Who will form the hearts of our Children? Homily by Bishop John Oballa

During the celebration of the Mass together with the Diocesan Coordinators from all the Arch/dioceses in Kenya, Bishop John Oballa gave his deeply reflected homily. He based his reflection on the Scripture Readings for Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter (Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11-19). St Paul told the Presbyters (priests) of the Church of Ephesus: Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers……I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard….” In the Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father asking him to “keep those you have given me true to your name….I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.”

The Bishop, who is also the Chairperson of KCCB-CJPD emphasized the key issue in these two readings, that is: the effect of the evil one perverting the truth and urging people to be on guard. He began by quoting St John Paul II who said that whoever doubts the existence of the Devil, such a person is not a Christian. The prophecy of St Paul has come to pass and its truth is seen in three key recent issues (just to mention a few), namely:

  • The unimaginable ruling by the Judiciary on the issue of LGBTQ+
  • The subtle and covert perversion of some religious truths and practices like fasting which has misled so many people
  • The recent ruling that negatively affects pastoral work in the learning institutions.

Bishop John said that with the ruling on LGBTQ+ the people who are seriously at risk are the young people, bringing into serious concern on who will form the heart of our children. In the Court of Appeal at Kisumu (Civil Appeal No 173 of 2020) Justice Joel Ngugi ruled in the appeal of a case involving a pupil in St Anne’s Primary School Ahero, in the Archdiocese of Kisumu that learners will not be compelled to follow a school’s faith. This meant that the pupils/students will not be forced to attend Mass on Fridays or any day chosen by the school.

He insisted that it is only through the formation of the heart of the people, especially the young people to form their hearts. The formation of the heart of the young people in the learning institutions is achieved through the spiritual formation that is provided by the church and religious organizations in schools that they sponsor. He urged the Coordinators of Justice & Peace to continue in their quest for justice on these areas. There is need, he emphasized, to be keen on the sly nature of the evil one who is capable even to begin with some truth and drive it to extremes. He gave an example of the religious practice of fasting which has been taken up by some cults to an extreme case whereby people starve themselves to death in the false hope that they would meet with Jesus.

The Diocesan Coordinators are gathering in the Catholic Diocese of Kitui to evaluate the concluded Lenten Campaign of 2023 and beginning the long journey of developing materials for the 2024 Lenten Campaign. It started on Monday 23rd May 2023 and ends on Thursday 25th May 2023.

  The Archdiocese of Kisumu is represented by Rev. Fr. Samuel Nyattaya and Rev. Fr. Anthony Futa.

Life is a Mission: Bishop John Oballa to CJPD Coordinators

The Diocesan Coordinators of Catholic Justice and Peace from all the Arch/Dioceses in Kenya are gathering at the Pastoral Centre (Thome wa Aklisto) of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui from 22nd to 26th May 2023 to do two major things:

  1. To evaluate the concluded Lenten Campaign of 2023
  2. To develop materials for the Lenten Campaign of 2024.

Speaking during the Homily of the Opening Mass, Bishop John Oballa emphasized that LIFE IS A MISSION. He based his reflection on the day’s reading (Tuesday of the 7th Week of Easter: Acts 20:17-27 and John 17:1-11). Jesus was clear of the mission for which he came into the world. At the end of his mission, he said, “Father, the hour has come, glorify your son……I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you”.

 He called upon the Coordinators to see the work of justice and peace as part of the mission which the Lord has called upon us to carry out. Like Paul, speaking to his listeners from Ephesus, he is aware that he has completed his mission and that imprisonment and death was awaiting him, he said, “I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.

Lenten Campaign is a Campaign that is spearheaded by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) through its Department of Justice & Peace (CJPD).  Every year, in the month of May the Diocesan Coordinators come together to begin the long journey of preparing the materials for the Lenten Campaign of the following year. It is indeed a prophetic work involving prayer and deep reflection, considering the state of the nation.

