Catholic Diocese of Kitui Bishop-elect Joseph Mwongela officially assumes office Saturday taking over from Archbishop Antony Muheria in a ceremony that will be held at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School grounds in Kitui County with about 1,000 guests expected to attend.
Father Mwongela was appointed as the fourth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui by Pope Francis in a communication that was officially made public in Rome on Tuesday 17th, March 2020.
Mwongela will be replacing Rev. Anthony Muheria who was transferred by the Pope to the Archdiocese of Nyeri on April 23, 2017. The letter of his appointment was sent to the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, His Excellency Archbishop Hubertus van Megen.
Father Joseph Mwongela who until March 2020 served as the Vicar General of Kitui Diocese is the longest serving Bishop-elect in the history of the Catholic Church with his ordainment having been postponed following restrictions brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The main ordaining Bishop at the event will be His Excellency Archbishop Hubertus Van Megen assisted by His Eminence Cardinal John Njue and Archbishop Antony Muheria. Speaking to KBC Digital, Archbishop Muheria said he is confident that Father Mwongela will adequately serve the Catholic Diocese of Kitui.
“Bishop-Elect Joseph Mwongela is a gift for the Diocese of Kitui and for the Catholic Church as a whole. He is a highly gifted and humble priest to whom we are happy hand over the care of God’s people,” he stated
The event will be broadcast live on KBC Channel 1 TV from 10am-2pm.
Who is Bishop-elect Joseph Mwongela?
Father Mwongela described by those close to him as humorous and committed to his calling was born and raised in Kakumi village in Kitui County.
He started his priesthood journey 1989 when he joined St Mary’s Senior Seminary in Molo Nakuru County.
He then proceeded to St Augustine’s Seminary in Bungoma where he acquired a BA in Philosophy. He would later enroll for a BA in Theology at St Thomas Acquinas Seminary in Nairobi.
He was ordained a priest on 7th September 1996 for the Diocese of Kitui.
He subsequently held the following roles: parish vicar of the Migwani parish (1996-1997); parish priest of the Nguni parish (1997-1998); formatter at the Saint Patrick Formation House (1999-2001); diocesan chancellor and, at the same time, director of the diocesan office for vocational pastoral care (2003-2008).
From 2003 to 2008 he studied in Rome where he was awarded a licentiate from the Pontifical Gregorian University (2003-2006) and a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum (2005-2008).
He went on to serve as Chaplain of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Kitui (2008); parish priest of Muthale parish (2008-2013); Director of the Saint John Paul II Institute of Professional Studies and parish priest of the Boma parish (Our Lady of Africa Cathedral). At the time of his appointment, the Bishop-elect had been the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui since March, 2015.
Mwongela holds a PhD in systematic theology studies from the Pontifical University of St Thomas- Angelicum.
The Catholic Diocese of Kitui
The Catholic Diocese of Kitui covers the whole of Kitui County and consists of 29 parishes.
It became a Diocese in November 1963 under the Leadership of its first Bishop Monsignor William Dunne.
In February 1996, Archbishop Boniface Lele succeeded Bishop Dunne until he was appointed the Archibishop of Mombasa in 2005.
Thereafter, the Diocese was overseen by Father Paul Healy who acted as a Diocesan Administrator.
In May 2007, Rt.Rev Bishop Martin Kivuva was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of Kitui.Later in 2008, Rt. Rev Bishop Antony Muheria was appointed the Bishop of Kitui.
In April 2017, Bishop Antony Muheria was appointed Archbishop of Nyeri Diocese and served as the Apostolic Administrator of Kitui Diocese.
Rev.Fr Joseph Mwongela will now be the fourth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kitui following his appointment.