Church “wants strong commitment from you”: Nuncio in Kenya to New Bishop

Newly Consecrated Local Ordinary of Kitale Diocese in Kenya, Bishop Henry Juma Odonya. Credit: Moses Mpuria/Sheshi Visual Arts

The Catholic Church expects “strong commitment” from the newly Ordained Bishop for Kenya’s Kitale Diocese, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya has said. 

In his homily during the Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Henry Juma Odonya on January 21, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen also said that the Church requires that the youngest Kenyan Catholic Bishop he was going to Consecrate be, “like Peter, a rock on which Christ can build his church”. 

“The Church, dear Fr. Henry, wants a strong commitment from your side and it wants you to dig deep into your soul and to make up your mind; the church wants you to look her in the eye and desires to hear a loud and clear commitment,” Archbishop van Megen told the 46-year-old Bishop-elect who was appointed Bishop for Kitale Diocese last November.  

He added, “The Church wants to know where you stand, and it wants you to be a rock, a rock like Peter, a rock on which Christ can build his church, and you yourself need to stand on that rock, steadfast and strong.”

During January 21 event that was held at the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) showgrounds in Kitale Diocese, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who also represents the Holy Father in South Sudan reflected on the nature of Episcopacy, which he said revolves around the word of God, the deposit of faith, the Sacraments, and a life of prayer.


“It's not about our qualities, it's not about our merits, but it's about the marriage of Christ, about the grace of God and the Church wants you to be a faithful steward, a moderator, and a guardian of the mysteries of Christ,” he said.

Archbishop van Megen cautioned the new Bishop against materialism, saying, “The one who grants a Sacrament in exchange for money falls into the sin of simony, and it's not about making a career or about power games, and it's not a way to impose ourselves on others, to load it over them with an iron pit.”

The Dutch-born Vatican Diplomat told the candidate he was about to Consecrate Bishop to attend to the poor, those who are in need, and to welcome strangers.

“As a Bishop, you should have special attention for the poor, the suffering; for the sick, the sinners, those who live at the fringes of society and who are even excluded many times from our Church communities,” Archbishop van Megen said.

Consecrated on January 21, Bishop Odonya has succeeded Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley whose retirement was made public on November 4. 

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The member of St. Patrick’s Society for the Foreign Missions (Kiltegan Fathers) who was lauded as “a giant of faith” during the January 21 event was the pioneer Bishop of Kitale Diocese; he was Consecrated Bishop for the Kenyan Diocese in August 1998.

Born in December 1976 in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, Bishop Odonya was ordained a Priest for the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret in February 2006.

Bishop Odonya started his Priestly formation at St. Mary's Propaedeutic Molo Seminary in Kenya's Diocese of Nakuru in 1997. He later joined St. Augustine Mabanga Seminary in the Diocese of Bungoma, and St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the Archdiocese of Nairobi for his philosophical and theological studies, respectively. 

At the time of his Episcopal appointment, Bishop Odonya was serving as a Formator at St. Patrick’s Philosophy House in the Archdiocese of Durban, South Africa.

In his homily January 21, the representative of the Holy Father in Kenya also reflected on some of the challenges associated with the Episcopal Ministry.


“Dear Henry, you will certainly meet resistance in your life and some people will surely speak evil of you; people will seek to undermine you; people will attack you; people will try to destroy you; but like the Apostle Paul, God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and of love and of self-discipline,” he said.

Archbishop van Megen who started his service as Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan in 2014 assured the new Bishop of his prayers and encouraged him to hold on to the sound teachings received from Jesus Christ.

The youngest Catholic Bishop in Kenya, the newly Consecrated Bishop begins his Episcopal service as the second Local Ordinary of the 11,737 square-kilometer Kenyan Diocese that was erected in April 1998.

The Diocese has a population of 264,000 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics; it is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kisumu.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.