The session was opened by Bishop John Oballa himself as the Bishop Chair of the KCCB-CJPD and head of the Comission for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Present too were Rev. Fr. Bernard Ngaruia, the Deputy Secretary General of the KCCB-Secretaria, as well as Mrs Beatrice Odera, the National Executive Secretary for KCCB-CJPD. Bishop John told the participants to remember that we are a people of hope, of strategy and prayer!

Religious Against Human Trafficking

During a recent meeting in Kisumu which brought together all the Priests, Deacons, Religious Men and Women working in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, there was a very informative session concerning issues of human trafficking. This Session was facilitated by Mr Juma Edmunds, a staff working for an association dubbed Religious Against Human Trafficking (RAHT-KENYA). RAHT has a mission to uphold human dignity at all costs from modern-day slavery to freedom by collaborating in eradicating human trafficking. What they envision is inspired by the mercy of God, that is, a world free from human trafficking. As they carry out this mission, they aim at 5Ps, that is Preventing, Protecting, Prosecuting, Partnering, and Prayer.

As Mr Juma made his presentation, it became clear that human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation. This crime can occur within a country or trans-nationally. He emphasized that it is a reality that is silently closer to us than we could imagine. He reiterated the role that the Priests, and the Religious Men and Women have in keeping themselves and everyone else from human trafficking.

There is a difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. In human trafficking, the victim usually doesn’t know the intention of the one trafficking him or her. In the case of human smuggling, the person being smuggled has consented to that act. There are several factors that push a smuggled person from his/her home and pull him/her to another place. However, there is a thin line separating the two crimes but most cases of smuggling end up as trafficking once the smuggled reaches the destination and the dream is not realized, making him/her vulnerable and unsuspecting any danger that comes in the pretext of help. He used some volunteer participants to demonstrate how human trafficking occurs perpetrated by even close members of the family. Another surprise was that even the Religious, especially Nuns have often fallen victims of being trafficked. It was pointed out that several dubious Congregations from Spain have lured a number of Aspirants to join them and only end up as being forced into sex workers in a foreign land. With the help of Religious Against Human Trafficking, a number of victims have been rescued. The success of such rescue operations have been due to strong partnership that they have with other organizations like Counter Human Trafficking Trust – East Africa (CHTEA), HAART-Kenya, Sema Nami, and Kituo cha Sheria.

Present in the engagement was the Archbishop of Kisumu, Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba, who emphasized that one way of promoting social ills like Human Trafficking and LGBTQ+ is by REMAINING SILENT and failing to talk about it. He urged the Priests, to use the power of the pulpit to voice the social concern of the Church on such issues.

Workshop on Collaborative Ministry in the Archdiocese of Kisumu

On the 8th day of the 5th month in the 2023rd year of the Lord, Priests, Deacons, Religious Men and Women working in the Archdiocese of Kisumu gathered at the Tumsifu Centre (also known as Goan Centre) for a workshop on Collaborative Ministry. This workshop was facilitated by Rev. Bonaventure Lucidio, the Director of Pontifical Mission Societies PMS at the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).

In his opening remarks, the Archbishop of Kisumu, Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba emphasized the importance of this workshop, thanking Fr Luchidio for organizing it and thanking the Priests, Deacons, and Religious Men and Women for creating time to attend. He underlined the need for Priests to collaborate with one another and with the Religious Men and Women in their apostolate. The Archbishop told the Priests and the Religious that if their relationship is bad, the parishioners will always know it, almost immediately. No matter how good the priest’s sermon is, it will not create any impact if he does not relate well with the Religious in his parish. Such a bad relationship, he said, simply de-evangelizes the Christians.Fr. Luchidio in his presentation encouraged the participants to do more than the usual way of doing things. In the spirit of the Synod on synodality, Fr. Luchidio reiterated the theme of the 2023 World Mission Sunday which will be about Hearts on fire, feet on the move. Jesus sent his disciples two by two, signalling the need for a collaborative ministry. All members of the Church are now described as Christ’s faithful. Those incorporated into Christ through Baptism are constituted the People of God. They are called, each according to his or her own particular condition to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to fulfil in the world. This does not mean that our participation in and responsibility for the life and mission of the church is identical. It is not identical but collaborative.

