(2018) Who would have thought that a Kenyan assistant to Bishop Paride Taban would respond “Yes” when Bishop Taban asked him to consider being a priest for Torit. Because he was a bit older than most seminarians he was sent to Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, MA where he began his four years of Theological Training. While there he discovered ROTA and requested that we be able to assist him with some supply fees each semester. Our board willingly agreed and our relationship with Richard Odour began. Three years later he shared with us a video of his Deaconate Ordination that took place at Holy Family Parish in Nairobi, Kenya. Richard made a brief visit to Buffalo to meet some of his benefactors and to personally invite us to his priesthood ordination that was to take place the next year.
The Papal Nuncio, a delegate of the Holy Father to Kenya and South Sudan presided over his Deaconate Ordination and was scheduled to preside over his ordination to the priesthood. This however was not to be as the Nuncio took ill and returned to Rome. However he delegated the now retired bishop of Torit, Paride Taban, the same one who invited Richard to first consider such a vocation to preside. Early May 2018 found me making my first journey to Kenya to support Richard at his priesthood ordination.
The USA delegation included myself, a deacon classmate, and newly ordained priest, and a seminary professor from John XXIII in Weston, MA. A grace filled moment was to be had before the ordination when I had the opportunity to visit again with Bishop Taban. He had been our guest in Buffalo back in December of 2003 and I thought I’d never have the chance to see him again but as the Holy Spirit would have it the impossible is made possible and we would have the chance to catch up; I being constantly impressed by the wisdom of this Shepherd of the Church. As soon as we saw each other we ran to greet each other; it was like one of those slow motion “Kodak” moments. In his retirement, Bishop Taban had been working tirelessly with primitive peoples who have little exposure to the outside world. Now he was with us in Nairobi being greeted constantly by many who traveled far and wide for even the briefest visit with this holy Man of God.
On Saturday morning, May 12th the church was prepared and populated with a generous cross section of peoples from Richard’s family, Kenyan friends, members of Holy Family Parish where Richard served as a lay person, representatives of the Diocese of Torit, and our USA delegation. After the Gospel Richard’s parents brought him into the church so he could answer the Deacon’s call to orders.
The ordination was extra special due to Bishop Taban’s presence, as well as all who attended. The choir, tribal Liturgical Dancers, community marching band all made the ceremony of Holy Orders so very special. The Sacrament of Holy Orders includes a welcome to the priesthood by all the priests in attendance.
The Mass concluded with Richard bestowing his first priestly blessing upon his humble bishop and friend, his parents, and adopted parents.