29 January 2013

Kenya: Catholic Seminary Marks Golden Jubilee

Nairobi — Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, situated at Lang'ata near Nairobi on January 28 marked its Golden Jubilee since its inception.

The Seminary, which to date has produced 1069 graduates in Theology and more than 1,000priests serving in and beyond Kenya and among them three Archbishops and eighteen bishops in the country, was founded by the Dominican Fathers on January 25, 1963.

The three archbishops include His Grace Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu Archdiocese and current Chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace, who was among the first 23 Philosophy students in 1963.

Other archbishops included The Rt Rev Peter Kairu of the Archdiocese of Nyeri and The Rt Rev Boniface Lele of Mombasa Archdiocese.

The grand ceremony, whose highlights were Eucharistic celebration, planting of trees and the cutting of the cake, was attended by most of the Bishops, scores of the clergy, religious men and women, parents of the clergy/seminarians and invited faithful.

In his homily, John Cardinal Njue hailed the Seminary for its contribution on the Catholic Church's growth in the country.

"Our bishops, and the Clergy in the Church are the products of this seminary; hence we congratulate it as it marks its Golden jubilee," said Cardinal Njue.

The Cardinal urged Kenyan people to remain united as they voted a new Government, come the March 4 General elections.

"Let us remain united and refrain from being divided by the forthcoming General Elections," he emphasized.

The theme of the celebrations was: Priestly Formation in the 21st Century.

Addressing the gathering as Guest Speaker, Archbishop Okoth said the Gospel of today presents us with the servant leadership of Christ.

He said, "True servant leadership of Christ must also challenge the political leadership of our country."

"We all know that the just concluded primaries were a sham across the board in all the political parties in our country. In these primaries many political aspirants and Kenyans in general were hurt, "the Archbishop further told the gathering.

"They need healing... They need true reconciliation," stressed Archbishop Okoth, adding... "To get true reconciliation one must ask for forgiveness."

This, added Archbishop Okoth, is the root of humanity that Christ talks about in the Gospel.

Primaries, he added, were shambolic because no proper civic education was given to the citizenry at the grassroots.

Archbishop Okoth described the Seminary as a great factory without smoke, which has been standing here for the last fifty years and has produced hundreds of priests for all the 27 catholic dioceses in the country and for the entire AMECEA (Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa) region as well.

"As we celebrate these fifty years by the grace of God, we also remember today all missionary and diocesan priests , Brothers and Sisters and the Kenyan lay folk who served in this great seminary with dedication and diligence , but have died , marked with a sign of faith for their sacrifice and their contribution," said Archbishop Okoth.

The ceremony coincided with the feast of St Thomas Aquinas.

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