Bloomfield parish hosts bishop from Kenya - Catholic Courier

Bloomfield parish hosts bishop from Kenya

EAST BLOOMFIELD — In the church’s liturgical year, the weekend of June 12-13 was the feast of Corpus Christi — or the body and blood of Christ. During that weekend, parishioners at St. Bridget/St. Joseph Parish were able to see firsthand how Catholics all around the world belong to the body of Christ.

Bishop Martin Musonde from the Catholic Diocese of Machakos, Kenya, visited the parish that weekend and celebrated the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass with Father Peter Mandina, an extern priest who has for two years served as the parish’s sacramental minister.

Father Mandina is a priest of the Diocese of Machakos but had not met Bishop Musonde, who was ordained on June 3, 2003, while Father Mandina was in the Rochester Diocese. Bishop Musonde had planned to be in the United States to attend the June 25 50th-anniversary jubilee of a Maryknoll missionary , so he and Father Mandina decided to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and spend some time together.

“Peter and I never met in Africa; we had to meet in America. Thank you for taking good care of him, and I’m happy to be with you to be celebrating this Eucharist,” Bishop Musonde said to the congregation at the beginning of Mass June 12. “Thank all of you, and also for the welcome you gave Father Peter. I feel proud that he’s been able to minister to you.”

The bishop praised Father Peter for his work at St. Bridget/St. Joseph and chuckled as he told the congregation how he’d met one of the parishioners earlier in the week. Once the parishioner learned that he was speaking to Father Peter’s bishop, he appeared worried and asked if Bishop Musonde had come to take Father Peter away, to which the bishop responded, “no, I’m only coming for the father and the son to come together.”

The Mass closed with a Kenyan hymn — “Bwana Awabariki,” which means “may God grant you a blessing.” Afterwards, parishioners were invited to a reception with Bishop Musonde on the church lawn.

Bishop Musonde said he had met with Bishop Matthew H. Clark on June 11, and that the two bishops had talked about possible ways to help each other and cooperate more in the future.

“He’s a good man and we’re happy to know each other,” Bishop Musonde said of Bishop Clark.

Although many miles separate the Diocese of Rochester from the Diocese of Machakos, Bishop Musonde said he felt “very much at home” at St. Bridget/St. Joseph.

“Being a Catholic, once you step into a church … you are right at home,” he added.

Bishop Musonde noted that there are differences between his diocese and the Rochester Diocese, however. Disease and poverty often plague the people in Bishop Musonde’s diocese, which includes 110 priests and 50 parishes and is one of 28 dioceses in Kenya. Many of the parishes in his diocese are rural and each have dozens of outstations, which the priests must also minister to.

No matter what challenges face the people of his diocese, they continue to maintain a strong and vibrant faith, the bishop said. He urged parishioners at the Mass to remember the universal nature of the Catholic church — the body of Christ on earth.

“Continue to pray for us as we pray for you,” Bishop Musonde said.

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