- My dear Sisters and brothers in the Lord. A very good afternoon and a warm welcome to each one of you who have made it here this afternoon to celebrate the joyous occasion of the 1st anniversary of the priestly Ordination of our chaplain, Rev. Fr. Leonard Wobilla. I want to commend the caring committee headed by Christine Ojwaka, and all the different African communities and friends of Fr. Leonard for putting together this chaplaincy family celebration and lunch.
- Today marks the completion of the first 365 days of priesthood for our chaplain and the assistant parish priest of St Henry’s Catholic cathedral, Fr. Leonard Wobilla – this is the achievement of the 1st step of a thousand-mile journey in the priestly ministry. Fr. Leonard has added not only 1 year to his priestly life, but life to his priestly year in African Catholic chaplaincy. This calls for a celebration to mark the courageous and defining decision he made exactly one year ago today – which is to serve and not to be served. That’s why all of us from the Priests, religious, lay leaders, commissions, groups, and members of African Catholic chaplaincy are gathered here this afternoon to celebrate this TOGETHERNESS and THANKSGIVING FELLOWSHIP as a big chaplaincy family.
- On behalf of the African Catholic chaplaincy /and the Chaplaincy Councils and group leaders and members of this chaplaincy, I extend our heartiest congratulations to Fr. Leonard for achieving this 1styear as a baby/ infant priest. People used to say the 1st year is always a honeymoon year, but I can tell you for Fr. Leonard it’s definitely not a honeymoon year but a hard-working year in African chaplaincy for sure. In his 5 months with us as a chaplain, his resilient spirit and commitment to his priestly calls are a sign of his manifestation of steadfast perseverance and dedication to the priesthood that he has offered his lives for.
- Indeed, we must show our sincere appreciation to Fr. Leonard for accepting to serve as a chaplain of this newly created African chaplaincy which I must confess is most challenging, tiring and at times frustrating. Fr… I hope these 5 months are not torturing but fulfilling for you.
SHARING FR. LEONARD’ S CONTRIBUTION TO the chaplaincy
- We started the year with the transfer of Fr. Leonard to Helsinki and later the creation of the chaplaincy on June 4, 2017, by our very own Bishop Teemu Sippo… and we have been fortunate to be assigned a chaplain in the person of Fr. Leonard Wobilla. This is good and thoughtful of the Bishop as Fr. Leonard has been working with the different African communities for a few months before his ordination, and he has knowledge of our cultural and spiritual needs, and this augurs well for continuity.
- This afternoon, I have 2 key thoughts to share with you on Fr. Leonard – firstly, besides being our chaplain for 5 months now, Fr. Leonard is also appointed as the assistant parish priest of St. Henry Cathedral, Helsinki and the youth and Christian pilgrimage coordinator.
- Leonard has been working very hard with the chaplaincy councils for the past months to revamp and rejuvenate the African communities, especially our youth. He has identified and formed a new team of leaders to help him in winning back all our Catholic members who have left their Catholic faiths upon arriving in Finland.
- Leonard has the plan to start a full functional Sunday school for our youth and little children. If we believe the youth are the future of tomorrow we need to train, groom and mould them Pastorally and build a pool of youth Pastoral leaders not only to serve the groups but more importantly to serve our African chaplaincy. And Fr. Leonard together with his councils has rolled out the plan on this front.
- Secondly, I am happy to share with you all that Fr. Leonard has shown to be most pastorally inclined, involved, concerned and committed to Pastoral issues and priorities. I want to mention in particular his commitment to helping our African brethren who are in the Finland prison, asylum camps, deportation camps or even his large heart towards those that are facing different challenges in Finland. Let’s give him a big hand of applause.
- As you all may recall, the executive chaplaincy council has been launched last September, and we have formed a chaplaincy level Core Commissions to plan and start the Pastoral focus and living out our Catholic faith as Christians from different cultural backgrounds and reaching out to our brothers and sisters that might need our pastoral care.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
- My dear brothers and sisters, this afternoon, I have only one take-home message for you and all the commissions, group and council members on how to play our role as leaders and members of this chaplaincy.
- This take-home message in the form of a FRAMEWORK is– to COOPERATE, COLLABORATE, COMMUNICATE, CONVERGE, COMPLIMENT with and between the chaplaincy and Parish to CREATE unity and integration and to address the issue of our Catholic brothers and sisters who are no more coming to our Catholic Church and to map a strategy on how to win them back to Christ.
- Remember that the different commissions that were created are not here to compete, but to coordinate and create a united & integrated chaplaincy. I urge you as chaplaincy commissions/ members to be mindful and swing into action to win back souls for God through the outreach programs we have started.
- Enjoy good fellowship with each other as we celebrate togetherness and thanksgiving for Fr. Leonard’s 1stanniversary as a priest. We pray that he can sustain all the trials and tribulations so that he will become a valuable gift of God. May God’s abundant grace and blessings are showered upon Fr. Leonard with good health, energy, freshness, commitment, care and love to continue working in the Pastoral vineyard of the Lord in the diocese of Finland as we move forward as a united and integrated chaplaincy to lead and address our Pastoral Priorities of Catholic Faith formation, Family issues and reaching out to all our Parishioners to build his kingdom in our time and in the process becoming oneness in Faith, Heart, Family and Parish.
Congratulation once again, Fr. Leonard
- Finally, I want to leave you with some food for thought before we go to the hall for fellowshipping…
Fellowship keeps us together,
Trials keep us Strong,
Sorrows keep us, humans,
Failures keep us Humble,
Success keeps Glowing and growing,
But Only God keeps us Going!
Thank you and enjoy quality fellowship this afternoon.
God bless you all and bless our African Catholic chaplaincy.
Chairman of African Catholic Chaplaincy Finland