Rome (Fides Service) – “Our catechists sustain the Catholic communities in the diocese” . This is the opinion of Bishop Virgilio Pante of Maralal and Bishop Luigi Paiaro of Nyahururu who are attending a Seminar for newly ordained Bishops of English-speaking mission territories held in Rome.
Both Bishops were appointed to care for new dioceses: Maralal created on 15 June 2001 and Nyahururu created on 5 December 2002. “Our dioceses are quite different “ the Bishops explain “Maralal in northern Kenya is in a mainly desert area and the peopel are nomads or semi-nomads, whereas Nyahururu is in the centre of the country in a fertile, relatively prosperous highland area. But the dioceses have a common characteristic: an mature and indispensable Catholic laity. In view of this we have opened centres for the formation of catechists. In fact catechists are the ones who animate our local communities and are in tune with the mindset of the people” the Bishops say.
“In Maralal” Mgr Pante says “the main difficulty is to provide pastoral care for families of herdsmen who move from one pasture to another. We have catechists who do this visiting. Next the water holes where the shepherds take their flocks to drink, we have set up church run dispensaries and medical centres. At these centres we can keep in contact with Catholics as well as evangelise among non Christians. We also arrange for the children of nomad farming families to board at school” says Bishop Pante and he adds: “Unfortunately in my area there is a lot of tribal fighting over pastures and theft of animals. This is a real tragedy… an evil which comes from the Devil”.
“ My diocese is very new” says Bishop Paiaro “but the work done previously bore fruit. I found a lively Catholic community animated by lay people of mature faith. We have no less than 54 local priests, I ordained the last 8 myself last month, 14 are out of the diocese at present: 6 study abroad ( 3 in the United States, and 3 in Italy) and the remaining 8 teach in seminaries in Kenya. On the pastoral level I intend to give priority to promoting the laity by starting Catholic Action in the diocese.”
Bishop Pante, a Consolata missionary, has years of experience in this region. He knows his priests personally because they were his students when he was rector of the seminary, before being appointed bishop. Bishop Pairaro, a fide donum missionary sent from Padova diocese in Italy, has been in Kenya since 1963.
Maralal diocese has an area of 20,809 sq. km and a population of 150,00 of whom 30,000 are Catholics gathered in 12 dioceses. Nyahurur has an area of 8,065 sq. km. and a population of 672,918 of whom 181,632 are Catholics gathered in 26 parishes (LM) (Fides Service 19/9/2003 EM lines 40 Words: 510)