The new Bishop of Kitui shares: I am Bishop Joseph Mwongela of the Catholic diocese of Kitui. I was appointed bishop on March 17, 2020 but my consecration was delayed until August 29, 2020 due to the uncertainties and restrictions of Covid-19. Religious gatherings were banned for most part of last year. People lost jobs, children were away from school, businesses were closed and many people started losing hope.
The church had to remain a light and a source of hope. My predecessor archbishop Anthony Muheria, archbishop emeritus Peter Kairo and myself introduced a Programme called Hope4U to assist those most affected by Covid-19 within the archdiocese of Nyeri and the diocese of Kitui. Well-wishers contributed generously and we were able to assist the needy especially the orphans, widows and widowers and the casual workers who lost their jobs due to Covid-19. We started offering counseling and rescue services to those who are in Covid-19 related distress, domestic violence, drugs and substance abuse.
I have been visiting the 29 parishes of the diocese on different weekends so that I can be close to the people during this difficult time. I also visited the key institutions like the junior seminary and the Catholic Schools. It has been a great learning experience for me as the local bishop.
I have focused on promoting vocations and self-reliance in our diocese. Each one is called to pursue a life of holiness and seek to transform the world. Our youth are a great resource. They attend in huge numbers and they are ready to listen to the voice of God. The young people with a job are supporting their communities and the Church. They are learning to give back to society after having benefitted from the Church sponsorship and empowerment programs.
Our seminarians are gradually resuming studies and formation. On May 22, 2021, we hope to ordain two priests and six deacons in our diocese. We have 60 seminarians at different stages of formation, which is a big blessing. We are grateful to the diocese of San Diego for allowing us to participate in the Missionary Cooperation Plan since 2001 when I first visited the diocese. We have always been well received by all the parishes where we have done appeals in the Diocese of San Diego.
I look forward to a sustained partnership between our diocese and the diocese of San Diego. Our diocese of Kitui has benefited immensely over the years from the Missionary Cooperation Plan. My many visits and stay in San Diego expanded my horizon on the meaning of the Church and on how to promote self-reliance as we work together as one people of God. For me, San Diego is real home. Some of our programs that benefitted from the sustained Missionary Cooperation Plan are; St. John Eudes Rehabilitation Program, education of needy children, fees for our seminarians, mass intentions for our priests in remote parishes, support to orphans, widows and widowers, parish empowerment programs, shallow wells and earth dams in our water and sanitation programs, seeds to farmers, improved animal breeds and catechetical programs.
The Diocese of Kitui, Nairobi, Kenya was assigned to St. Catherine of Laboure, San Diego in 2017 and St. Richard Church, Borrego Springs in 2019 for Missionary Cooperation Plan. They are assigned to St. Charles Church, San Diego for MCP 2021.
– Bishop Joseph Mwongela – Diocese of Kitui