Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Priestly Ordination

Newly Ordained Priests

The procession

The Bishop
On Friday, this past weekend I was invited by Sister Jane, one of the Sisters of Notre Dame, to her cousin's priestly ordination. I have never been to an ordination in the States, so I'm not sure how it compares, but in Kenya it's a very big deal. Sister Jane's cousin is now known as the Reverend Father Chris Mukakha Walfula. He was ordained this past weekend along with two other priests and two deacons.

The ordination took place at the Catholic parish of Sirisia in the town of Busia (about 2 hours from Malava). The celebration began with a mass led by the local bishop that lasted 5 hours long. Thousands of people from many towns and villages came to celebrate so the mass was held outdoors. Most of the people traveled many hours on foot just to get to the parish. Tents and chairs were put up for the soon-to-be priests along with distinguished guests, family, and friends. All others had to sit on the ground with only the trees to shade them from the hot sun. During the mass there was lots of dancing and singing, speeches were given, a lengthy homily, and, of course, the consecration of the body and blood of Christ. Even the Kenyan Boyscouts were there to ceremonially raise and lower the Kenyan flag.

Throughout the celebration the newly ordained priests and deacons were treated like celebrities. It seemed like they were constantly followed by their own paparazzi. There was a small crew of men with cameras and digital video equipment trying to capture every moment. The locals that could afford to have a camera were also taking pictures. Those that had cameras had the large, very simple, 35mm, point-and-shoot cameras that were very popular in the U.S. about 15 years ago. Except for the video crew, no one had a digital camera. When I took mine out to take these pictures I got many stares from adults and children. Although many didn't own them, the people seemed to be very familiar with the concept of how a digital camera took pictures. I wondered if it had everything to do with tourism. The people, especially the children, love to have their pictures taken so that they can see themselves on the small screen.

After the mass the singing and dancing continued for hours. Local musicians set up handmade instruments and played music for the crowds. Traditional Kenyan food was also served along with Coke and Fanta soda.

Local musicians playing handmade instruments.

Sister Jane who has been to many ordinations is very keen on what happens. She told me how it works. Many people get distracted by the dancing, the singing, and the musicians. Then when they finally make their way to the food line, it's very long and in many cases the food runs out before everyone has eaten. Knowing this we both headed straight for the food. We where nearly first in line and filled our plates fast with rice, beef, chicken, potatoes, ugali (maize meal porridge), and sukuma wiki (kale). As we sat and ate on plastic chairs in the shade we watched the line growing quickly. We both looked up from our plates, mouths full and chewing, when Sister Jane explained once again, "That's what happens when you go to dance!"
Newly Ordained Reverend Father Chris Mukakha Walfula celebrating his first mass.
The large crowd at the Rev. Father Chris' first celebrated mass.
Later on Sunday, we attended Sister Jane's cousin's first celebrated mass.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the details about the ordination. In general, how is going to Mass different in Africa, than here in the USA?