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  • Jun
  • 12

Inspired by missionaries, Kenyan man leaves home

Posted By June 12, 2014 | 1:26 pm | Lead Story #3
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By Tanya Connor

Missionary priests inspired him.
Saturday he became one himself.
He is Father Charles P. O. Omolo. He was ordained a priest Saturday at St. Paul Cathedral.
His journey to this point started in Kenya, where he was born on Feb. 5, 1983 to John and Helen Milugo. He said he was baptized as an infant and brought up Catholic. His parents are practicing Catholics and his father is now chairman of the parish council at St. Boniface, in the Kisumu Archdiocese. The parish was founded by Mill Hill Fathers, a missionary order.
“The big thing was my first Communion,” Father Omolo said. “That was in 1991. … Then I became an altar server. … I was inspired by the liturgy, the sacramental ministry and the priests.”
“I started having the desire, the draw, to priesthood,” he said. “So as I reflected about how these priests came from Europe … I started having thoughts about becoming a
missionary.”
He choose a minor seminary for his high school education, he said, and “the missionary spirit, the desire, the feeling, never went away.”
So then it was on to the Spiritan Missionary Seminary in Tanzania, where he studied philosophy. (His bachelor’s in philosophy came, through the seminary, from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, he said. He also got an internal diploma for religious studies, social sciences and languages from the Spiritan Seminary.)
“When I graduated, I applied to join the Glenmary Home Missioners,” Americans who go to areas of the United States where there is little Catholic presence, he said. He spent 2006-2008 with them in Kentucky, he said, joking that that’s where he gets his accent. He studied American history, English and psychology at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky., and did some discernment in their novitiate.
He decided to pursue diocesan priesthood instead, and in 2009 was accepted for the Worcester Diocese, he said.
“I’m excited, looking forward to everything,” he told The Catholic Free Press last week.
First there was his ordination, then his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Gabriel’s.
He looks forward to “the years in ministry after that,” he said. “Celebrating Mass and listening to confessions, doing baptisms, weddings and funerals and visiting with parishioners – I love doing that.” He didn’t want to leave out hospital visits or Communion calls either.
Africans here were among the many who rejoiced in the new missionary priest’s ordination.
“It was marvelous and everything was beautiful,” said Sylvester Kioko, sacristan of the African community at St. Peter Parish and St. Andrew Mission in Worcester. “We thank God and we also thank the (priests’) parents for offering their son to serve God, to be a priest, according to (the order of) Melchizedek, a priest forever.” (See Hebrews 7.)
We “also thank the bishop for accepting our son to be a priest in the Diocese of Worcester, and also the other priests who helped, the college, … Father Anthony Mpagi,” he said. (Father Mpagi is chaplain of the diocesan African Ministry.)
“We are happy because Charles has answered the call to service, and we hope with his inspiration other African young men will come forward to serve God,” said John Maina, former president of the Kenyan community at St. Peter’s-St. Andrew’s.
“We feel that it is a demonstration to our children,” said Gabriel Muiruri, former vice chairman of the Kenyan Catholic community. “Now they see somebody they can emulate. It’s our first child to be ordained. Among we who are elderly, he’s our son.”
Father Omolo said he is grateful for the generosity of the people of the Diocese of Worcester, who have assisted him with their resources and prayers.
“They have opened for me the doors to their homes and the doors to their hearts,” he said.
On the back of the invitation to his ordination and Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Gabriel’s he used the Scripture: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19)
Commenting on this, Father Omolo asked how Jesus could look at 12 men who were barely educated, riding on donkeys – or fishing boats – and tell them to go out to the whole world and make disciples.
“Hello, what’s the flight number?” he asked. But, he concluded, “Two thousand years later it’s a reality.”