by having the specific theme on stewardship as a means of transforming the nation, the Bishops in Kenya “hope to create more awareness on servanthood and to create that sense of responsibility to God and others for what He (God) has placed us in charge of.”
Besides continuing the evangelization mission of Christ, Bishop Oballa noted, Local Ordinaries have an obligation to promote integral human development, including the need to identify and speak about issues of concern in society.
In that regard, Bishop Oballa who is the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Ngong Diocese explained about the link between KCCB’s anti-corruption campaign launched last October and the planned Lenten Campaign.
“When we (Bishops) made the Subukia Declaration and launched the anti-corruption campaign, we also thought that this year’s Lenten Campaign should be a subset of that (anti-corruption campaign) without overshadowing the purpose of Lent,” Bishop Oballa said during the Monday interview.
Reflecting on the theme of the Lenten Campaign, the CJPC Executive Secretary in Kenya’s Murang’a Diocese, Fr. Charles Waweru observed, “to change and transform Kenya we must accept our special role of stewardship for creation.”
“Kenya has become a crying nation, a nation of tears in almost every sphere of life,” Fr. Waweru told ACI Africa and added, “To a Kenyan, news of corruption, floods, landslides, famine, drought, spousal killings, health crisis, among others have become the order of the day; we can say we are living in a 'learned hopelessness' condition.”
On his part, CJPC Coordinator in Kenya’s Archdiocese of Kisumu, Fr. Samuel Nyattaya considers individual efforts significant in fostering stewardship.
“I must be a good steward even if everybody else is not a good steward; It makes a difference,” Fr. Nyattaya stated in a reflection shared with ACI Africa.
According to the Kenyan cleric, “there is a lot of joy, a divine joy to be right when everybody is wrong even if you are the only one, than waiting to be right only when everybody else is right.”
“Join the minority group of the few people who are good stewards,” Fr. Nyattaya appealed.
The Bishops have provided weekly topics to guide personal and community reflections during the entire period of Lent. The topics include responsible and sustainable farming, youth and development, natural resource management, leadership and accountability, and sanctity of life and human dignity.
During the campaign, Catholics across the country will be expected to make Lenten contributions at parish level. The money collected is meant for needs in the respective parishes, dioceses and the national CJPC office.
The Lenten contributions submitted to the national office of CJPC are used to finance “a particular national need that the office can assist” in line with the Lenten Collection Policy, Bishop Oballa clarified during the January 20 interview.
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