The Celibacy Debate

whatsapp-image-2019-02-25-at-16.15.41.jpegThe meeting of the representatives of the Episcopal  Conferences from all over the world  with Pope Francis in Rome,  on the issue of sexual abuse of children and the vulnerable that has painted the Church in bad light, has just concluded. This unprecedented move by the Pontiff has been both bold and timely.

It is not the first time that the Church has come up to acknowledge the wrongdoing by some of its high officials.  In 1633, Galileo Galilei was put under the dreaded inquisition and condemned for promoting the idea of heliocentricism.  in 1992, 359 years later the Church through Pope John Paul II,  apologized for having,  through ignorance of the findings of the founder of the modern science that it is indeed the earth that moves round the sun and not the contrary.

The cases of child abuse, some of which date as long back as 1960s, have been some of the challenges that the Church has been grappling with.

Some of those on whom the burden of responsibility falls squarely, the bishops, have been accused of either directly accused of the crime or of covering the cases.

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SVD Vocation Coordinator Fr. Geoffrey Ndung’u and Bro. Douglas SiImonetti, Brother’s Vocation Coordinator, at Burka, Arusha, comparing notes on recruitment of new candidates

The Church s the body of Christ whose parts are the baptized.  When a person is baptized he receives the grace to become part of the Church of Christ but it does not make him or her immune to selfish desires. The grace of God need collaboration by the baptized in order to work in his life.

The abuse of children and the vulnerable members of the society whether sexually or others, either by the clergy of a lay person is to be condemned by all the strictness possible. However, Though the vice is not a monopoly of some clergymen, because this also is happening within the family set up,  the responsibility assumed by the former makes these accusations more grievous that when committed by the later.

It will be unwise though to start the finger-pointing game on who is better or worse that the other when it comes to abuses. what the Church has done, through its highest leadership, is to call a spade a spade and make apologies if needed and work out  amendments moving onward. The Church as the body of Christ remains Holy and authoritative in matters morality first towards its members and then to all who would listen objectively. This is because the errors and sins committed by some of its members does not mean that the Church in itself is in jeopardy.

A few days I was talking to a friend of mine who does not subscribe to any institutionalized religion and she argued that the Church is guilty of double standards and it has no authority whatsoever to  dictate to everyone in the world on matters morality. I told him as far as I know, the Church does not dictate morality to anyone but rather plays its prophetic role of preaching the Word of God following the footsteps of the apostles who received this command from Jesus himself.

But there are many people in the world who thinks the same as my friend, that the Church wrongly thinks of itself as the standard measures of what is morally right or wrong.

Back to our meeting of reference, the Vatican has announced that from now on, their will be no cover-up of these crimes and there will be preventive strategies and measures in place. I think this is a much better move than engaging in endless debate of whether the issue of celibacy has anything to do with these crimes. Celibacy is a way of life just like any other way of life. In Moral terms we may call it a fundamental option that someone takes in his right mind and freedom. Celibacy was proposed for clerical and religious life as a means of complete self-giving to a cause. Jesus explains this in Mathew 19:10-12 “(His) disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept (this) word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

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In my opinion, I do not think that being celibate is what makes someone a child sex predator. I explain. Whether a person has got behaviour issues when growing up because of many factors, or whether he or she has picked bad manners at a certain stage of his life , it does not matter what he or she chooses to become in life, this behaviour, unless it is worked on, it will always follow him or her. There is a Swahili, saying that one fly can spoil the who pot of soup. This is what is called collective responsibility.

Now, the Church has dared to catch the bull by its head. This in my opinion is the best move. There are many good things that the Church through it good members, whether lay of clergy is doing to make better the lives of the children, the vulnerable and the less privileged. Let us not get discouraged by the errors that are bound to come. This calls us all to humility and recognition that we all need the mercy and the grace of God.

The Church still needs more men and women who want to consecrate their lives to the service of humanity totally through religious and clerical life. We encourage the youth to focus on the good things and not to be discouraged by the evil that is always roaring like a hungry lion waiting to devour  someone.

