Many parishioners at St. Monica Church in western Kenya are unhappy after their favorite priest was suspended for misconduct by the Diocese of Homa Ba
Many parishioners at St. Monica Church in western Kenya are unhappy after their favorite priest was suspended for misconduct by the Diocese of Homa Bay.
Fr. Paul Ogalo was suspended June 3 for using secular music, drama and dance to attract youths to the church.
The 45-year-old priest had been entertaining his parishioners with rap music, urging them to stop using drugs and to get involved in environmental and social justice issues.
Locals came to love his unique style of preaching the Gospel. “I’m very disappointed that he is suspended. I will now not go to church,” said Benard Oketch, 28.
“Father Paul has been our mentor. He uses the language youths understand,” Oketch said. Through rap, the priest “has saved thousands of youths” from abusing drugs, he said.
After celebrating Mass, he would change his priestly vestments for black shorts and a white shirt, tie a red bandana around his head, and begin rapping to the congregation.
“I use the rap music to bring … youths to the church,” Ogalo said. “Thereafter, I bring them to Christ.”
Church youth leader Violet Menya said the priest attracted hundreds of young people to church, where they would stay. He also initiated tree planting and other community projects, she said.
But the bishops have dismissed Ogalo’s style of preaching. Fr. Charles Kochiel, judicial vicar of the interdiocesan tribunal of Kisumu, confirmed Ogalo’s suspension.
“We have suspended him for a year to give him time to reconsider his ways,” Kochiel said, noting that “every institution has its own code of conduct.”
“There are ways of doing things. There are certain things the church promotes in the society. If we mix … what the secular and church institutions do, then definitely people are going to read different messages,” he said.