July 17, 2019
This past week we learned of the death of Most Reverend Paul A. Zifel, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Bismarck after a prolonged struggle with Alzheimer’s. May he rest in peace, and his family and the people, religious, and clergy of the diocese be consoled.
In March 1998, Bishop Zifpel made a pastoral visit to the Mission at Gekano in the Diocese of Kisii, Kenya. Twenty plus years later, people still ask about him and remember his graciousness. Yesterday evening, we celebrated a Memorial Mass to pray for him.
One story about him—shortly after he was installed as the Bishop of Bismarck, he was at a gathering in Dickinson, North Dakota. My father happened to be present at the same event so I introduced him to the Bishop. Bp. Zipfel, with a hint of jocularity, upon seeing my dad, called him, “a young punk.” My father sheepishly told the Bishop, “But, I am older than you.” A good laugh was enjoyed by all.
Since my return from my home visit to North Dakota, I have been updating records for our Orphan Education Program and the Heifer and Housing Programs. The flower garden has been weeded. (Enjoy the picture of a rose bush below.) I continue to celebrate daily Mass at Gekano Parish and to two outstations on Sundays for Mass. My Swahili was a bit rusty for a week or so, but, with use, I find myself comfortable using the language. Also, I have been studying the Mass in Ekegusii, the native tongue of the Kisii tribe, and am preparing myself to celebrate Mass in the language in the near future.
Word traveled quickly that I had returned. It seems there has been a torrent of people coming to ask for various needs—orphans associated with the program and people of the surrounding area. Some of these needs can be addressed; other needs presented are not part of the Mission and its reason for being here; and various needs are beyond the ability of the Mission. I pray for the “Wisdom of Solomon.”
I have been to Nyabururu Parish a couple of times to visit with Logan Obrigewitch and Jacob Magnuson, the two seminarians who are in the Diocese of Kisii for the month of July on a pastoral assignment. They keep telling me, “We are well fed!” (I know their mothers would appreciate this.)