In his second pastoral visit to St. Joseph Freinademetz Parish Witu-Kipini this year, Rt. Rev. Willybard Lagho has encouraged parishioners to “grow the seed of faith planted by Mill Hill Missionaries in this area by sustaining vocations through nurturing and encouraging calls to priesthood and religious life.”
The Local Ordinary of Catholic Diocese of Malindi was responding to a rallying call made by parishioners in all the nine Outstations of Witu Zone he visited yesterday, 20th December 2021, on the second day of his second Pastoral Visit to Witu-Kipini Parish. The parishioners were asking the Prelate to send more priests to their Parish as the expansive Parish that spans two counties, borders Boni Forest and has 16 Mission Stations is only served by two Missionary Priests.
“We are losing some of us to other faiths and denominations because, with only two priests, Holy Masses are not celebrated in some Outstations on Sundays. Some parishioners elect to go to other denominations where the pastor is available every Sunday and is close to them throughout the week,” expressed the parishioners in their request to Bishop Lagho.
Bishop Lagho responded by informing them that he continues to receive similar calls from other parishes in the Diocese but “you should be giving me priests instead of asking me for them. Where do priests come from?”
The third Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Malindi, who was ordained early this year is the first Kenyan and non-missionary local ordinary of the Coastal Diocese that serves Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu Counties, encouraged the parishioners to nurture vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life.
“For a longtime our Diocese has been served by Missionary Priests and Religious brothers and sisters from without. Even today, most of our parishes are run by missionaries because we only have 17 Diocesan Priests. When I say that we need to be self-sustaining as a Diocese I mean doing so in all aspects including Vocations. For there are not many missionaries available anymore to serve in our parishes, the only way we can be assured of sufficient pastoral care is by having our priests, religious brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Lagho.
Witu-Kipini Parish, one of the most expansive parishes in the Diocese, comprises Witu and Kipini Zones with a total of 16 Mission Stations.
Witu Zone, situated in Lamu County and bordering Boni Forest, has 9 Mission Stations (Witu Centre, Moa, Katsakakairo, Vatican, Kakathe, Tangeni, Soroko, Chakamba and Maisha Masha), while Kipini Zone which is in Tana River County has 7 Mission Stations (Jericho, Gatundu, Kaloleni, Chumvi, Kizuliani, Shauri Moyo and Kipini Centre).
In his first Pastoral Visit to Witu-Kipini Parish, undertaken in October 2021, Bishop Lagho visited the 7 Mission Stations of Kipini Zone and held meetings with parishioners regarding the pastoral situation of their area.
Yesterday, on his second pastoral visit, he similarly toured the 9 mission stations of Witu Zone.
Bishop Lagho’s 2nd Pastoral Visit to Witu-Kipini Parish started on Sunday, 19th December 2021, with celebration of Thanksgiving Mass for Security Officers serving in the terror-prone Boni Forest and its environs.
Witu-Kipini Parish was established in the 1990s through Primary Evangelization efforts of Very Rev. Fr. Albert Buijs, who is currently the Vicar General of Catholic Diocese of Malindi, and other Mill Hill Missionaries among them Rev. Fr. Adolf ‘Alleluia’ Poll.
The parish is still run by Mill Hill Missionaries, with Rev. Fr. Alex Kimbi as Parish Priest and Rev. Fr. Ananth Nayak as his assistant. Currently, there are 4 seminarians of St. Joseph’s Missionary Society of Mill Hill at the parish.
The Parish also has 3 Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (Mill Hill Sisters) assisting in Education and HIV/AIDS rehabilitation programs in the parish.
Report by: Moses M. Mpuria