And controversial Zambian archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is set to rub his former church the wrong way as he arrives in the country in a fortnight to ordain two bishops of the Married Priests Now! movement.
The priests, from Machakos, Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri dioceses, converged in Machakos to lay ground for their big day.
The occasion was the largest gathering of renegade priests since the local Catholic Church started witnessing rebellion among its clergy.
The priests met at the home of the Rev (Dr) Fr Daniel Kasomo in Katelembo on Saturday, where they celebrated Mass and then had lunch with some worshippers.
Their host introduced his wife and four children to the group, saying he was no longer living a life “full of deception”.
Dr Kasomo, who teaches at Maseno University, and his counterpart from Methodist University, Fr (Dr) Peter Njogu, formerly of the Nyeri Diocese, led their colleagues in declaring that they had no regrets for joining the new outfit.
The priests in the new group include Fr John Ndung’u, formerly of Murang’a Diocese, Fr Chrisantus Muasya, Fr Joseph Makau, Fr Peter Kaloki, Fr Justin Kilonzo and Fr Joseph Makau.
Seven deacons - Justus Mukili, Cosmas Mule, Stephen Kathukya, Andrew Kioi, Geoffrey Ngare, Thomas Musinya and Peter Kinyanjui - also broke ranks to join the new out fit.
The movements founder, Archbishop Milingo, who is married, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 2006 after he ordained four married men as bishops.
Two weeks ago, another faction, the Reformed Catholic Church, ordained its new head in Kenya at Kitale and a new priest at a function in Kisumu.
The renegades say they have not run away from the Roman Catholic Church but want to bring change from within.
Priests from the Married Priests Now! movement, formed early last year, are expected to be officially incorporated into the new church and given higher roles after attending a conference in Lang’ata, Nairobi, on June 28.
The conference will be followed by the consecration of new bishops, Fr Kasomo, formerly of Machakos Diocese, and Fr Benoit Mitchel from Canada.
During the function at his home, Dr Kasomo said more priests were ready to join the new church.
“Many priests are tired of living a life full of lies. They want to openly admit what they have been hiding from for many years,” he said.
The latest move has ignited sharp reactions from the church and in some quarters Dr Kasomo’s crusade is viewed with suspicion.
With the Vatican’s new orders giving bishops authority to excommunicate errant faithful, the dice seems to be cast for the rebel priests.
Dr Kasomo, a senior lecturer in Religion, Theology and Philosophy, says plans are underway to set up a cathedral in Machakos. This is likely to bring him into sharp conflict with his former boss, Bishop Martin Kivuva, who has cautioned the faithful to be careful with the new outfit.
Dr Kasomo confesses that he had a steady girlfriend who had his first child by the time he was ordained a priest in 1992.
“The child was born in 1987 and is in the university. Her mother, a secondary school principal, is today my wife and a proud mum of four children, the last born being just two years old,” he said.
He claims the traditional Catholic Church is in dire straits because of a shortage of priests. Priests are serving up to 30 parish stations, he says.
“In the face of this crisis, there are married men who can also be called to the priesthood”, he said.
The priest says that their main goal is to return married priesthood as it was with St Peter, the first pope.
“From the time of Christ up to 12th century, priests, bishops and popes were married. Christ called Married Men,” he defended himself.
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