From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014
Rev Fr Gradus Ochieng’ Oneko was finally laid to rest at the Kibuye Cathedral grave yard today Friday, April 11, 2014. The burial ceremony began with Holy Mass presided over by His Grace, Zachaeus Okoth, the Archbishop of Kisumu assisted by Bishop Linus Okok.
According to one of the Kibuye church directors, this was one of the biggest funerals of a priest attended by about 4,000 people. The Cathedral was filled to capacity with thousands of mourners remaining outside who could not get a place inside the church.
Fr Gradus was dismissed from St Peter’s Minor Seminary along with the late Fr Norbert Owino. Because Fr Gradus and Norbert still wanted to become a priest, they were to finish their secondary outside. Fr Gradus went to Kisumu Day Secondary School.
After they completed they went to Archbishop Okoth who allowed them to go back to the seminary. He joined St Augustine Mabanga Major Seminary where he finished his philosophical studies before proceeding to St Thomas Aquinas National Seminary in Nairobi to study theology.
He was ordained to the order of priesthood in December 1984 together with Norbert Owino and Richard Odhiambo, current parish priest at St Teresa’s Cathedral Kibuye. One of their classmates, Rev Fr Gradus Oyaro who was also present at the funeral was being ordained for Kisii Diocese.
On the evening of December 25, 2007, we had a long chart with Fr Gradus on challenges to his vocation at Ukwala Parish where he served the longest. He compared his vocation to that of Jonah, a real person who lived in a real city just like us. Jonah was called by God to a wider ministry to Nineveh but was trying to doge the call.
Jonah was called to Nineveh. According to Genesis 10:11 Nineveh was founded by the notorious Nimrod. It was the wickedest city in the world, being located on the Tigris River in what is our modern day Iraq.
Jonah couldn’t believe God wanted him to save those wicked sinners. Jonah was running away from God’s call. Fr Gradus told me he never wanted to run away from God’s call but given challenges he was undergoing he almost quit for good.
What helped Fr Gradus to persevere from his vocation was his late mother Kornelia Rabach. He recalled how his mother could pray every evening during evening prayers and rosary for his perseverance to his vocation to priesthood.
Fr Gradus mediated a lot on the vocation and the tireless work of St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests. He shared with me how the life of St. John Vianney nurtured his vocation and work a s a priest.
Born near Lyons, France, in 1786, John Vianney longed to be a priest despite the many odds against him, including his humble origins (as a young boy, he worked as a shepherd) and his limited schooling. As he began his seminary studies, he found the lectures in Latin especially challenging.
Whatever limitations he may have possessed, he did not lack for zeal. He won the battle with the books and was ordained a priest in 1815. His bishop assigned him to Ars, a remote village in France.
The new Curé (one who cares for souls)of Ars, as he came to be known, plunged into his work—restoring the parish church, visiting his new parishioners, teaching catechism. He urged his people to take their Sunday obligation more seriously.
His sermons were not only simple but fiery. John Vianney developed a reputation as a compassionate confessor with a special ability to “read souls,” the greatest gift from God. He had ability to understand the struggles of penitents and help them come to know and love God in a deeper way.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
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