MEMORIAL MASS FOR THE LATE REV. FR. PROF. FREDRICK MVUMBI, OP

MEMORIAL MASS FOR THE LATE REV. FR. PROF. FREDRICK MVUMBI, OP

THE MEMORIAL MASS FOR THE LATE REV. FR. PROF. FREDRICK MVUMBI, OP AT ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA, KITISURU ON 02ND MARCH 2020

On 2nd March 2019, a cloud of darkness, pain and  sorrow hung around this Church compound as  people with   heavy hearts were seen  talking in low tones and in tears  as news of the late  Rev. Fr. Prof. Fredrick Mvumbi,OP,  were broken to confreres and parishioners by the Vicar Provincial of Dominican Friars. This was because a confrere, friend, colleague, teacher, scholar and priest had passed on.  It was a day of mourning with great emotional loss. Though men and women of faith, we were broken heart and stood in need of God’s consoling grace.

Today on 2nd March 2020, we assemble in the same Church compound to mark 1st death anniversary. We are here to thank God for the gift of the life of the late Rev. Fr. Prof. Fredrick Mvumbi in our midst. We pray for repose of his soul and strengthening of the Family of Dominican Friars and entire Parish of St. Catherine of Siena. We mark this anniversary with humility as we remember the dedication of late Rev. Fr. Prof. Fredrick Mvumbi who:

  1. In his priestly ministry ( as minister of the Word and Sacraments, especially  the baptisms he administered, Confessions he heard, Holy Eucharist he celebrated   and marriages he officiated ) he sanctified the people of God.  
  2. In his scholarly work as a reputable professor in the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and Tangaza University College shared knowledge and empowered people especially the youth towards social transformation through education. We acknowledge time he spent to mentor students and write books.
  3. In the social life as a friend to the academia field and Christian families, associations and movements. He was friendly and approachable to all, compassionate and charitable to the poor and needy.

Rev. Fr. Prof. Fredrick Mvumbi, though physically gone, his spirit lives in our midst as we fondly remember his love of well-prepared homilies, class work and environment. He believed in ecumenism and Interreligious dialogue.

Brothers and sisters, death is a transitory stage in our earthly life that shows our mortal nature and dependency on God’s mercy. It calls us to grow in humility, faith and trust in God aware that this world is not our home.

In the 1st reading from the book of Job 19: 1, 23-27b, Job confesses his faith in the Resurrection and in God the Redeemer of the just who trust in Him.  He does not put his hope in materials or human power. He sees all as nothing without God. These words are echoed by the Psalmist in Psalm 23 who states that the Lord is Our Shepherd there is nothing we shall want. The Lord guides his people in the right path and walks them through the valley of death.

In the 2nd reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans 5: 5-11, We are invited to live in faith, hope and love. We are beneficiaries of God’s grace who sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us by dying on the cross. Through the death of Christ on the cross, we are made righteous. This is a pure gift from God, which we do not deserve due to our sinful human nature. By grace of God, the communion between God and man, and man to man is restored we are reconciled to God who is merciful, forgiving and gracious.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew 11: 25 -30, Jesus gives thanks to God for hiding these things to the wise and learned, and revealing them to the children. We are called to be true disciples despite our life challenges. Let us bear the yoke and follow the Lord for he will make our worries, fears, and burden light. Jesus  Christ the true teacher of prayer  and reconciliation is our role model of going God’s will. We are called to embrace repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and inner peace. We have a duty create a conducive environment for human development, deepening of our faith and promotion of human dignity.

By death the worries, fears and pain of late Rev. Fr. Prof. Fredrick Mvumbi ended. His smile, compassionate heart are no more. His death reminds us that our Christian life should be marked by being watchful and persistent in prayer.

During this Lenten season, let us pray for inner conversion, true spirit of penance, deep faith and open heart to help the poor and the needy.. Bless and illumine our mind lord that we may examine our past and present life, joyfully give alms to the poor as we strive to build a kingdom of peace, love and unity.  May God bless our country, our Church, Our families and direct our hearts and mind to the right path.

May God help us to plant good seeds during our earthly life that will continue to yield good fruits during and after our death. Let us become candles to dispel darkness in our communities and in lives of the people we touch. May St. Catherine of Siena, Patroness of our Parish intercede for us to become true witnesses of the Gospel.

Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May He rest in Peace.

Amen

Rev. Fr. Celestino Bundi Mutea

KCCB

A Vida Intellectual – ‘The Intellectual Life’

A Vida Intellectual – ‘The Intellectual Life’

The famous French Dominican philosopher of the early 20th century, Antonin Sertillange, published a work entitled “The Intellectual Life” in which he presented a practical guide to progress in scholarship.  Sertillange held that scholarship is natural.  Human beings have a natural vocation to the intellectual life.  All human beings have a need to develop their intelligence, to engage in study and to search for truth.  In this way they imitate God whose image in the human person includes the intellect.   The intellectual life searches for truth and so leads to God.  The fulfilment of this Christian vocation requires personal commitment to study, time spent in prayer, and participation in community life.

Sertillange held that the intellectual life involves virtue; one must love the truth.  Study that comes from virtue seeks above all union with God.   Virtue turns mere study into genuine pursuit of truth, with the end being the highest truth; God Himself.

Still, the intellectual life has other considerations, as well.  It requires physical health, as well.  As the saying goes, a healthy mind requires a healthy body.  The material goods of human nature are important, even though the intellectual goods have priority.  We share with animals physical goods, but it is the intellectual goods that distinguish us.  So when physical goods take priority over intellectual goods, the body becomes an enemy, not a friend, and the human person is diminished, for all physical goods have as their purpose to promote the intellectual goods.  Even sleep has as its purpose the production of ideas.

Intellectual pursuit means focusing on particular ideas, but never one idea to the exclusion of others, lest a certain prejudice develop by which one comes to see reality from a single point of view.   Following the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, the intellectual life requires information from various sources, all in pursuit of the one truth.  The nature of truth is that the search never ends.

Finally, the intellectual life requires us to be efficient in our study.  It is not enough simply to study.  We need the intellectual virtues that help us to understand and retain what we have learned.  Because all the virtues are connected, we need to practice all the virtues if we wish to study well.    Only then may we formulate our own thoughts and cheerfully give to others the fruits of our contemplation.

The Student Who Became a Papa

I arrived in Kenya on August 2, 2002. I hoped to teach at Tangaza College, where our brothers study theology, but, of course, it couldn’t happen that first semester, as classes were starting in two weeks.

Just to put my name in for future reference, I visited the College to introduce myself to the Director of Theology. As happens in all of our lives, a happy coincident occurred. (I know very well that it wasn’t a coincidence at all).

Two days before I walked into his office, the Director discovered that the Mariology lecturer would not be available that semester. So, two weeks after arriving in Kenya, I was in a classroom at Tangaza College.

I hope that God arranged this, at least, partially, for my students’ sake. I know for certain that teaching theology and eventually spirituality, philosophy, and even Latin has brought me tremendous graces and blessings. While I learned more than I taught, I hope my students learned something, as well.

The very experience of teaching sisters, brothers and future priests is more than rewarding. How many classrooms in the whole world are filled with students who are vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience – and follow regular schedules of prayer each day? Naturally, they are responsive! And, though I have only lived on two continents, I suspect that Africans may be the world’s most humorous people. And they are most respectful of elders!

I am always moved whenever I attend ordinations or priest’s funerals, as young priests remind me that I taught them in 2004 or 2010. They don’t seem to be too badly affected by the experience, although, perhaps, time heals wounds.

I am especially happy with our own Dominican friars, whom I once taught, as I see them doing good ministries and assuming responsibilities in our communities – and doing very well– even if the things they claim I said and did some years ago couldn’t possibly be true. Of course, I obey those former students who have become my superiors, such as our vicar provincial and the prior of our house. Imagine!

Often, at celebrations, I recognize young priests in the processions (naturally, some carry a few more kilos). I thank God that I have had a small part in their training. Their parents and families, those who formed them in their communities and many other lecturers have contributed much more. Still, I played a part, even if a minor one. Initially, I was touched when a priest informed me that whenever he is transferred, he always brings my notes with him – until he confessed that he never looks at them (this is technically known as “faint praise”).