The formation programs for religious and clergy need also to be revised and more proactive measures be put. It all goes well or bad in the beginning. If the preparation if not good enough, the product will definitely be also not good enough.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD



The Sorrowful Mysteries by Koech Evans


Koech At pains to accept the plan, Is really possible he can. To bear the pain God grants, He agonizes in the garden.

Feeling the pain of scourging, more of the pain encroaching. With the superiors coaching, soldiers perform without couching, Son of Man comforted by a pillar.

Son of Man of all the crown, fitted instead of golden crown. This time with thorns brown, feeling the pain deep down, Jesus crowned with the thorns.

sins of man heavy on shoulder, no one can carry such a boulder. Simon offers his shoulder, mom looking heart colder, feeling pain as she wonders.

Son of man on the Cross, even the sun eyes close. with the mom standing close, seeing the son eyes close, Jesus dies on the cross.


Sunday Mass in Soweto with Fr. General

The Parishoners of Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish, Soweto, Nairobi were in a celebratory atmosphere as they welcomed Fr. Paulus Budi Kleden SVD, the Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word when he visited the parish community on Sunday, 17th February 2019. Fr. Kleden presided over a very lively celebration of the Holy Eucharist which was con-celebrated by a number confreres from SVD Nairobi District and other guest priests.

Led by the choir, the whole liturgy was full of song and dance and both the priests and the congregation could not resist raising to their feet to dance to beautiful music. The altar boys and liturgical dancers were not left behind either with their matching uniforms.

In his very inspiring homily, Fr. General urged the Christians to always trust in God, and to cultivate a strong community spirit just like our Founder, St. Arnold Janssen did in his days. He was humbled by the many gifts presented to him by various Small Christian Communities and Devotional groups of the parish, at the end of the Mass.

After the mass, Fr. General, accompanied by the Provincial Superior Fr. Tony Amissah and other confreres together with the parishioners, planted a tree to mark the memorable visit.

We would like to thank Fr. Leon Ipoma SVD, Bro. Lawrence Kibaara SVD, and Bro. Anthony Nguyen Van Khoat SVD, our confreres working in the mission, together with  the parish pastoral council who meticulously planned the entire visit by Superior General.

We cannot also forget the entire congregation of Sts. Joachim and Ann parish for their generosity during this maiden visit. It was indeed a moment to cherish for Fr. Kleden himself as well as for the people of Soweto.

After the Eucharist, Fr. General, the confreres, the sisters shared sumptuous lunch in the parish house.

Fr. Amaldoss Rethinasamy, SVD


A Visit by the SVD Superior General in Kenya-Tanzania Province

With Fr. Samy on arrival at JKIA Nairobi

On 12 February 2019, the Superior General of the Divine Word Missionaries SVD) Rev. Fr. Paulus Budi Kleden landed in Nairobi from Uganda, where he had gone to visit our confreres working with the refugees from South Sudan. The confreres left the mission in Yei Diocese after the fighters displaced the residents and occupied our mission house.

After visiting some of our houses in Nairobi, he crossed the border to Tanzania on the following morning 13 February 2019, where he visited the confreres working in the Archdiocese of Arusha. In his brief conversation with the confreres, Fr. General said that the trip to Ken-Tan province was his third outside Rome since he was elected into office last year.

Meeting the confreres in the district at the Holy Trinity Parish elect in Morombo, the Superior General shared briefly on the role of SVD in the Church and the in world today. He said that the Church is expecting a lot from us the Divine Word Missionaries especially in the Biblical Apostolate which is one of our 4 major Characteristics.

With Confreres on arrival in Arusha-Tanzania

He said that SVD confreres are now working in 82, down from 84 countries because we had to withdraw from South Sudan due to conflicts and from Venezuela due to visa related problems. He added that the number of the confreres working all over the world continues to be steady around 6000 (the last count was 5998). he also noted that the vocations in AFRAM zone (Africa and Madagascar) are increasing and are almost at par with the PANAM zone (Americas) at 8.1% and 9.1% respectively

Meeting with Confreres in Arusha

He added that the AFRAM zone needed to invest more on formation of confreres especially the initial formation. The formation programme, he added, needed to be a “formation for mission” and not just to produce priests to celebrate mass. The formadees need to be involved in the real mission situations during their training. This means that the provinces has to invest in the training of quality full time formators. Formation he said is among the three key priorities of the Generalate during this sexennial, the other two being, spiritual animation and the promoting lay partnership.

