Newly-appointed Malindi Bishop Willybard Lagho will be installed in March, Mombasa Catholic Archbishop Martin Kivuva has said without specifying a date.
It is likely that only a few guests will attend the ceremony, with strict adherence to regulations for curbing the spread of Covid-19, while faithful will follow the event virtually.
Pope Francis on Monday appointed Fr Lagho to fill the vacancy that resulted from the death of Bishop Emanuel Barbara.
“We have held thanksgiving prayers for his appointment. We thank the Holy Father for appointing him,” Archbishop Kivuva said.
“The Malindi diocese has not had a bishop for three years since the death of Bishop Barbara on January 5, 2018. An administrator has been holding the fort. The three months will allow preparations and the handover.”
He congratulated the bishop-elect who had served as Mombasa Catholic Archdiocese Vicar-General for 12 years.
“Since I came to Mombasa five years ago, he has been my right-hand man. I am happy about his appointment. This is a blessing.”
Archbishop Kivuva urged young seminarians to selflessly serve God and the people.
On the Covid-19 pandemic, he asked Kenyans to protect themselves by strictly observing protocols including wearing masks, sanitising and physical distancing.
“As we prepare to reopen schools, we urge teachers and parents to ensure our children observe the guidelines. The disease is real; it has affected many of us,” he noted.
Fr Lagho thanked God and the public for standing by him.
“I have learnt a lot from [Archbishop Kivuva] and the late Archbishop Boniface Lele on church leadership. Archbishop Kivuva has been on the forefront of uniting religious leaders from different denominations, especially at the Coast, and peace-building as chairman of Mombasa church forum,” he said.
He added that he will meet the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics, which he served as chairman for six years.
Fr Lagho promised to serve according to religious teachings, diligently and humbly. He also said he will foster unity and ensure professionalism.
“We want unity among all denominations. Let’s not allow religious divisions. I want to serve according to God's teachings -- without discrimination,” he said.
“I will work with all religious leaders in all denominations and all the faithful. My work will also entail establishing the challenges affecting the Malindi diocese and resolving them. I have received a warm welcome from Hindus, Muslims and others.”
Regarding the virus, he advised the public to embrace the new normal, family unity and perseverance, and cut down on costs.
In his congratulatory message, Kisumu Archbishop Philip Anyolo said: “Together with you and the Church in Kenya, we thank God for His goodness to us. I know God is renewing and strengthening you with His goodness.”