By Arnold Neliba
KITUI, SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 (CISA)-Rt. Rev. Joseph Maluki Mwongela the newly installed bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui has pledged to continue with the works of his predecessors as he takes over the leadership of the diocese.
“Today I want to offer myself to God who has called me and chosen me to lead his people. I loudly promise to be a loving and caring bishop. I shall strive to be a pastoral bishop, one who smells like the sheep. May we all work together with love and joy to build the Kingdom of God. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will. I seek to joyfully do your will. In me, may your sheep find a caring shepherd in me, your servant,” Bishop Mwongela said in his first address as bishop on Saturday August 29.
In a direct address to his predecessor Archbishop Muheria he said, “We the people of Kitui love you immensely. Thank you for your selfless service here with us in the last 12 years. Be assured that we shall complete your dreams for Kitui and do much more than you would have imagined. We shall never let you down. Rejoice and be happy. You are a gift to Kitui, to Kenya and to the world. Wewe ni wetu daima!”
“I stand here with joy and confidence because I am inheriting a diocese in which people are united for a common purpose ready to serve God. We shall sustain the momentum and explore many new ways as we grow,” he said.
Bishop Mwongela pledged to work with priests as his closest collaborators in service to the church.
“In me you have a loving father. Each one of you is my beloved son. Feel loved. May you make me proud by being faithful priests. Let us be friends, serious friends. As we serve, may selfishness never enslave us. Jesus warns us as he warned Martha. “You worry and fret over many things yet only one thing is necessary.” Let us sit and learn at the feet of Jesus who is our friend.”
“Let the church in Kitui rejoice because they have priests who know the meaning of identity of priesthood and once we give that the rest should flow by the grace of God. May we consistently rediscover the value of priesthood and live it to the fullest in total service to the people,” Bishop Mwongela added.
While treasuring the lay people’s selfless contribution to the diocese and maturity of faith of the people he lauded them for loving the diocese despite hardships.
“We have limited resources but we give willingly. You are to remain the greatest resource in building the Kingdom of God in Kitui. Continue offering your resources even without being asked so that we transform our parishes and our dear diocese,” he said noting that as a diocese, “We have come from far, and we are to go much further, in leaps and bounds. Our Lady of Africa watches over us and intercedes for us. Our mother Mary, remains our Protection and refuge at all times.”
He called upon leaders at different levels of government collaborate in all forms in making the Catholic diocese of Kitui in the spirit of his predecessors.
“I humbly address you our dear leaders. You are God’s chosen instruments to transform the world. Leadership is for service. Earn greatness through humble service. Our dignity and greatness does not depend on what we have but on who we are,” he said.
As he takes over the leadership of the diocese he pledged to continue with what had been started and sustained while exploring new ways of building faith of the people in Kitui.
“Jesus said that he came not to abolish, but to fulfill the law. I shall continue what has been started and sustained while exploring new ways of building the faith of our people. We have our diocesan pastoral strategic plan which we continue to implement. We shall come together and plan together on our way forward. We continue aiming at self reliance and building the faith of our people,” he said.
Bishop Mwongela was installed in a ceremony presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya Archbishop Hubertus Matheus Maria van Megen, assisted by John Cardinal Njue of Nairobi, and Archbishop Anthony Muheria, the outgoing Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui.
The ceremony attended by 15 bishops was characterized by stringent measures put in place to prevent a possible spread of coronavirus. Everybody present wore a mask, had their temperature screened at points of entry into the venue and was given sanitizers donated by the Country government of Kitui. Several handwashing and sanitizing points were also set up at the venue.
“Love your new shepherd. Take care of your new shepherd. Listen to your new shepherd. Support and protect your new shepherd. I believe god has given us the best gift at this moment. Don’t devalue the gift he has given you today,” Archbishop Anthony Muheria told the Christians of the diocese.