From East to West….A tribute to Cosmas Ondari mhm
“Mine is a parish like all the rest, they are all alike”, says the withering priest in Robert Bresson’s luminous film, The Diary of a Country Priest! The self-effacing Cosy goes about his business of teaching, healing and sanctifying. But what has he to show for it? Less than nothing! A fatal afternoon of a live bullet! Cosy, like Jesus of the Gospel dies at three, after three years working and walking the rural country side of Kembong, at thirty three! This priest, this Cosy, a friend and a confidant of sorts, nothing will take his hand off his flock, even death, soaked in blood. The Cosy I knew over ten years in a Mill Hill house of Jinja, both of us as students pursuing a Mill Hill vocation had not changed: alive and warm at heart, loving even those who resisted this virtue so ancient yet ever new! If his killers and the haters of peace had known, they would not have killed a priest of God.
But grace is everywhere, yes grace is everywhere because God became one of us and became a sacramental sign through the outpouring of his blood. An unmistakable catch with one phrase” grace comes dressed as a human being. Yes, even the suffering Cosy dying in an obscure parish becomes the chosen vessel to the things pertaining to God. Such is not only the mystery of Mill Hill missionary life and the priesthood in general, but also of grace that transforms all for whom Cosy gave up his life.
If Hope and Love seem to vanish in a cruel world of political lies and systemic injustices, the literally slain Cosy, is a sign of the dignity of all human life, and lest we have any doubts, the sign of God, was made known in the death of Cosy, rising from the East (Kenya) to the West(Cameroon) to offer a perfect sacrifice for his own, his parishioners and love for his High Priest he embodied.
May his family in Kisii and all he touched continue to find rest that after our life is ended down here below, will one day rejoice with him in the life to come.
Kenneth Ouma Wandera, GHM
Knoxville Diocese, USA