Kenya: celebrations as remains of pioneer missionary come home

 The remains of a much-loved Italian missionary who, with three companions, founded the Catholic Church in central Kenya, have been returned, nearly 60 years after his death. Bishop Philip Perlo's remains were received with great jubilation in Nyeri on Monday, . Aged only 29, the pioneer Consolata Missionary priest, with his companions Fr Tommaso Gays and Brothers Celeste Lusso and Luigi Falda, celebrated the first Eucharist at Tuthu in present-day Murang'a Diocese on June 29, 1902. Perlo was made the first bishop of the Vicariate of Nyeri in 1909. He returned to Italy in 1924, where he died in 1948. The Sisters of Mary Immaculate (SMI), a religious congregation Bishop Perlo founded in 1920, requested the return of his remains. They were brought from Rome by a representative of the Consolata Missionaries General Council, Fr Giano Benedetti. Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima of Nyeri and his Coadjutor Archbishop John Njue concelebrated a special thanksgiving Eucharist, together with bishops Peter Kihara (Murang'a), Virgilio Pante (Maralal), Luigi Paiaro (Nyahururu) and Anthony Muheria (Embu). In his homily, Archbishop Kirima said the unique occasion was a time to thank God for the great work of evangelization done in the area by Bishop Perlo and other Consolata missionaries. "As the Israelites rejoiced at their father Abraham, we, too, rejoice at our father, Bishop Perlo," Archbishop Kirima said. Bishop Perlo's work -that spanned evangelization, education, agriculture, publishing and social work- laid the foundation for the future Archdiocese of Nyeri and the dioceses of Meru, Marsabit, Murang'a, Embu, Isiolo, Maralal and Nyahururu. His remains were installed in the chapel of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, following a ceremony led by Archbishop Njue. "It is something so moving. We are talking of a person who led a delegation to start evangelization in a new area," said the Archbishop. "He must remain for us a point of reference in the history of our faith." Source: CISA

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