Newly-appointed Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kericho Alfred Rotich has described his appointment as a pleasant surprise.
Rt Rev Rotich, who retired from Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) as bishop of the Military Ordinariate after serving for 25 years, yesterday told The Standard he was excited with the appointment.
“The news came as a surprise to me. Nonetheless, this is added opportunity for me to continue the work of generalisation as the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kericho,” he said.
While thanking the Pope for the appointment, the bishop revealed that he first met the Pope while he was chair of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat during the pontiff’s 2015 visit to Kenya.
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Earlier, when Pope John Paul II visited Kenya, Rotich was one of the commentators.
The soft spoken bishop, who attended Sunday mass at the Resurrection Garden in Kericho, yesterday said he would formally take over the bishop’s mantle in an elaborate ceremony to be held after 60 days.
“Taking possession of the diocese, it is stipulated that after the announcement I have to wait for 60 days. Within the period I will be interacting with my predecessor as he prepares to hand over in a smooth and effective way,” said Rotich.
The 62-year-old said he would use the two months to prepare himself for the new role through prayers for wisdom and fortitude.
“I thank God for the new opportunity, my predecessor and the entire members of Kericho diocese, which includes Bomet County, for their readiness to walk the path of Jesus Christ. I ask the Holy Spirit, which came on the day of the Pentecost, to continue blessing them even as I come in as a shepherd,” he said.
Ambrose Kimutai of Segemic Parish in Bomet County, which is under the Kericho Diocese, welcomed the appointment.
He said besides the evangelistic work, they expected the bishop would play a role in uniting the Kalenjin nation.
“We also expect that he will play a role in social issues. Having worked closely with Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee, we expect that he will help mend the rift within Rift Valley leaders by ensuring that they reconcile so that they can start working for the general good of the community,” said Fr Kimutai.
The Segemic Parish priest at the same time said they expected the bishop to help in fighting for the resettlement of Mau evictees.
“Innocent people lost a lot of their resources in purchasing land, which the government eventually declared was forest land. We want the bishop to engage the government on behalf of the Mau evictees,” said Kimutai.
Political leaders, led by Speaker of Kericho County Assembly Dominic Rono also congratulated the bishop on his new assignment.
The news of Rotich’s appointment as the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kericho was announced in Rome on Saturday.
The bishop’s letter of appointment was sent to the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Bert Van Megen.
Rotich will replace the current Bishop of Kericho, Rt Rev Emmanuel Okombo, who has attained 75 years, the official retirement age for bishops.
Rotich was born on July 27, 1957, at Tegat Village, Longisa in present day Bomet County.