Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
At Episcopal ordination of Bishop Willybard Kitogho Lagho on Friday, March 19, as the Local Ordinary of Malindi diocese, the newly ordained Prelate has called on Christians, leaders of various sectors and all people of good will to embrace unity and peace so that harmony can prevail in the society.
Speaking after the ordination, Bishop Lagho who was appointed by Pope Francis Monday, December 28, 2020, promised to work towards building and promoting peace among the people of Malindi and the entire country.
“In my vision, and in my leadership and responsibilities in the community, I will commit myself to building unity among the people living and receiving their services in Malindi,” the newly ordained Bishop said asking for God’s intervention to have “a dignified direction to live in peace and harmony.”
Bishop Lagho who until his appointment has been the Vicar General and Head of Secretariat in the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa from 2008, called on citizens and all leaders to shun away from negative reaction to those who have different opinion from theirs.
“Let us stop the idea of dividing people because that behavior fosters hatred and divisions among people rather than uniting them,” he said encouraging all people to respect each other regardless of religious or political differences.
Explaining his coat of arms whose slogan is “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Rt. Rev. Lango who succeeds the late Bishop Emanuel Barbara (OFM Cap) who died in January 2018, said, “The message of peacemaking is well illustrated by the slogan. So, let us work together to build peace, to be part of it and to spread the Gospel.”
He further stressed the need for unity saying that “Kenyans are not only seeking reconciliation with religious leaders but also with cultural and political leaders.”
“Let us embrace those people who have been perceived as evil… Let us overcome social, political and religious animosity with pure motives; let us not make hatred and oppression part of our Kenyan culture,” the former Consultor in the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in Rome, Italy appealed.
He added, “Kenya is a home for all of us and the time to embrace peace and unity is now because if we wait for tomorrow we may be too late.”
Addressing Bishop Lagho on the occasion that took place when the Church commemorates the Solemnity of St. Joseph the spouse of the Virgin Mary, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan who was the ordaining Prelate assured the new Bishop that his call is from God who will always be at his side to guide him while shepherding the flock.
“St Joseph was a righteous man. He left Mary in silence not to have a scandal…But the angel who appeared in his dreams made him change his mind to accept Mary as his wife,” Archbishop van Megen said during his reflection.
“Don’t fall on your own religious reflexes. Don’t follow the traditions blindly but discern,” the Apostolic Nuncio said and added, “Stay close to God, follow the whispering of the Holy Spirit.”
He further encouraged the new Prelate, “Remain who you are. A man of simplicity, profound wisdom, experienced and very fatherly. Be a protector to the Church in Malindi as St. Joseph is a protector; be a good counsellor to the people of Malindi.”
The mission of Malindi Diocese is to seek to evangelize all people by responding and attending to Spiritual social, economic, political and cultural needs based on Catholic Social Teachings, using the principles of hope, faith, and love through collaboration with other willing stakeholders to achieve full human development in light of morality, equality, transparency, accountability, justice and truth.