Over 1.2 billion Catholics from across the world Monday celebrated the fourth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Pope Francis, among them 13.5 million Kenyans.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta was among the hundreds of Kenyan Catholics who congregated at the “House of the Holy father” in Nairobi, the Apostolic Nunciature, to celebrate the anniversary alongside representatives from 26 dioceses of the church.
The Catholics were also joined by members of the Diplomatic Corps, UN bodies, ambassadors and High Commissioners during the celebrations also attended by the Head of the Catholic church in Kenya John Cardinal Njue, the President of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Philip Anyolo and former Vice President Moody Awori .
Others at the celebrations included Catholic religious leaders at all levels including priests lay leaders and friends of the church.
In her short message of goodwill to the wider Catholic congregation, the First Lady conveyed the highest regards and best wishes and God’s blessings to Pope Francis who visited Kenya in November 2015 during his maiden visit to Africa.
“This is a significant occasion. I join you and the wider catholic congregation in celebrating this event and convey my humble highest regards, best wishes and God’s blessing to His Holiness Pope Francis”
During the historic visit to Kenya, Pope Francis, who is recognized all over the world for his humility and simplicity was highly hailed by Kenyans for his message of peace, harmony, reconciliation and dialogue.
The Catholic Church in Kenya is part of the worldwide body of Catholic faithful under the spiritual leadership of the Kenya Conference of Catholic (KCC) bishops and the Pope.
It is the world’s largest Christian church and the largest religious grouping. The Church is represented in over 100 missions all over the world.
Archbishop Charles D. Balvo, the Apostolic Nuncio is the Pope’s representative in Kenya. Mathioya MP Clement Wambugu, the chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast Group, represented the Government at the celebrations.
The Apostolic Nunciature in Nairobi is regarded as the Embassy of the Pope and the mission covers both Kenya and South Sudan
The anniversary of the election of the Pope is a moveable date depending on the date the sitting Head of Vatican was elected. Pope Francis assumed office on March 13, 2013.
Bishop Anyolo enumerated the many humanitarian activities the Catholic Church undertakes in Kenya including health, refugee welfare and education.
He said the church manages 57 hospitals and 329 dispensaries across the country especially amongst low income and vulnerable populations and sponsors 27 and 32 per cent of the primary and secondary schools respectively.
Others who addressed the celebrations included Archbishop Balvo and Mr Wambugu.