“Human beings are created to praise, to revere and to serve God our Lord”. This year, on 1st of July, the church and especially the Jesuits of Eastern Africa witnessed a loving response by our brothers to God’s invitation. Deacons Augostine Ekeno, Benard Omondi and Martin Waweru were ordained to the priesthood as a means of living their purpose of creation.
The long expected day dawned to reality marked by glittering ambience which the parish of St. Joseph the worker had achieved. The parish apostolic groups such as, CWA, CMA, PMC, YMC and others responsibly gave of themselves for the occasion. This active participation revealed their disposed, thankful hearts for God’s favour on the ordinands. The relevant hymns skillfully and liturgically given by the choir crowned the gratitude. People of different walks of life both lay and religious turned up as observed by the ordaining prelate Rt. Rev. Bishop Rodrigo Mejia, SJ. The mass proceeded well with the Bishop’s homily and the ordination ritual being a striking moment for many. Bishop Mejia categorically elaborated the nature of the responsibility that the new priests would assume, characterized by the virtues of joy, alacrity and perseverance. For Jesuits, the expression of such virtues confirms one’s mission in life. The ordaining prelate confidently gave the message by narrowing it to the reality of his own experience of priesthood as a social worker besides other priestly duties. He emphasized that the menial life giving activities that they will be doing for the people of God, will define their priesthood. After the homily, the candidates for priesthood expressed their freedom in presenting Christ to the people through obedience to the bishops and their superiors.
With the disposition of submission to God, the whole congregation of the faithful and priests joined the heavenly court in ordaining our men. With the invocation of Saints and laying of hands, there was a vivid impression that these three Jesuits are chosen for a distinguished spiritual office. Of course, this moved some people to tears.
After the ordination rite, the faithful could not hide their joy for having three new priests. This gratitude could be read in the way Christians handled themselves for the remaining part of the mass. An indigenous kind of ‘ritual’ was performed by the Christians at the end of the mass with an aim of demonstrating the reality of the missionary vocation. This gesture strengthened the mission message by the Provincial to the ordinands to “take the gospel to the whole world”. The ritual characterized a boat and an oar which symbolized each priest’s ride across the waters. This implied that, none of the three priests was allowed, by this gesture, to remain in one’s ‘comfort zones’, but instead each was supposed to ride against ‘waters’ to reach the people of God.
We crowned the day with all sorts of refreshments, entertainments but most importantly with individual blessings from the new priests. The Christians of St. Joseph the worker and Christ the King were the first to participate in Eucharist celebrated by the new priest. We pray for our new priests through the intersession of Saints Martin, Benard and Augostine that they may overcome the waves by the waters.
Next, we pray and look forward to the ordination of our other four deacons this month. May God awaken in each of them a more loving response to what they have received. Amen
By Michael Kinaka, SJ