Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Archbishop John Njanga of Mombasa: ‘no one can be a priest unless they are called by God’

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 4, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Archbishop John Njanga of Kenya (left) was in Spokane to help celebrate Father Patrick Baraza’s 25th anniversary of ordination to priesthood. (IR photo)

In 1982, when Father Patrick Baraza was ordained a priest, the ordaining bishop was Archbishop John Njanga, who later was named Archbishop of Mombasa. For the 25th anniversary of Father Baraza’s ordination, however, Archbishop Njanga, now Archbishop Emeritus of Mobasa, visited Spokane and took part in the celebration of the anniversary liturgy at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. “Being retired means I have the time to do this,” he said with a big smile.

Archbishop Njanga has visited the U.S. before, but this was his first visit to the Pacific Northwest. After visiting with both Bishop Skylstand, in Spokane, and Archbishop Alex Brunett, of Seattle, Archbishop Njanga quipped with happy laughter, “I have the idea that they are Catholics, anyway!”

Looking forward to his homily for Father Baraza’s anniversary liturgy, Archbishop Njanga said that he planned to speak about “the nobility of the priesthood, how the whole church cannot do without priests, and how the essence of our faith is based on the priesthood. Christ was the priest, and he ordained the apostles to continue to do his work, and no one can be a priest unless they are called by God.... (W)ithout the priest there is no Mass, and without the Mass the Church is void.”

Speaking of the church in his country, Archbishop Njenga said that one of its major characteristics is the presence in each parish of many smaller faith communities that gather once each week apart from the Sunday liturgy. “A group of men and women, families, get together once a week. There are not more than 10 families in each small community. They show that they are practicing their faith by coming to these gatherings during the week. They pray the rosary, and they share the Bible together, and they share their problems, and they pray together, and so on.”

In the typical parish there are between 25-50 small Christian communities, depending on the size of the parish, Archbishop Njenga said. “In my own home parish,” he said, “there are many, many more.”

On the occasion of Father Baraza’s 25th anniversary of ordination, Archbishop Njenga said, “I want to wish him all the best, and another 25 years at least. I would like him to celebrate 100!,” he laughed. “I advise him to keep on with the faith. The faith is so important. No matter what we do we must remain humble, we must remain subservient, we must do what Jesus told us – making other people happy and loving other people.”

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