To pen down this piece that honours your departure to heavenly glory omin, wuod Asembo, Goddy, (my brother from Asembo, Gordon), is my perfect way to begin the healing process to the fact that the ground of our beloved ancestors have swallowed your ever smiling face.
Indeed what we are left with are few photos, here and there, and many unprinted memories of your smile, laughter and zeal for life in our minds. Nothing more to tell God and you, but only to exclaim; Dieu, Merci!
Fr Gordon, we thank God for everything!
We thank God that in His infinite merciful love, He brought you here on earth, on the 07th day in the tenth month, forty six years ago, at Ujwang`a village, in the then Nyanza Province, now Siaya County, Lwak Parish. Born of the Late Fredrick Okoth Ondito and mama Lewnora Asewe, you acquired the earthly flesh and got raised up among seven other persons. And, Goddy, through this biological and cultural family, we thank God, you came to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in the Catholic faith till your demise!
We thank the Lord who showed you the way to the Kisumu Town Fish Youth Group. This is a Catholic youth group based in the Kisumu Archdiocese. Three years after its foundation in 1985 by Rev. Fr. Antony Chandry, MHM, a Mill Hill Priest and Rev. Sr. Mary Ellen Howard, SND, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, you became its member. And, Goddy, we thank God, you were a faithful member of Fish (as it is shortly known) till your demise!
We thank God that he called you to the Holy Orders. This high vocation started on your ordination day, the 27th November 2002 in St. Peter Clavers Catholic Church, Lwak Parish, with the imposition of hands and anointing from His Grace the Most Rev. Zaccheus Okoth, the Archbishop of Kisumu (by then, now Emeritus). And, Goddy, we thank God that you lived faithfully and piously this sacramental grace of your priestly ministry here on earth till your demise!
We thank the Lord that we shared a spiritual, missionary family, Instituto Missioni Consolata, IMC. As you depart from this earthly life, you had attained 23 years old in our religious family. To me and many others like Rev. Fr. David Oginga, IMC, your Parish mate, Rev. Fr. Sylvester Ogutu, IMC and Rev. Fr. Joseph Oiye, IMC, both of whom you fished from Raliew Secondary School, you were our elder brother in this religious family. I fondly remember special moments we shared together. You took with a lot of dedication the noble but heavy responsibility of showing us the way to live as a happy smiling IMC despite the challenges we meet in the missions. And, Goddy, we thank God, you were indeed a ‘big’ brother and a model of a jovial missionary full of zeal for missions till your demise!
Some of these special moments we lived them in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in Kinshasa Archdiocese (La paroisse St. Hilaire) and later you left for Isiro-Niangara Diocese (La paroisse de Neisu, Nolwa, Somana et Maison d’acceuil et de service- Isiro). Yes. Goddy, you were at one time our Vice Regional Superior in the Congo Region. And for that service we thank the Lord.
We equally lived those wonderful moments in our motherland Kenya, particularly in Kakamega Diocese (the new Bukaya Parish). Here, you spearheaded both the constructions of the new church building and the parish clergy residential house. And, Goddy, in all these missions, we thank God that you touched the life of all persons without any discrimination whatsoever of level of education, social rank, age, sex, race, cult, or tribe till your demise!
And Goddy, you left us for the heavenly glory on the 26 November 2019 at 2.20PM at the MP Shah Hospital, Nairobi. A news that was shocking. Should we, therefore, thank the Lord? Smilingly, you would tell us “Yes!” May the will of the Lord be done! Ours is to thank Him.
Now that your body is laid to rest in the Consolata graveyard Mathari, Nyeri on the 4th day of December 2019 after the battle you had with illness, who are we not to thank God for your earthly life, full of jovial moments.
On this date, twenty-seven days to end the year 2019, the Italian War Memorial Church which houses the remains of 676 mostly Italian soldiers (few of other nationalities) incarcerated and exterminated by the British during the second World War was fully packed by those whom you touched their lives.
The Requiem Mass that marked your final journey here on earth before laying your body six feet under was celebrated by His Grace the Most Rev. Peter Joseph Kairo, the Archbishop Emeritus of Nyeri Archdiocese. Several of your brother priests and religious were in prayer and solemn mood with His Grace as we celebrate the five-hour mystery you totally gave your life for here on earth. Your dear mum, siblings, relatives, friends and parishioners of both St Peter Clavers Catholic, Lwak Parish and Our Holy Mother Mary Comforter of the afflicted, Bukaya Parish also graced the occasion.
Confessing that he neither thought nor dreamt jamais of preaching on your burial day, Rev. Fr. Jude Katende, IMC, your longtime friend and confrere with whom you journeyed during the years and same milieu of basic formation right from Kisumu, Nairobi, Sagana to Colombia, attested in his homily that you indeed manifested in your simple life, one who Christ called in His vineyard with conviction and dedication. Your life is a gospel, for God spoke to us many things through you, especially perseverance, love for the mission, joy and love of prayer even in the illness.
As the Mass was about to end, some selected persons shared their tributes to the congregation. These were: Rev. Fr Peter Njoroge, IMC, who read ad verbatim your eulogy; Rev. Fr. Michael Njue, IMC, your formator in the seminary; Rev. Fr. Kevin, your home parish priest; a Priest Representative of the Bishop of Kakamega; a Lay Representative of Bukaya Parish, a Representative of your biological and cultural family; Rev Fr. Zack Kariuki, IMC, your companion in the Seminary days; Rev Fr. Peter Munguti Makau, IMC, the Regional Superior (Kenya-Uganda Region); and His Grace the Most Rev. Peter J. Kairo. And Goddy, we thank God all of them talked well of your earthly life. They also consoled your biological, cultural and religious family.
For the Late Rev. Fr. Gordon Okoth’s dear life and missionary work, we acclaim ‘to God be praise and thanks forever more’!