Rev Fr John Lukwatwa blesses faithful at Holy Family Minor Basilica Nairobi during Palm Sunday Mass. Photo: Moses Omusula, Standard
Hundreds of Catholic faithful gathered at Holy Family Minor Basilica to mark the end of the lent season and the beginning of the Holy Week.
Led by a priest, the congregation gathered before a symbolic cross outside the church, waving palm branches, for prayer and song before proceeding to the church for the sermon and the Holy Communion. Holy Family Minor Basilica’s Fr Simon Ng’ang’a urged the faithful to embrace true Christianity by accepting everyone.
“Your Christianity has no meaning if you don’t treat everyone as your brothers and sisters. We are all Kenyans,” said Ng’ang’a as the church celebrated Palm Sunday.
He also urged Christians to strengthen their faith through consistent prayer. Catholic bishops earlier this year called for dialogue for sustainable peace, institutional reforms, and praying for peace and unity in the country in the run-up to the General Election in August.
The Church dedicated this year’s lent period, beginning on Ash Wednesday, to campaign for peaceful and credible elections and leaders of integrity. Lent is a season of the Christian year when the faithful focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. It is a 40-day season that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey just days before he was crucified.
Palm branches are widely recognised as a symbol of peace and victory while the donkey symbolises humble arrival in peace. The faithful dedicated the Lent season to praying for a peaceful election.
Dela Awuor said she prayed for peace during the elections and positive outcomes for the year on a personal level. Francis Oyatsi, speaking to The Standard after the service, had also prayed for peaceful elections and urged Kenyans to shun violence.
“The final decision will be made on the ballot in August. There is no need to fight or heckle, just vote,” said Oyatsi, who is vying for the Busia County governorship on a United Democratic Party ticket.
Beryl Nyaguoga, a faithful, said she dedicated the lent period to praying for a job after successfully completing her university education.
“My year has begun well despite a so not rosy year in 2016. In the 40 days dedicated to Lent I prayed for a job,” said Nyaguoga.