He also talked about “interculturality” as one of our major identities in the Church and in the world. He added that this has caught the attention of the other religious congregations. Just Recently, the SVD confreres were requested to facilitate a workshop on “interculturality”, organized by all the Female Religious Congregations in the world. The spirit of cultural tolerance and sharing is important for the human society. This has to be cultivated in our formation houses but even more to the confreres already working in the mission. He noted that it appeared that the formadees enjoy “Interculturality” but the confreres in the mission find it a challenge. It is the priority of the Church as a whole to promote harmony within the human family. He said that he is proud that this spirit of “interculturality” has become part of our history and heritage as a Society because it was not the case from the beginning.  There were rather mission territories for missionaries coming from different countries in Europe.

At St. Arnold School and Njiro SVD land in Arusha

About the limitation of personnel in our province, he said that every year the entire society is getting about 100 new confreres. These are supposed to be distributed among all the provinces in the world. He noted also that we have many confreres asking to be transferred from their first mission destinations every year because of various reasons. He urged the provincial leadership to ensure favourable atmosphere for confreres, so that they do not result to transferring because of minor issues. He advised that the Common Formation Centers in AFRAM zone be open to confreres outside AFRAM zone to train. This will facilitate in making of choices for their mission destination and as a result, more would be willing to remain in the province. The Generalate, he said, considers as a priority the choices of the confreres when assigning them for the first mission.  Fr. Seraphim, the provincial of Togo, who accompanied Fr. General from Nairobi, added that, he being a product of OTP, he realizes the need to send students for it, since it prepares the confreres better for the mission afterwards.

During the Mass with Friends of SVD in Arusha

After the meeting with the Confreres, Fr. general and the confreres had lunch together and then proceeded to visit the SVD land in Njiro where we are intending to establish Seminary. Later on, they gathered at Burka Parish for mass and dinner, together with the Friends of SVD from our three parishes in the City.

In his homily Fr. General reflected on the day’s Gospel (Mark 7:14-23) where Jesus says that “it is not what comes from outside that make us unclean but what comes from inside”.  He added that, “it is also not what comes from outside that make us holy but what comes from inside”.  Reflecting on the word of God is what nourishes us spiritually.  However, it is not only about coming together to pray, sing, and dance but also recognizing and helping those in need. He urged all to live as one people united in friendship. Our lay partners are very important to our mission.

Celebration with Friends of SVD in Arusha

He also thanked the members of the Lay group for their willingness to be part of Arnoldus family and indeed for their prayers and support especially towards those in formation.

After the Eucharist, all gathered in the parish hall for dinner. The friends of SVD presented a trophy and a carved Giraffe to mark the historical visit to Tanzania.

In Simanjiro Maasai Home with Confreres

Immediately after dinner, Fr. General together with someconfreres left for the mission in the Maasai land, 100 KM from Arusha City. On the following day, he met the parish leaders and visited some Maasai homes. On their way back to Arusha they got a flat tire and they had to wait for long to get help because the spare tire had low pressure and there was very little mobile network. Finally, Fr. Albert Fuchs arrived from Simanjiro and they were able to change the tire. They arrived in Arusha at around 3:00 p.m. and together with the confreres in Arusha had lunch in Joseph the Worker parish in Olasiti. Later the set on their journey back to Nairobi after 5:00 p.m.  Later Fr. General will visit our mission in Eldoret district before.

Fixing the tire on the way from Simanjiro

We were indeed blessed by this maiden visit by our Superior General. It gave all of us a deep feeling of togetherness as a society. The presence of the General made us feel united with all the other confreres working all over the world. May the Almighty God continue to strengthen him during his ministry as the leader of our Congregation.

