Friday, December 4, 2009

Secretary General's Christmas Message

As we conclude the year 2009, we at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat thank God for such a wonderful year. We find enough reasons for celebration.

The Year 2008 was full of turbulence and anxiety following the Post Election crisis that rocked our country. It is in this year also, that our Strategic Plan 2004-2008 ended in December, and therefore, we had to put together a new planning blue print (Strategic Plan 2009-2013, now the KEC-Catholic Secretariat Vision 2013, thanks to the facilitatory and advisory role of His Eminence John Cardinal Njue Chairman, KEC, Archbishops and Bishops, our Chief Administrator Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti, the support of our partners and of course the unrelenting efforts of our staff at Kenya Episcopal Conference-Catholic Secretariat.

Our Bishops launched the new Strategic Plan 2009-2013 in February this year. At the same time, we articulated our Vision, Mission Statement, core values and the Strategic roles of our national Secretariat.

As a result, in the last twelve months, we have managed to achieve reasonable levels in our programmatic work. In a special way I recognize and commend our KEC-Commissions and the various offices at the Secretariat for going that extra mile towards the success of our programmes and strategies in general. These include Education and Religious Education Commission, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Health Commission of Kenya, Development and Social Services/Caritas Kenya, Pastoral, Lay Apostolate and Family Life Commission, Social Communications Commission, Finance Commission and Liturgy Commission.

Others are; Commission for Doctrine, Seminary Episcopal Commission, Commission for Missions (PMS), Commission for Religious & Clergy – Liaison Committee, Commission for Ecumenism, Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Commission for Refugees, Migrants & Sea Farers, and the two Non- Commissions: Canon Law National Office; Apostolate to the Nomads (A.N.A).

Our heartfelt gratitude extend to our Arch/Bishops individually and collectively for their immense wisdom and guidance in our work. I commend in a special way His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, Chairman Kenya Episcopal Conference, Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti, the Vice Chairman of KEC, and the Chief Administrator of the Catholic Secretariat and the Arch/bishops Chairmen of various KEC Commissions for their availability in providing support to our programmes, and the welfare of our staff and guiding us on our Mission and Mandate.

We appreciate the universality of the Catholic Church and communion with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father is represented in Kenya by His Excellency Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin. We are most obliged to humbly recognize the loving and selfless effort of His Excellency in offering the linkage with the Holy See and personally being present with our Bishops in this journey of faith. We register our sincere gratitude to him.

Our institutions were commendable and continue to thrive including St. Luke’s School of Nursing, Radio Waumini, Ukweli Video, The National Shrine Subukia, our Seminaries, CISRET, Mji Wa Furaha, with the National Shrine continuing to attract thousands of pilgrims each year. Our seminaries, institutions of higher learning, et al and organizations including Religious Superiors Conference of Kenya (RSCK), Association of Sisterhood of Kenya (AOSK), Kenya Diocesan Priests Association among others, offered us beautiful collaboration, a fact that enabled us achieve a lot as laid down in our work plans and strategic direction.

May I take this chance to sincerely recognize the great work and devotion of the immediate/outgoing Chairman of RSCK Fr. Patrick Devine, SMA. He recently, after a successful two terms stint in office passed the mantle to Fr. Adilleta. Fr. Devine was instrumental to the process of establishing very close collaboration between Kenya Episcopal Conference and the men and Women Religious through RSCK and AOSK. This gave a base to a very efficient Liaison Committee currently Chaired by Bishop David Kamau and deputized by Bishop Patrick Harrington. This Liaison Committee whose National Secretary is Sr. Tecla Chepng’eno has worked towards closer collaboration which has born fruits of good mutual relations. We commend Fr. Devine and the peace initiatives he is undertaking through Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation.

I am grateful for the financial and morale support of our partners, among others the Apostolic Nunciature, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Misereor, Missio (Munich), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), CAFOD, Trocaire and the Kenyan Government. Several organizations partnered with KEC-Catholic Secretariat and we may not exhaust the list.

It is important to specifically mention the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed mid this year between the Kenya Episcopal Conference-Catholic Secretariat and the Catholic Relief Services that will see both institutions enhance closer working relations. We are grateful for the support received from the past and present leadership of CRS in Kenya. Once more, as I congratulate and welcome Pulickal Mathai Jose, the new Country Representative (CRS), may I wish the immediate former representative, Ken MacLean, all the best in his new endeavours.

At the same time, Kenya Episcopal Conference, together with the Supreme Council of Muslims in Kenya (SUPKEM) and Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), signed another MoU with the Kenya Government through the Ministries of Public health/Sanitation and Medical Services. Through this MoU the Government will collaboratively supplement efforts of our mission health facilities, adding value in our health services delivery to the public.

In addition, we have been working with our brothers and sisters from other faiths in the spirit of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, among others NCCK, and the Ufungamano Joint Forum of Religious Leaders which brings together all Faiths as stakeholders.

Year 2009 also witnessed historic moments, including the appointment and ordination of Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kung’u of Murang’a, and Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru of Embu. We thank God for the gift of these two shepherds and offer them our prayerful best wishes. However, we also lost Bishop Francis Baldacchino of Malindi, who passed away while receiving medical attention in Malta, his place of birth, where he was also buried. May God rest his soul in Peace!

It is during this year that the universal church held the 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops in Rome from 4th to 25th October 2009 under the theme: “The church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace: “you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world (Mt 5:13, 14)”. Kenya Episcopal Conference was represented by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, who is the chairman of Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC), Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu, Most Rev. Boniface Lele of Mombasa, Most Rev. Peter Kairo of Nyeri, Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva of Machakos and Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti of Kakamega, who is also the Vice Chairman of KEC. This delegation to Rome was supported and facilitated by a four member technical team including Fr. Vincent Wambugu (Secretary General, KEC), Mrs. Jane Marine, the National Executive Secretary for the Catholic justice and peace Commission, Fr. Martin Wanyoike the National Executive Secretary (Social Communications) and Fr. Paulino Mondo (Theologian).

As we await the fruits of the synod through the Exhortation of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, it is important that we heed his message at the conclusion of the Synod: “Get on your feet Africa!” This message, together with the message of the Synod Fathers to the people of God could not have come at a more crucial time for Kenya than now. We are grappling with various topical issues including environmental conservation, issues threatening the institution of the family, human rights, and above all, efforts to get a new constitution as key in the reform agenda.

On the new constitution, may I implore all Kenyans to make their contribution; by first of all, reading the harmonized draft Constitution, and those who can, let them assist others in understanding this essential draft to do so, in order to make informed choices.

As the window of opportunity for the public debate on the same goes on, I urge every Kenyan to actively and constructively participate.

As we welcome the year 2010, we, at the secretariat are full of hope. Our role as the Catholic Secretariat is clearer than ever, guided by our Vision, and Mission, Core Values and the Strategic Plan 2009-2013. We have our harmonized 2010 work plans ready, and a common calendar of events in place. We look forward to enhanced cooperation within and without the secretariat in the new year.

It is now my deepest joy to send most cordial Christmas greetings to His Excellency Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, Apostolic Nuncio; His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, Chairman KEC; our Chief Administrator, Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti; All our Archbishops and Bishops, our clergy, Men and Women Religious, all Christ’s faithful and all people of good will. In a special way, we extend our Christmas greetings to all our staff at the KEC-Catholic Secretariat and all KEC Institutions.

To all of you, may you have a joy filled Christmas season and a prosperous new Year 2010.

Very Rev. Fr. Vincent Wambugu

December 2009

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