Kisumu’s Archbishop-designate Rev Philip Anyolo on Friday told Catholic faithful to unite and defend the church against interference, which he warned could tear it down.
Rev Anyolo, who will be installed as the Archbishop of Kisumu Saturday, used his farewell mass in Homa Bay County to preach togetherness among the congregation, saying it will would provide a good opportunity for spiritual leaders to serve and undertake their evangelism roles effectively.
“I appeal for continuous unity (in the Diocese of Homa Bay) because this will ensure everybody discharges their roles without fear and interference,” he said during a farewell mass at St Paul Catholic Church in Homa Bay town yesterday. He told the Church to continue providing for the poor.
Last year in November, the then bishop of Homa Bay was appointed the Archbishop of Kisumu by Pope Francis.
The archbishop-designate, who is also the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), will be taking over from Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, who is set to retire.
Rev Anyolo, now the centre of attention among the Catholic faithful, assured them of support to ensure prosperity of the church.
“We need to continue doing the work of the Lord by touching the hearts of the poor. Being in Kisumu will not hinder me from serving the congregation in Homa Bay,” said Rev Anyolo.
In Kisumu, he vowed to continue building bridges for the sake of attaining a unified Church.
He promised to consult and work together with his predecessor, Archbishop Okoth, who served the metropolitan diocese since May 21, 1990.
“We want to thank God for him and for the work he has done as I plan to find out the legacy that he has laid down and make it the root of our faith here,” he said.
He said the unity should go beyond and across the walls and rivers so that the Catholic faithful unite as one.
The clergy spoke to hundreds of faithful who gathered at Nyakwere, the border of Kisumu and Homa Bay counties, for his symbolic handover.
He was received by Vicar General father Moses Omollo and thousands of faithful as he cut a tape at Nyakwere bridge before making an entry to his new station. “This is just a symbolic gesture and it is very important for our start here,” he said.
Rev Anyolo has served as a cleric for more than 35 years.
Today, he takes over as archbishop from retiring Archbishop Okoth, a veteran vocal cleric who often comments on issues of national politics.
Born on May 18, 1956 in Tongaren, Bungoma County, Rev Anyolo was ordained into priesthood in 1983, serving in the Eldoret Diocese.
He was appointed and installed as Homa Bay bishop in March 22, 2003, having moved from Kericho where he first became a bishop in 1996.
He was elected chairman of KCCB in October 2013, and is currently serving his second term.
He will be installed as the archbishop of Kisumu at Uzima University Grounds.
The event will be attended by Deputy President William Ruto, ODM Leader Raila Odinga, Kisumu Governor Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o among other dignitaries.
On Friday, he thanked the Homa Bay churches for what he termed as good support during his tenure.
The diocese leaders; Father Christopher Leso (Vicar General), Dalmas Odhiambo (Priest Council Chairman), Joseph Okeyo (Homa Bay Parish chairman) and Beatrice Ogolla (political representative) heaped praise on Rev Anyolo for what they described as his exemplary work.
They said Rev Anyolo’s steadfast in calling for peace and unity in the Church saw its membership grow.
“Homa Bay Catholic has grown because of Rev Anyolo. We will miss him,” said Mr Leso.
The congregation gave the clergy gifts as some kissed his hands and greeted him.
Rev Anyolo also blessed children.
During his departure, he changed from a white to a black robe and drove off in a small white Subaru as he waved to faithful.
His convoy drove through Homa Bay streets to Nyakwere in Rachuonyo North sub-county, where he met Catholic officials from Kisumu County.