In Olasiti Parish with Confreres

May the Word of God be proclaimed everywhere and to Everyone

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

The Beginnings of the SVD Mission in Kenya, By Brother Karl Schaarschmidt


Brother Karl with John Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi

Beginning of starting

a New Mission.

It was in 1984 when the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) Generalate decided to open a new mission in Kenya a country in East Africa. Three confreres namely Fr. Tony Rebello from India, who was born in Kenya and was working in Zambia, Fr Mike Egan from Ireland and myself from Germany, were assigned to the new mission.When we arrived we were invited by the then Archbishop of Nairobi His Eminence Maurice Cardinal Otunga, to start a parish in Kayole situated in the Eastern outskirts of Nairobi City. We also got another invitation by the then Bishop of Meru Diocese, Bishop Silas Njiro, to start a new mission in Galba Tulla.


Present Kayole Parish

I arrived in April 1985, and I was sent to help build the infrastructure for our new mission Stations. We were first staying with the Holy Cross fathers in Dandora parish. Fr. Rebello, who was the mission leader, and myself, went to start a mission in Garba Tulla an outstation Isiolo Diocese that was then part of Meru Diocese.  Fr. Mike Egan remained in Nairobi. Garba Tulla is located 120 km from Isiolo town; the roads were very bad especially during the rainy season, which made it extremely difficult to access the mission.

Bro. Andre Hotchkiss from the United States of America arrived in August 1985 and was assigned to Garba Tulla. At that time, we had a small house with three rooms, a toilet and shower, but with no running water and no power.  We had an open round shed for a chapel.

 The Inhabitants

The inhabitants of Garba Tulla were the Borana people who were a nomadic tribe and 100% Moslems by faith.  A few District Administration employees were Catholics. There was also a national Secondary school build by German Protestant organization where there were some Catholics students. There was also a Methodist orphanage and a Government Health Clinic.

History of GT.

The area where our mission was situated lived a mixture of Borana and Somali people who had tried to separate from Kenya, but the Kenyan army thwarted this.  The Somalis escaped to Somalia and local Borana inhabitant were put into camps. Many lost all their animals and became poor. Many men were killed leaving the women and children without animals or food.

The Catholic Mission had started a feeding program for children, supported by “Canadian save the children fund.” Br. Andre started an “animal restocking program”; each family got two female one male cows. Fr. Mike and I went for a 3 month Swahili Language Course in Tanzania with Marynoll Fathers. During that time, we bought a house in Gigiri Nairobi from the Jesuit Fathers.

Fr. Mike continued his language classes in Nairobi.  I had forgot most the little Swahili I had learnt because in Garba Tulla the spoken language was mostly Boran. My main job was to establish the mission station, secure water supply, put solar powered electricity and rebuild a teacher’s house, classrooms and a Convent for the FMM Sisters who arrived in mid-1986 to take care of women and girls, teach catechism in secondary School and start a Kindergarten.

Community life

We conducted our daily Morning Prayer and mass together with the sisters in their chapel. We conducted Sunday mass out in the open with the Catholic community in the little town of Garba Tulla.  Fr. Tony was very active and enthusiastic to get the Borana people into the church. He had established a children’s choir and went on Saturday evening to the villages to sing and preach. He used to tell the mothers whose children were in the feeding program, that “if we feed you children, then you should also come to Church; otherwise you take them and feed them yourself”. Therefore, every Sunday, more and more people came to Church and the soon it was fully packed. Even some Moslem girls became the altar servers.

By that time, we had established three outstations in the surrounded villages. We started to build a primary school that started as a Catholic School, and as such no madrasa classes. Those who wanted Islamic teaching had go to other schools, since there were many others schools around.

We started a polytechnic for boys where they learnt carpentry, masonry, mechanical repair, welding and electric installations. We made different things for the local people such as beds, stools, solar cookers and donkey carts, as well as help the locals build houses, with the hollow blocks and Cement roof tiles that we made in the Centre.

For the girls, the sisters gave sewing classes, uniform and dressmaking, knitting and making pullover for the schools, and batik technics for cloth. The two communities joined together for prayers and meetings and on Sundays we had meals together, alternately in the sister’s house and our house.

