The former Hectorville parish assistant priest was given a rock star welcome by his home diocese a week after he left Adelaide to take up his new appointment.
Papal Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan Archbishop Bert van Megan presided at the Mass which went for more than six hours. It was attended by bishops, clergy and dignitaries including the local Governor, the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, and local politicians, many of whom addressed the large gathering.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, through a speech read by Odinga, told the Catholic Church that his administration was ready to work with the Church in promoting development.
Highlights of the celebration included traditional African dancing, vibrant singing led by a large choir, and a procession around the school grounds in a vehicle with the new bishop waving from the sun roof.
Bishop Odiwa said he was “thrown into confusion” when the Nuncio called him to tell him of Pope Francis’ decision.
“I saw darkness and didn’t know how to handle the request, life was going to change forever, I prayed and prayed as he waited for my response the following day,” he said.
“Then it came to me as an afterthought to request for a video call so I could confirm my doubts and that he meant what he had told me earlier.
After it was confirmed, Bishop Odiwa said Psalm 46:10 kept coming to his mind – ‘be still and know that I am God’.
“If I was to leave my comfort zone in Adelaide and take care of His flock in my own home diocese, I would need stillness and wisdom, serenity and wisdom…In a complex world like ours, faith in God and serenity and wisdom helps me in all that I do, it gave me the courage to say yes, and that’s why I chose as my motto ‘serenity and wisdom’.”
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