Kenya Mission History
The Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria arrived in the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, in the North Western part of Kenya, on September 17th, 2015. Upon our arrival, we were assigned to a parish that had been abandoned over the years, due to the parish's isolated location and extremely difficult terrain. Our church, St Stephen Catholic Church Losajait is located in the rift valley of the Turkana desert. At the moment, the parish has 1 commissioned Catechist and 9 church assistants. The Parish has 13 outstations (sub churches). We cover a distance of 60 kilometers North-South and 80 kilometers East-West to access these substations.
Lodwar diocese is said to be the largest in term of landmass, and the poorest diocese in Kenya. It was occupied by the nomad tribe called Turkanas. The diocese is bound by the Diocese of Torit in South Sudan to the North, the Diocese of Moroto in Uganda to the west, the Diocese of Kibish in Ethiopia to the east and the Kenya dioceses of Baringo and Kitale to the south. The Diocese of Lodwar is what can be referred to as a "Mission Diocese". This is because over ninety percent (90%) of her pastoral agents are missionaries from various missionary congregations or institutes. Also the people here, unlike what we have in some other places, depend on the church for virtually all their entire needs, material and immaterial. Thus, the Church here hardly get any support from the locals. Consequently, various missionary institutes have resulted into seeking support from sources outside the diocese to enhance their apostolate. And over the years missionary institutes have contributed immensely to the development of the diocese through the construction of schools, churches, health facilities among others.
The pioneer members of the Missionary of St Paul to this mission were Revd Frs Benedict Samuel Umanna and Joseph Taye Ibiwoye MSP. However, due to ill heath, Fr Benedict was withdrawn from the mission on the 21st of October 2016. After about a year of Fr Benedict's withdrawal from the mission, precisely on the 22 nd of September 2017, Rev Fr Francis Sunday Akpomedaye MSP, arrived Lodwar to join Fr Joseph in the Mission.
Missionary Work in Kenya
Our work as a missionary congregation in Lodwar is basically pastoral. And since our arrival at our parish in Losajait, the parish has witnessed a lot of growth, material and immaterial. Parts of our achievements in the parish includes
- One, increase in response to spiritual activities: Over the year we have witnessed a great growth in the number of people administered to sacraments. Based on our records 167 have received the sacrament of Baptism, 102 to have received first Holy Communion and 205 have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Increase in the number of our outstations: Within the last 3 years of our arrival at Losajait parish, the number of our outstations churches have increased from 9 to 12 outstations, with about 3 new stations in view.
- Renovations and construction: A lot of our station church have been renovated, while the new one we are building is close to completion.
Some of the challenges we face include:
- As part from the pastoral care of the parish, we occasionally share foodstuffs. This to alleviate the reality of hunger among the poor nomads we minister to.
- Unlike we have at most urban parishes, our parishioners here depend on the church for virtually all their needs. And often time we are financially constrained to attend to these necessary needs.
- Also, 5 out of our 12 outstations are without a permanent church structure. We use classrooms as a place of worship in four stations, but we worship under the tree in one community. Also, 3 of those places with permanent structures are in need of massive renovation.
- Brothers working in this mission are not covered by any health insurance, as there is no form of any health insurance policy in place in the diocese.
- Our home is not cover by GSM network hence communication is not flexible sometimes, but with a VSAT being made available recently we can reach the outside world.
Prior to our arrival at Losajait parish, the pastoral life had witnessed a lot of setbacks. With our presence in the parish now, the narrative that has changed. We sincerely thank God for giving us the privilege to serve as missionaries to the Turkana people. We also thank the missionary society of St. Paul who gave us the privilege to serve. May God continue to bless the work of hands and make our labor fruitful.