Cobar Catholic parish is hosting two visitors from Kenya

Visitors from Kenya, Alexander Wambua and Onesmus Kyalo, are seminarians
sponsored by the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese and are currently living in Cobar as guests
of Catholic Parish priest Fr Paul Finucane (at far right).

Cobar Catholic parish priest Fr Paul Finucane
is currently hosting two visitors
from Kenya, Alexander Wambua and
Onesmus Kyalo
Fr Paul called into our office last week to
introduce his visitors, who are seminarians
(students of theology) and preparing for the
Catholic priesthood.
The pair arrived in Australia in January
2020 to study at the Catholic Institute of Sydney
and are sponsored by the Wilcannia-
Forbes Catholic Diocese.
Onesmus said being in Cobar is a “refuge”
for them as with COVID restrictions locking
down Sydney, the Bishop decided they should
go out into the bush.
They’ve been in Cobar for the past three
weeks and are continuing with their theology
studies online and via Zoom classes.
While staying in Cobar they are assisting Fr
Paul with his duties and also learning a few
things from him.
Onesmus said Fr Paul has shared with them
stories and experiences about his life as a
priest in both Cobar and Sydney and he’s also
shared a number of meals with them and some
of his cooking tips.
“Fr Paul’s a very good cook,” he said.
Onesmus said coming from a rural area in
Kenya he feels very much at home in Cobar.
“When I go anywhere within the Diocese –
be it Narromine, Broken Hill or Cobar – I just
feel at home” he said.
Alexander said he feels the same.
“I find people here to be very hospitable,
very loving and caring.
“They can listen, share stories and talk with
you,” Alexander said.
“The other day one of the parishioners had a
bad day and we were invited to have coffee
together, which was a good sign.
“It felt good, it felt like being at home,” he
Onesmus said he was inspired to become a
priest when he was in primary school after he
saw how a local priest had interacted with children
and also the old people in his village.
He said he still had the desire to be a priest
when he was in high school.
“I told my mum about it and she said she was
going to pray about it and yeah that is how I
ended up in the seminary.”
Onesmus said he met the Bishop of Wilcannia-
Forbes (who had travelled to Kenya for
ordination) and that’s how he ended up being
sponsored to come to Australia.

Alexander said the priesthood vocation came
to him as he wanted to give back something to
“I was told you have to pray to know whether
this is your calling to become a priest.”
He said he prayed for a long time and, at one
stage, had second thoughts “because as a
priest, you’re not going to have a wife”.
He said while it meant that there would be a
lot of sacrifices he would need to make, he
decided that was the path he would choose to
He said being a priest means he can have
time to be with people.
“To help them when they need me and to
listen to them and help if I can. I feel it’s part
of my philosophy, that I am who I am because
of someone and because of other people. I need
to do something for others,” Alexander said.
Fr Paul said he’d very much enjoyed having
his two young guests stay at the presbytery
over the past three weeks.
“As a diocese here in Wilcannia-Forbes, we
are very blessed to have priests from Kenya,
from all over the world actually, our priests
come from lots of different places.
“They’ve been very generous to come here,
and to be on a mission.”
Fr Paul said he was pleased that the Cobar
community had also been generous in welcoming
the two young men to the town.
Onesmus said even if people don’t know
them, they still say ‘Hi’ which he said “really
warms his heart”.