Some former students are engaged in further studies and some are already lecturers. St. Thomas must have felt rewarded as his own students became teachers, as he remarks: “God governs thing that He makes some of them be causes of others in government; as a master who not only imparts knowledge to his pupils, but gives also the faculty of teaching others” (1a. 103, 7).

Some former students are in areas where there is great need. One former student told me that he is a chaplain in a refugee camp. Another creates schools in South Sudan, even though many schools have been demolished as a result of the civil strife. When I attended an ordination in Lodwar, one of the driest areas in Kenya, at least seven priests and a lay minister were former students and others may have been hiding.

Many of the former students serve the people in parishes, that is, they feed their people with the Word of God and enable them to encounter Christ in the Sacraments. Recently, I was moved during a conversation with a former student, now a parish priest, by all he was doing. I even thanked him. St. Thomas asserts: “The best kind of physician is not the one who devotes his attention to theory alone, but the one who can get down to cases; the same is true in other fields” (1a. 103, 7).

Some of my former students are sisters and brothers who are doing wonderful work. Some time I will put together more information about them.

Some of my students realized that God was calling them to serve Him as lay persons. Some of these use their knowledge and skills to help their parishes. Some are good husbands and fathers. Some have pursued studies in peace and development and contribute to make their countries better places.

Some former students have died in accidents. One student, Fr. Denis Carriere, a Quebec Missionary, whom I taught in 2003, died in Manchuria.

I would like to tell you about one former student in particular, Fr. Cosmas Omboto Ondari, a Mill Hill Missionary. I cannot say that I played a significant role in Fr. Cosmas’s life, although I taught him Mariology and Latin.

For some curious reason, I had saved some old assignments and came across them recently. The assignments were supposed to be anonymous but a few added their names, including Cosmas Ondari. He wrote:

Given that the rosary is a summary of the key moments of Jesus and Mary in fulfilling the plan of salvation, I usually reflect on these events and they inspire me. I also pray that through Mary, I may always stand firm in my life to live a holy and focused life in order to fulfil God’s will for me as a Christian.

I will share with you the story of Fr. Cosmas, through the words of Bishop Andrew Nkea, Bishop of Mamfe, in Cameroon, which he wrote on November 23, 2018:

“At about 3.00 pm local time, on Wednesday the 21st of November, 2018, Rev. Fr. Cosmas Omboto Ondari, a Mill Hill Missionary, who was in front of the Church of the Parish of St. Martin of Tours, Kembong, was shot and killed on the spot in cold blood.

Fr. Cosmas Ondari was the Parochial Vicar of the St. Martin of Tours Parish in Kembong since April 2017.

Bom in Gucha, in Kenya on the 19th of September 1985, Fr. Ondari joined the Missionary Society of St. Joseph, otherwise known as the Mill Hill Missionaries

He did his studies in Theology in the Tangaza University College in Nairobi. Upon completion of his studies, he was ordained on the 26th of March 2017.

In April 2017, the Superiors of the Mill Hill Society appointed Fr. Ondari to Mamfe Diocese where he was then posted to the St. Martin of Tours Parish, Kembong as his first appointment, and which turned out to be his last appointment as a priest.

Already in December, 2017, when the security situation in Kembong was very tense, Fr. Ondari and his Parish Priest Fr. Tiberius Vouni, MHM, alongside with some of their parishioners, moved out from Kembong to Mamfe. The village of more than 5000 people was almost completely abandoned and many houses were burnt down.

In April, 2018, in a bid to give hope to the desperate population, many of whom were living in the bushes in horrendous conditions, Fr. Ondari and his Parish Priest courageously opted to go back to Kembong so as to encourage the people to return. Some of the people with whom they ran to Mamfe went back and sought refuge in the closed down premises of the Catholic School in Kembong.

It was in this context that Fr. Ondari was brutally and recklessly murdered on the 21st of November, 2018. Eye Witness accounts say that he was killed by Government Soldiers (Gendarmarie Nationale), who were shooting at random from their passing vehicle.

I visited Kembong Parish on Thursday the 22nd of November, 2018, and I personally counted 21 bullet holes made on the Church building of Kembong where at the time, the priest, the Catechist and many Christians were carrying out various activities in the Mission compound.

The blood of the murdered priest was still clearly seen on the cemented entrance to the Church just at the door. He died right in the house of God and it is our prayer that the God whom he served so well will welcome him into his eternal kingdom.

