The Archbishop of Mombasa Most Rev. Martin Kivuva has eulogized the Late Rt. Rev. Emanuel Barbara, (OFM Cap) as a very active Man in his pastoral activities and that as a father of the diocese, Bishop Barbara tried his best to keep a very close relationship with his priests.
“I was once the administrator in 2011 before he came on board and consecrated the Bishop of the Diocese of Malindi in October. I can say that, he was always in good mood, a very active man, a bishop who cared for his priests, very upright and straightforward about what he wanted and what he did not want, he was a very committed individual in terms of spiritual direction, he was a good friend of many sisters whom he helped, supported and encouraged in their ministries and in their call to follow Christ as religious.
Speaking during an interview at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat, Waumini House, Nairobi, Archbishop Kivuva who expressed shock at the demise of Bishop Barbara said, he headed The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Doctrine where he showed a lot of commitment despite his heart condition for which he was regularly seek treatment.
“I was saddened by his death. He headed the commission for doctrine and he was a very committed individual, he didn’t show any sign of death but died a peaceful person. He was always a happy man who took good care of himself, in terms of eating and exercise,” recalls Archbishop Kivuva.
He added that, it was a shock for everyone at the conference level but at the same time grateful for having known him and for having worked with him
“On the 5th of January 2018 in the morning at about 8.00am, I got a call from the Vicar General of Malindi Fr. Albert informing me that Bishop Emanuel Barbara had passed on, and I asked are you sure?” he said sadly.
Archbishop Kivuva also said that, a part from various developmental projects that Bishop Barbara established like the Pope Francis Rescue Centre, a Centre for the sexually abused children, the child protection office for the abused children, he also united different communities by ensuring that Italian community had mass offered in their language adding that this move created a good interaction between the local community and others including the tourists who visit the coastal region of Kenya.
Speaking at the same time, Bishop of Garissa Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro revealed that they were very close friends with the Late Bishop Barbara whom they shared a lot of things in common.
“We knew each other for many years since we belong to the same St. Franciscan Capuchin Order in Malta. We joined the order almost the same time and did some years of formation of priesthood together. Later on as he become the Provincial of the Capuchin in Malta I assisted him as his Vicar Provincial and after finishing the six years term in 1989 I asked to come to Kenya and he followed after a few months. I did not stay for long in Kenya but he remained for 19 years assisting the capuchin order as the vice provincial and also assisting so many religious and priests,” he said.
Bishop Alessandro said that, the late Bishop of Malindi was once Professor at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and a Lecturer at Tangaza University Collage in early 1990, and therefore was well known in Kenya. He mentored and assisted many students who appreciated him very much.
He said that he learnt of the Bishops death with great shock. “The news was very shocking, I called the provincial in Malta who informed the family,” he said adding that, “we thank God for giving us such a gift of Bishop Barbara. He assisted me to be able to administer in Kenya when I requested him to allow me to come back, by then he was the provincial of Capuchin order in Kenya.”
According to Alessandro, Bishop Barbara wished to be buried in Malta. Italy. “When he was airing his ideas not only to me but even to others, he expressed that if something happens to him while he is in Kenya, he wished that he would be buried in Malta,” adding that even though his body will be away from Malindi, Kenya his spirit remains around.
By Rose Achiego, Waumini Communications KCCB