There were many activities but little pastoral work like in other parishes in Nairobi. No baptism, weddings, funerals, but only Sunday mass, and some catechism classes in the secondary school. This is one of the reasons why many young priests who were assigned to the mission were not able stay there for long time. Therefore, there was constant coming and going of priests, something that was not very good to our SVD community.

Then there was the issue of insecurity from the so-called “shifters” who did highway robbery and overran the village to steal.  These were in constant cat and mouse game with the police. Coming and going to GT had to be with police escort.  The shifters attacked me several times, as I had to supply the mission with material and food.

Another problem was the overzealous leader in of our SVD community. He wanted to have as many children in the feeding program as possible, but they had not been registered with the feeding organization. So he used to spend our community budget money to buy food for the children.  Since he was already 3 years in the mission in Zambia, he went on home leave from GT after 2 years. In his absence, we decided in our team meeting that, instead cooking the food in the mission, we would rather give it to the mothers and have them cook for all of us. This worked very well, but by the time Fr. Tony came back from home leave, there were not as many children in the mission as before.  From that time on, the situation in our Mission went sour with tension and the community split.

A general councilor was ask to see to the situation. When he came, he ask each one of us to write a letter to the General and explain our personal feelings about the situation in the mission.  Fr. Tony was ask to go to Rome to give his side of the story. He never came back to Kenya.  Fr. Larry Finnegan from Ireland replaced him. The situation became quite and we continued as before.

I was able to build a small chapel for the weekly masses and a pastoral center that housed the parish offices, a small Hall that had also a library for children.

Later on Fr. Larry was transferred to be the new parish priest in Kayole, because Fr. Mike Egan left. Fr. Dante from the Philippines and Fr. Leo Fernando were assigned to GT. Later, the GT parish was handed over to the new established Diocese of Isiolo and the SVD was given a parish on the other side of the diocese. In 1996, our province accepted a new mission in Dol dol in the Diocese of Nyeri. Since I had served in the GT mission for 11 years, I asked to be a member of the new mission in Dol dol. I was appointed the community preases, Fr. Stanislaw Roz was the parish priest and Fr. Eusebio Manangbao the ass. Parish priest.


An Italian Fidei Donum priest and a woman volunteer by the name Maria had started the Dol dol Mission, who had concentrated much on the Maasai children and had established dormitories in Dol dol and in two other outstations. This was because the Maasai children could not walk the long distances to the different schools, as well as the threat by the wild animals, mostly elephants that were plenty in the area.  There was also a team of Comboni sisters in the parish.

I had taken over the administration of the Mission and the sponsorship program, which I transferred from GT to Dol dol. I rebuilt and renovated the parish house, since it was not in good condition for us to stay. The Fidei Donum Priest had their personal apartments. I got two Brothers, my classmate and a retired Brother from Papua New Guinea to do the electric wiring. We had to install an overhead electrical line from the Mission to the water pump at the well in the valley. We used a Generator to run the pump and light the mission.


Dol dol Mission 2009

I also started a polytechnic inside the mission and a program to rebuild all the wooden buildings in the mission territory, which were had been destroyed by termites, with the help of the local chief and the people. I was not able to accomplish these projects because I was asked by the new Province administration to transfer to Soweto-Nairobi1999. Fr. Augustin Rodriguez and I were assigned to Soweto by then an outstation of Kayole parish.


                       Construction of Soweto Church                  Present Church Building

Since Soweto had only a Church Hall that build by Fr. Hermann Gasser, we had to reside in Kayole parish. We started a small primary school made of timber and iron sheets close to the Nairobi East sewer line as we thought of a proper school building.  We started with four classrooms as sourced for funding for the other classrooms. With time, we were able to build 16 classrooms together with the administration block. I also build the parish house.  Soweto was named a fully pledged parish by the then Archbishop of Nairobi Ndingi Mwana Nzeki.

It has been a wonderful experience for me from the humble beginnings of the mission in Kenya to what we have today.

Brother Karl Schaarschmidt










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