May the soul of Fr. Cosmas Omboto Ondari, rest in Perfect Peace.

+ Andrew Nkea, bishop of Mamfe”

A few days later, at the close of a requiem Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the Adams area of Nairobi, a large procession of priests filed by Fr. Cosmas’ coffin. Some priests blessed Fr. Cosmas and some blessed themselves. I asked Fr. Cosmas to bless me.

Bishop Andrew told us that an eighty-year old man in the church in Kembong told him, “We have lost our papa.” Bishop Andrew simply said, “He has done his work. He was a papa.”

Denis Vincent Wiseman, O.P.

Thirty Second Sunday – C

Many people have an instinct that life must continue after death. When someone dies, you often hear people who don’t have any connection with a particular faith say things such as, “She is with her parents” or He is with his wife” or “Now, he is at peace.”  The unspoken belief is that the person continues to exist although no one explains what they mean. Maybe, it’s a sense that the lives of good people should go on.

In Africa, those who die are buried on the family compounds. Traditionally, it was believed that the dead take on a new way of being as spirits. These spirits are watchful over their families and do good things for them. Customary before drinking something, a person pours the first sips on the ground as a libation for the ancestors.

The early Israelites thought the dead took on a shadow-like existence in Sheol. Belief in the Resurrection of the Body gradually developed among the Jews. The Sadducees considered only the oldest five books to be Scripture. They did not accept the Resurrection. The Pharisees believed in the Resurrection of the body, which is found n the later books of the Old Testament.

Today’s first reading is from the Second Book of Maccabees, a later book of the Bible. The Syrians occupied Judea and tried to suppress the Jewish religion with its customs such as not eating pork. The seven brothers and their mother are not afraid to die because they hope in the Resurrection of the Body.

In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees try to trap Jesus by posing a complicated situation which was intended to ridicule the idea of the resurrection of the body. Deuteronomy 25:5 legislated that, if a man died childless, his brother should marry the man’s widow in order to raise up descendants for him. The Sadducees presented a case where a woman who married seven brothers in succession, without any offspring. Whose wife would she be at the resurrection of the body?

Jesus cleverly referred them to a passage in the book of Exodus, one of the books that the Sadducees accepted. God tells Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Ex 3:6). God spoke in the present not the past. Jesus declares: “God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for Him” (Lk 20:38).

We may not think of the Resurrection of the body very often. The early Christians were very conscious of the resurrection of the body. Paul refers to it frequently in his letters. An important text is the fifteenth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians. Both the Apostles’ Creed (late 2nd century) and the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (325-381), proclaimed in the Sunday liturgy, affirm, “I believe in the Resurrection of the Body.”

St. Thomas Aquinas reflects the association of the general resurrection of the body with Christ’s Resurrection:

He chose both to die and to rise. He chose to die to cleanse us from sin… But He chose to rise to free us from death: ‘Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. For by a man came death and by a man the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Cor 15:20-21)…

“The effect of the resurrection of Christ in regard to our liberation from the dead we shall achieve at the end of the world, when we shall all rise by the power of Christ…”

“‘If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again then is our preaching vain and our faith vain’ (1 Cor 15:13-14). It is, then, a necessary tenet of our faith to believe there will be a resurrection of the dead” (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 79).

For Thomas, the soul and body form a composite which is the person. The Catholic faith affirms that the soul is immortal. Thomas asserts that ultimately the soul must be reunited with the body:  “The soul is naturally united to the body… it is the form of the body. It is, then, contrary to the nature of the soul to be without the body… It must once again be united to the body; and this is to rise again (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 79).

Thomas argues that the soul would not have perfect happiness without the body:

Ultimate happiness is the perfection of the happy one. Therefore, anyone to whom some perfection is wanting does not yet have perfect happiness because his desire is not entirely at rest, for every imperfect thing naturally desires to achieve its perfection. But the soul separated from the body is in a way imperfect, as is every part existing outside of the whole, for the soul is necessarily a part of human nature. Therefore, man cannot achieve his ultimate happiness unless the soul be once again united to the body… (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 79).

