Calls for unity in the multi-ethnic Rift Valley region dominated installation of the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret Reverend Dominic Kimengich yesterday.
The colourful ceremony witnessed by Deputy President William Ruto and Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi marked the end of a two-year wait for a substantive bishop for the faithfuls of Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet who constitute the Catholic diocese of Eldoret. The diocese has at least 60 parishes.
The seat fell vacant after the former bishop, Cornelius Korir suddenly died.The elaborate rites were presided over by John Cardinal Njue, in a ceremony also witnessed by at least 15 Catholic Bishops from the country and beyond.
Ethics and values
In a speech read by DP Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the church to preach against vices that retard development. “The church must not shy away from its role of preaching ethics and values against corruption and impunity and other wrongs,” President Kenyatta said.He added, “Your installation comes at a time when the nation must come together to negotiate its nationhood. We did it in Lancaster in the 1960s, leading to the Lancaster consensus, we did it in the 1990s and we did it in 2008. We are doing it through the BBI process,” he said.
Ruto said political leaders will work closely with the church to ensure peace is sustained in the Rift region.He urged the new Bishop to work with church leaders from other denominations to unite political leaders.
“We have faith that the Rift Valley will be a valley of peace. All of us will unite to ensure Kenya is a place where we all live in peace and unity,” the DP said.After the rites, Bishop Kimengich who has been heading Lodwar Diocese since 2011, pledged loyalty to the church before a congregation of at least 10,000 Catholics, who braved a heavy downpour that pounded Eldoret on the better part of yesterday.
The Pope’s representative in Kenya, Hubertus Maria Van Megan announced that Bishop Kimengich has also been appointed by Pope Francis as acting Bishop of Catholic diocese of Lodwar.He was later installed as an elder by Kalenjin and Kikuyu elders from the North Rift region.Senator Gideon described Bishop Kimengich as a man with love for mankind. “We are honoured to have produced a son as gracious as Bishop Kimengich,” he said.
Gideon said Bishop Kimengich has united communities in Turkana where he has been Bishop for nine years.
He urged him to encourage political leaders in the region to embrace peace.“I wish God would make some politicians in this podium to behave like the Bishop. We are honoured that we produced a son as gracious as Bishop Kimengich,” Gideon said.The senator said he was privileged to work closely with the Bishop when he was also his MP in Baringo Central Constituency, where the cleric hails from.
Others present were governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Josphat Nanok (Turkana) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo).Chairman of Catholic MPs Chris Wamalwa said Parliament has worked with Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops in legislation and called for an improved working relationship.