Origins and growth of the Roman Catholic Church in western Kenya 1895-1952
Ogutu, Gilbert E M
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This study seeks to determine the origin and to demonstrate the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in western Kenya. The main focus of the study is on the growth of the Church as is manifest in the Church's crucial strength and spatial expansion. The dynamics of that growth have been spelt out, namely: European imperial interest in Africa; missionary zeal and competition for converts demographic attraction; African catechist participation; and the African's desire for a new identity. Between Christianity and African ways of life; and the implications of that interaction for the missionary, on the one hand, and for the African convert on the other. The study is an attempt to delineate missionary approaches and roles in the propagation of the Catholic faith; indicate new outlooks generated by the missionary presence; the roles played by the African converts in the course of founding the Church and creating a Roman Catholic community in western Kenya, between 1895 and 1952; to ferlti1y characteristics of the emergent Church. The is be tested the missionaries' collaboration with colonial administrators, coupled with the African initiative and eagerrics or new identity, made the planting of the Roman Catholic Church in western Kenya possible; secondly that Catholic missions in competition with Protestant missions was instrumental in the Roman Catholic Church's rapid numerical growth and spatial expansion. The Roman Catholic missionary society which introduced Catholicism to the peoples of western Kenya has been identified as St. Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions, the Mill Hill Mission. This society was founded by Herbert Cardinal vauqhen in' 1866, following Catholic emancipation in Britain in'1829, and the restoration of the hierarchy there in 1850. It has been noted that Cardinal Vaughan had difficulties in recruiting Englishmen for the priesthood, and so had to turn to Holland, where the Dutch bishops very willingly helped him raise candidates of Dutch priests among the priests in western Kenya. The invitation of the Mill Hill Fathers to East Africa was to assure the Baganda that Catholicism was French, while Protestantism was English. To accommodate the Englishspeaking Hill Fathers, a Vicariate of the Upper-Nile was created out of the large Vicariate of victoria which was king white Fathers. The new vicariate, which was placed under the care of the Mill Hill Fathers, covered eastern Buganda, Bus6ga, Bukedi Teso and ~he whole of western Kenya to a line running from-;lake Turkana in the north, -to mount Kilimanjaro in the South. Starting their evangelistic work at Nsambya in Buganda in 1895, the Mill Hill Fathers spread into Busoga and Bukedi before opening work in western Kenya in 1903. The subjugation of western Kenya by British Imperial punitive expeditions, and the building 6 railway terminus at Kisumu by 1902, led to unprecedented missionary influx into western Kenya. This influx meant stiff competition between the Mill Hill Fathers and about half a dozen Protestant missions that converged on the area. It is argued in the thesis that conversion to Christianity generated a cultural conflict which became manifest as tension between change and continuity. Whereas the Hill Fathers had full control over there, converts, thus winning support from the colonial administrators, the interaction between Christianity and African ways of life, coupled with the paternalistic attitude of the missionaries, led to conflicts which-later surfaced - in the form of 0chism in the Church polity. Despite the tension and g6station period of the schismatic tendencies, by 1952 the presence of the Roman Catholic Church had been felt right across the entire region, and a Roman Catholic community had emerged. The study breaks down, naturally I into four sections, although these are not indicated in the table of contents. The first section (Introduction) deals with the nature and scope of the study. The Second section (Chapter One), covers the origins of section three (Chapters Two to Five), analyze the Church's growth during the period 1903 to 1952. Section four, (Chapter Six), appraises the Roman Catholic presence in western Kenya during the period under review. The study ends with a concluding section which points to the trend the Church's development was taking as its leadership continued to be indigenized.