The Vicar of Religious in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, Rev. Fr Joseph Oguok IMC thanked all the participants for their participation in the workshop. He noted the mutual relationship that already exists between the Priests and the Religious. Fr Joseph is also part of the Liaison Committee in the Archdiocese of Kisumu.

Priests, both diocesan and Missionary, came from all the 63 parishes of the Archdiocese of Kisumu, starting from its farthest border with Bungoma Diocese to the other far border with Kericho Diocese. It was such a wonderful event bringing together the very old members of the Priests and Religious together with the newly ordained Deacons and newly Professed Sisters.

Youth Conference on Reconciliation for an Inclusive Nation

From 17th – 20th April 2023, 25 young people of below 35 years represented the Department of Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Kisumu (ADOK-CJPD) in a YOUTH CONFERENCE ON RECONCILIATION FOR AN INCLUSIVE NATION which took place in Kakamega, at the Bishop Stam Pastoral Centre.This Conference was organized by KCCB-General Secretariat through the Catholic Justice and Peace Department (CJPD). This department has been implementing a Program known as MulikaI Initiative- Peaceful and Accountable Democratic Process for a Cohesive Kenya. It is funded by USAID. The Program has a Youth Component which seeks to build their capacity to take charge of affairs of the country through knowledge generation and dissemination, and facilitation of safe spaces for engagement in governance, democratic and development processes.

Towards the 2022 General Elections in Kenya, CJPD collaborated with the KCCB-National Youth Office and conducted youth trainings across the 4 Ecclesiastical Provinces (Kisumu, Nyeri, Nairobi, and Mombasa). This was aimed at building their capacity as agents of peace and to become peace champions during the General Elections.

By organizing for this Conference, KCCB-CJPD and the KCCB-National Youth Office wanted to further the engagement of the youth to deliberate on their role. Since Lenten Campaign is a campaign that keenly chooses its weekly topics, it provided a good platform to continue building the capacity of the youth to take charge of the affairs of the country and their immediate community.The topics for this year’s Lenten Campaign included:

  • WEEK ONE: Reconciliation
  • WEEK TWO: Mental Wellness
  • WEEK THREE: Youth, the Hope of Our Society
  • WEEK FOUR: Economic Justice
  • WEEK FIVE: Ecological

It was a very informative and interactive engagement for the Youth of Kisumu to meet with their colleagues from other Dioceses like Kakamega, Homabay, and Kisii.

             

 

Financial Literacy for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Kisumu!

The Archdiocese of Kisumu engaged Equity Bank to facilitate a financial literacy for all the clergy (Priests and deacons, both Diocesan and Religious) working in the Archdiocese. According to Investopedia, financial literacy “is the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing.” It adds that “when you are financially literate, you have the foundation of a relationship with money, and it is a lifelong journey of learning”. This exercise is part of the various programs of on-going formation for priests, since the seminary formation includes training on matters of finances.

The week-long program, (24th to 28th April 2023) was officially opened by the Archbishop of Kisumu, Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba. In his remarks, the Archbishop reminded the clergy about the stewardship that is required in managing the temporal goods of the Church. In order to be a good steward of the parish finances, financial literacy is a necessity. He thanked the Equity Branch Manager for Ang’awa Street in Kisumu, Alice Ouma for accepting to carry out this exercise.

The clergy on their part exhibited deep appreciation for this engagement and freely interacted with the trainers from Equity. There were moments of Focused Group Discussions on various sample budgets which then the groups presented to the participants.

The whole exercise is hoped to improve the management of the resources that are available in the parishes, all, including the least of the parishes in the Archdiocese!