Agenzia Fides) – Two newly appointed bishops who work in "frontier dioceses" have told Fides of the challenges they face and the hopes they have for the future of evangelization in their dioceses. Bishop Bonaventure Nahimana, Bishop of Rutana (Burundi), and Bishop Dominic Kimengich, Auxiliary Bishop of Lodwar (Kenya), are in Rome for the Seminar for newly appointed bishops, organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (see Fides 09/06/2010).
"The Diocese of Rutan is only a year and a half 'years old', as it was founded January 17, 2009," Bishop Nahimana told Fides. "It is located at the border with Tanzania. Unlike the rest of Burundi, it requires a great effort of evangelization. In fact, while 67% of the entire Burundian population is Catholic, in my diocese the percentage drops to 40% Catholic," says the Bishop of Rutana. "The rest of the population belongs to Protestant sects. There are some Muslims and members of the African traditional religion. The Protestant sects, which come from abroad, took advantage of the fact that there were no Catholic missions in the area, and settled in. Therefore, there is great work to be done in terms of evangelization."
Bishop Nahimana emphasizes the fact that most of the work of evangelization falls on local clergy: "The diocese was founded by the local Church, as it was formed by territories taken from two existing dioceses, Bururi and Ruyigi, one of which was founded in 1973 by a bishop from Burundi. The missionary presence is limited to a parish entrusted to Polish priests. We also have some Polish Carmelite nuns who work in the diocese."
"The Diocese of Lodwar is in northern Kenya, bordering Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda," Bishop Kimengich told Fides. "The biggest challenge comes from the fact that living together is not always easy for the people living along these boundaries. They are nomadic people who are constantly robbing one another's cattle. There are also thousands of refugees from Sudan and Somalia living in the diocesan territory."
"It is a challenge for the Church to spread the Good News in such a cultural context," said the Auxiliary Bishop of Lodwar. "We are helped in our mission by the presence of a dozen missionary groups operating in the diocese, which is fairly vast - 70,000 square kilometers. Carrying out apostolate among nomads is very difficult. We have to live among these people. Our first concern is to provide basic services like food and water. This enables us to help them understand the love of Jesus for them and spread His teachings," concluded Bishop Kimengich.