Kisimu, Kenya, January 31, 2019
The body of His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisimu and Western Kenya was laid to rest yesterday at the Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral where the diocesan headquarters are located, reports nyxthimeron.com.
Thus, the Kenyan faithful bid farewell to Bp. Athanasius, their greatly beloved hierarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, on the feast of the 3 Holy Hierarchs.
His Grace became very ill while visiting America in November and was admitted to the ICU at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Social media was flooded with heartfelt stories and memories of the kind and gentle hierarch. He reposed in the Lord on January 4, having suffered from a rare form of blood cancer. He was only 48.
Bp. Athanasius’ body arrived to the Nairobi airport on January 27 and to the Kisimu airport the next day, from where it was taken to his home, where hundreds of people came to pray for and remember His Grace. A memorial All-Night Vigil was celebrated in the evening of January 29, where His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Nairobi reminded those who had gathered to mourn of how such moments underscore the importance of our reliance on the salvation of Christ, Who is our final judge and our hope.
A hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated the next day, January 30. The Liturgy was followed by a number of eulogies in Bp. Athanasius’ honor, and at 4:00 PM, a procession to the cathedral at the diocesan headquarters began to serve his funeral, according to a schedule posted on the Facebook page of the Orthodox Christian Missionary Center (OCMC).
The children of the St. Tabitha Mission in the Kibera Slums sang in honor of Bp. Athanasius:
also reports that more than $50,000 were raised to fund transportation and funeral arrangements, to organize an event in his honor, and to support his diocese during this time of transition.
Abp. Makarios offered a moving homily at the funeral, which he opened by exclaiming “Christ is Risen” in several languages. “Today is a very special day, a day of joy, a day of celebration, because we have seen our brother and co-celebrant in Christ, Bishop Athanasius, departing from this life to eternal life, the real life, the life in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” he preached, focusing on the joy of the coming Resurrection.
But, we never know when our time is coming, and thus we have to be ready. “Be ready,” the archbishop said. “Are we ready? Are we ready to forgive one another? Are we ready to love one another? Are we ready to embrace one another? Each and every one of us has to answer this question.”
As Abp. Makarios told the crowd, Bp. Athanasius was a man who lived a life of preparation and readiness to meet Christ.
May his memory be eternal!
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