Samuel Waweru - Nairobi.
Bishop Oballa urged couples to work towards ensuring that things are right in the family so that society can achieve success in curbing Gender Based Violence (GBV).
“The family is one of the most precious values that the Church holds and promotes,” said Bishop Oballa. “If things are right in the family, society will thrive. If things begin going wrong at the family level, society is going to be affected. God intended that as the first unit of society, the family should be a place of holiness, communion and love,” he said.
Gender Based Violence during Covid-19
The Bishop was addressing Family Life Coordinators drawn from Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Ngong during a training workshop on Prevention and Intervention of violence. The workshop was held at the Watakatifu Wote Senta in Ngong recently. The training was organised by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Family Life National Office. It was the first in a series of trainings planned across Catholic dioceses in Kenya to address the rising incidences of GBV in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Bishop Oballa noted that Covid-19 has brought out many issues that have been underlying in families, saying the world we are living in today calls for families to have a lot of compassion and love for one another. He encouraged families not to give room to intolerance as this could spark violence.
God’s word can heal our tendency to violence
“God’s word can heal our anger, intolerance and tendency to violence so that we can start to treat one another with love and mercy in all situations without calculation, especially with those we live,” said the Bishop. “I believe we give room to intolerance and violence when we begin calculating. When people start calculating, they give room to sowing discord, and this brings bitterness.”
Bishop Oballa called upon the family life coordinators to strive to have model families and be examples that others can emulate, telling them that a lot is expected from them by God and the Church.
‘When you cultivate a model family, this will help you to work on your wrong relationships and allow God to heal whatever it is that has not been going well,” he said. “I call on you to reflect on whether you are the man or woman, husband or wife, father or mother, that you should be. God has expectations of you, and the Church too has expectations of you,” emphasised Bishop Oballa.
See in every human person, a child of God
The Bishop urged the coordinators to heed the exaltation of Pope Saint John Paul II that calls on Christian families to share in the life and mission of the Church.
“If all families understood the ministry of the Church, GBV would have no place whatsoever in the society,” said Bishop Oballa. “If everyone saw in every human being, a child of God, GBV would be non-existent. Please go out and be ambassadors of God’s love and peace.”
Combating violence in society requires commitment
He told the coordinators that success in their work of combating violence in the society would not depend on their numbers but their commitment to the cause. He reminded them that Jesus only had 12 Apostles, but the message of Salvation has today reached the ends of the world.
“You just need a few people who grasp the message and are convinced to be able to pass the message and influence the attitudes and habits of others,” said the Bishop.
He thanked the staff of KCCB – Family Life National Office for organising the diocesan trainings, saying this was a true mark of their commitment and dedication in ensuring the laity are formed in ways that contribute to peace and a loving atmosphere in the homes.
Change begins with each one of us
For his part, the National Executive Secretary of the KCCB – Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate, Fr. Josiah Muthee, told the coordinators to be committed to the GBV campaign and have the zeal and passion of football fans while championing their cause. He said the time had come for those in Kenya to take matters of child safeguarding seriously just as is happening in the Western World.
“Ensure that you benefit as much as possible from this training before you can cascade the GBV campaign to the grassroots. Change begins with all of us. We must be ready to do away with certain norms, cultures and customs that have become outdated,” said Fr. Muthee.