Thomas recognizes that there is no natural argument for the resurrection of the body. The resurrection depends solely on God’s power: “Since the divine power remains the same even when things are corrupted, it can restore the corrupted to integrity” and “The principle of resurrection is not natural. It is caused by divine power alone… For the Son of God assumed human nature to restore it. Therefore, what is a defect of nature [death] will be restored in all, and so all will return from death to life” (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 81).

In his instruction on the Creed, Thomas considers the effects of belief in the resurrection of the body:

Firstly, it takes away the sorrow which we feel for the departed. It is impossible for one not to grieve over the death of a relative or friend; but the hope that such a one will rise again greatly tempers the pain of parting, as St. Paul says: “And we will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, as others who have no hope” [1 Thes 4:12].

Secondly, it takes away the fear of death. If one does not hope in another and better life after death, then without doubt one is greatly in fear of death and would willingly commit any crime rather than suffer death. But because we believe in another life which will be ours after death, we do not fear death, nor would we do anything wrong through fear of it: “That, through death He might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and might deliver those who through fear of death were all their life subject to bondage” [Hb 2:14].

Thirdly, it makes us watchful and careful to live uprightly. If, however, this life in which we live were all, we would not have this great incentive to live well, for whatever we do would be of little importance, since it would be regulated not by eternity, but by brief, determined time. But we believe that we shall receive eternal rewards in the resurrection for whatsoever we do here. Hence, we are anxious to do good: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” [1 Cor 15:19].

Finally, it withdraws us from evil. Just as the hope of reward urges us to do good, so also the fear of punishment, which we believe is reserved for wicked deeds, keeps us from evil: “But they who have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they who have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment” [Jn 5:29].

A document of the Congregation for the Faith, Letter on Certain Questions Concerning Eschatology (May 17, 1979) cautions against “arbitrary imaginative representations” but affirms:

Christians must firmly hold the two following essential points: on the one hand they must believe in the fundamental continuity, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, between our present life in Christ and the future life (charity is the law of the Kingdom of God and our charity on earth will be the measure of our sharing in God’s glory in heaven); on the other hand they must be clearly aware of the radical break between the present life and the future one, due to the fact that the economy of faith will be replaced by the economy of fullness of life: we shall be with Christ and “we shall see God” (cf. 1 Jn 3:2), and it is in these promises and marvelous mysteries that our hope essentially consists.                                               

Denis Vincent Wiseman, O.P

A Vida Intellectual – ‘The Intellectual Life’

A Vida Intellectual – ‘The Intellectual Life’

The famous French Dominican philosopher of the early 20th century, Antonin Sertillange, published a work entitled “The Intellectual Life” in which he presented a practical guide to progress in scholarship.  Sertillange held that scholarship is natural.  Human beings have a natural vocation to the intellectual life.  All human beings have a need to develop their intelligence, to engage in study and to search for truth.  In this way they imitate God whose image in the human person includes the intellect.   The intellectual life searches for truth and so leads to God.  The fulfilment of this Christian vocation requires personal commitment to study, time spent in prayer, and participation in community life.

Sertillange held that the intellectual life involves virtue; one must love the truth.  Study that comes from virtue seeks above all union with God.   Virtue turns mere study into genuine pursuit of truth, with the end being the highest truth; God Himself.

Still, the intellectual life has other considerations, as well.  It requires physical health, as well.  As the saying goes, a healthy mind requires a healthy body. The material goods of human nature are important, even though the intellectual goods have priority.  We share with animals physical goods, but it is the intellectual goods that distinguish us.  So when physical goods take priority over intellectual goods, the body becomes an enemy, not a friend, and the human person is diminished, for all physical goods have as their purpose to promote the intellectual goods.  Even sleep has as its purpose the production of ideas.

Intellectual pursuit means focusing on particular ideas, but never one idea to the exclusion of others, lest a certain prejudice develop by which one comes to see reality from a single point of view.   Following the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, the intellectual life requires information from various sources, all in pursuit of the one truth.  The nature of truth is that the search never ends.

Finally, the intellectual life requires us to be efficient in our study.  It is not enough simply to study.  We need the intellectual virtues that help us to understand and retain what we have learned.  Because all the virtues are connected, we need to practice all the virtues if we wish to study well.    Only then may we formulate our own thoughts and cheerfully give to others the fruits of our contemplation.

Br. Danilson Lopes, O.P.

15th November, 2019