Home' The Southern Cross : April 2015 Contents Page 6 April 2015
Newly arrived Kenyan priest Father John
Mbaraka concelebrated his first Mass at
Aberfoyle Park last month on St Patrick’s
He said sharing the altar at the Nativity
Church with fellow countryman Fr
Charles Lukati on this day was especially
significant given the profound effect the
patron saint of Ireland has had on his
journey to priesthood.
“Most of the parish priests at my home
parish are Irish,” said Fr John, 47.
“So it was nice being able to concelebrate
the first Mass (in Adelaide) on March 17
with the people,” he said.
Fr John arrived on March 3 to minister in
the Adelaide diocese for the next three
years as part of the diocesan international
priests program. He will assist Fr Lukati at
Aberfoyle Park Parish.
Fr John comes from the Kericho Diocese
in Kenya which administers to 100,000
Catholics. Kericho is a town located west
of the Kenyan Rift Valley and is considered
the capital of the country’s tea industry. It
is also where the Kiltegan Fathers (Society
of St Patrick) have been running a mission
since the 1950s.
Fr John attended the Society of St
Patrick’s mission school as a child and
was strongly influenced by parish priest
and teacher Fr Edward Walsh. He said
he was 17 years old when he began to
consider his vocation and entered the
seminary at 20.
“Fr Walsh never told me to enter the
seminary, but over time I just felt it was my
Fr John, the third son of six children, spent
nine years as a seminarian with Fr Lukati,
who arrived in Adelaide from Kenya in
2012, and Fr Michael Musyoka Kyumu, in
Adelaide since 2010.
Fr John said he approached Kericho
Bishop Emmanuel Okombo for a new
pastoral experience after working in
the diocese for 18 years. He said the
Bishop said there was a need for a priest
in the Adelaide diocese, which he later
discovered was where Fr Michael and Fr
Charles were working.
Fr John contacted the Adelaide diocese in
He is currently taking part in a welcoming
program developed by the clergy care
team for overseas priests, which involves
learning about the parish, child protection
training, sightseeing, driving lessons and
various meetings with diocesan leadership.
“I’ve come with an open heart and mind to
learn and become a part of the diocesan
team,” said Fr John.
The diocese initiated the international
priests program several years ago. In the
last five years nine priests have joined the
diocese from India and Africa.
Earlier this year Monsignor David Cappo
was appointed director of the program.
Later this year he will travel to Africa, India
and Vietnam to speak with bishops, clergy
and religious leaders on opportunities to
become involved in the program.
When Ian Wilson was a 14-year-old boy
living in West Ryde, Sydney, in the 1960s,
he was watching television one day when
he saw a man with an American accent
standing in front of a blackboard talking
His ears pricked up, due to his interest
in science, but he soon found himself
absorbed in the man’s lucid theories on
Creation and God.
That man was Fulton Sheen, the American
Catholic bishop who frequented millions of
families’ living rooms through his radio and
television programs and whose cause for
canonisation was opened in 2002.
Baptised in the Anglican Church, Ian
(pictured) had not been exposed to religion
in any formal sense but Sheen’s capacity
to evangelise in “such a natural way” had
an immediate impact. He began reading
the bible and became friends at Epping
Boys High School with a committed
Christian who later went on to be ordained.
His first experience of church was
Evensong when an Anglican priest gave
a sermon and related the Scriptures to
“normal, everyday life”. “I expected it to
be all hell and brimstone but it wasn’t
frightening at all,” Ian recalled.
He became involved with a group of young
people who invited him to go into the city
to a special service at Christ Church St
Laurence, a very high Anglican church
with all the “Catholic trappings of incense,
chanting, colour and candles”.
“I thought it was like church in heaven,” he
Ian pursued a career as an engineering
geologist but in his forties he decided to
enter an Anglican seminary and studied
theology at the Australian Catholic
University because the Anglican equivalent
was closed while it went through
accreditation. This proved fortuitous when
– nearly ten years after his ordination as an
Anglican priest – he began his journey to
the Catholic priesthood.
He and his wife Nan, a maternal and child
nurse, were received into the Catholic
Church by Archbishop Philip Wilson at
Easter 2013. They did so with the good
wishes of their Anglican community at
At the same time, Ian was playing an
integral part in the establishment of the
Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern
Cross, of which he is moderator for South
Before coming to Adelaide for engineering
work, he had been closely involved with
a group of Anglican priests in Melbourne
who were the first to be ordained as
Catholic priests for the new Ordinariate.
Ian elected to go through the RCIA (Rite
of Christian Initiation of Adults) here in
Adelaide, believing it important to meet
people with different traditions and
The 64-year-old father of three and
grandfather of two will be ordained a
deacon on March 26 in St Francis Xavier’s
Cathedral. He said it was “the personal
end of a lifelong desire to see organic
unity between Anglicans and Catholics, by
Anglican acceptance of a full Catholic faith
and coming into full communion with the
He described the three ordinariates
(UK, North American and Australia) as
effectively large regional Catholic dioceses.
“We are pioneers, this is just the
beginning,” he said. “We hope to bring
about good things for Anglicans and
Catholics by demonstrating that Anglicans
can become fully Catholic in faith and
commitment, yet happily preserve much of
their tradition and culture.”
Ian said all diocesan Catholics were
warmly welcomed to the Ordinariate’s
Masses and other services at St Mary’s
Church, North Adelaide. “We hope
reciprocal visits of individuals will enrich
and deepen friendship and prayerful
support between our respective parishes.”
Similarly, he said he hoped his own
diaconate ordination would create a
greater understanding of the Ordinariate
and its role in the ‘new evangelisation’.
Although his Ordinariate duties will be
his first call, Ian is expecting to assist the
Archdiocese as a Catholic deacon and
later in the year as a Catholic priest.
Tuned in to the Catholic faith
WELCOME: (L-R) Adelaide Archdiocese clergy care coordinator Brie Young, Father John Mbaraka and clergy care coordinator
Sandie Griffin enjoy a cup of tea at the Central Market as part of his welcome to the diocese.
From Kenya’s tea mecca to Adelaide
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
By Jenny Brinkworth
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