KENYA: Archbishop of Nairobi Roots for More Synergy Between Diocesan and Religious Priests

By Paschal Norbert

NAIROBI, SEPTEMBER 5,2023 (CISA) – Two months short of his second episcopal installation anniversary as the fifth archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, Most Rev Philip Anyolo in reflection of his service to the Church in the capital has appealed for more synergy between the diocesan and religious priests, saying that all of them are wonderful gifts that Christ has given us in the Church.

Using the analogy of two human feet in action, the former chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said that though the vocations of the diocesan and religious priesthood are different, their separate but complementary ways, help the Church to flourish.

“Missionaries have their way of doing things. If you look at a human person, he has two legs, unless he has lost one leg.  One leg is ahead and another one is behind.  I always look at missionaries and the diocesans also like that and in that manner.  When you are talking about the missionaries, you are talking about the leg that’s going out there, isn’t it? To evangelize.  But when you are talking about the diocesans and many others who are in the diocese, those are legs that are on the ground, but they’re on the same body,” states Anyolo.

He explains, “So when they are matching together, then you see a body moving.  The missionaries and the diocesans working together means that you are not leaving anyone behind and no one remains stuck but they are walking together.”

Archbishop Anyolo admits that he never imagined being the local ordinary of Nairobi and thus, after his installation, he realized there was a dysergy between the diocesans and religious and hence, on January 16, 2023, he created the office for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (ICL/SAL).

“I never knew I would come to Nairobi.  It was always granted that I would not be here. But now that I’ve come to Nairobi, I am building very close links with even the missionaries who were there before.  The Spiritans, the Consolatas and all others.  Because these are the ones who founded the Church and they could see Nairobi from a distance,” he said.

According to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Nairobi on January 16, the ICL/SAL office was instituted to carry out the church’s pastoral concerns of the consecrated men and women and assist in all matters of ecclesial relevance related to their existence in the archdiocese.

Anyolo posits that the work of evangelization that was started by the missionaries in Nairobi cannot be understated. “I can’t speak of everything that is happening at the parish am in at St.  Austin but then I can see what is happening at the cathedral.  Because in between there are many things that have come up and many people are staying there given that many parishes have also been created.  These developments, I want to say that this work has come out in appreciation of the missionaries who have been there.  They came, I think this place must have been full of mosquitoes and coldness.  But they sacrificed to be here, some of them must have died for the greater glory of God. For God’s presence to be here and for the sanctification and the salvation of ourselves,” he maintained.

Ahead of the 20th death anniversary celebrations of Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga, Archbishop Anyolo appealed to the men and women in consecrated life to own the process of the canonization of the servant of God as an endeavour for everyone in the Church.

“I’m very happy that in the process of this canonization of Cardinal Otunga, they are fully involved. And I even want to urge other missionaries who are here that we come to participate together in this process.  I’m launching an occasion of Synodality together with the men and women religious within the archdiocese and this will be one of the main agenda that we will share.  That we take this path of the canonization of Cardinal all of us together. Because he belongs to all our generations,” he appealed.

For the two years he has been in Nairobi, Archbishop Anyolo hailed his predecessors as visionary for having established working structure and systems in the archdiocese that has eased his work.

“My journey in Nairobi is now coming to two years. I think it has been earmarked by the review and thanksgiving to God for the work that has been done so far in the Archdiocese of Nairobi.  I want to thank my predecessors who have been there on whose work, on whose foundations we continue to build the Church of God in Nairobi.  I want to thank the early bishops, including Archbishop McCarthy, then Cardinal Maurice Otunga, Archbishop Raphael Ndingi and then Cardinal John Njue among them, mostly, we have Bishop David Kamau and before that also Bishop Ireri.  All of them have done tremendous work within the Archdiocese of Nairobi,” he stated.