Year Joined MKLM: 2000
Focus: Education and Leadership Training
Project: Financial management, Diocese of Kitale
Goals of Ministry: To build the capacities of diocesan personnel and project staff to financially manage the many programs and projects of the diocese that serve poor and marginalized communities.
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale is located in western Kenya and covers both Trans Nzoia County and Pokot County. The population of the diocese is 1.8 million, of which approximately 400,000 (or 22%) is Catholic. Kitale is the main town within the diocese. It is a small and growing city in an agricultural area. The population of Kitale is diverse, comprised of Kenyans originating from many parts of the country.
The mission of the Diocese of Kitale is to promote the faith throughout the diocese and to work in partnership with local communities to improve their living standards through holistic development of the residents within the jurisdiction of the diocese. For the diocese to meet this obligation, it has two directorates, the pastoral and Caritas directorates, While the pastoral directorate deals with the spiritual and faith-based development, the Caritas directorate, which is the local church’s humanitarian and development arm, deals with the general development of the community in areas of livelihood, peace & justice, education, health and water services, emergency and relief services. The diocese has a strong voice in promoting justice and peace, gender development and youth issues.
I work in the finance department of the diocese, which facilitates the implementation of diocesan programming.
The diocese places a strong emphasis on education. It supervises approximately 600 primary schools and 100 secondary schools. The diocese also has six health facilities, including two hospitals with inpatient services. The diocese has empowered women’s and men’s groups through support of income-generating activities. There are 31 parishes in the diocese, with 602 outstations. The parishes are now all overseen by local clergy.
A total of 13 Maryknoll lay missioners served in the Diocese of Kitale during the period from 2001 to 2016. They worked in a variety of projects: Kitale AIDS Project, Kiminini Cottage Hospital, St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre, St. Raphael’s Clinic Matisi, Ortum Mission Hospital, St. Michael’s Secondary School, CDK Gender Department, St. Monica’s Girls Secondary School, St. Anthony’s Boys Secondary School, and Weaver Bird Secondary School. The Kiltegan Fathers (St. Patrick’s Missionary Society) have had a strong mission presence in Kitale, including as the bishop. There are numerous local orders of Catholic men and women religious active in the diocese. Many Catholic donor organizations have been active in the diocese as well, including Catholic Relief Services.
Russ is originally from Seattle, where he was active in St. Joseph Parish. He is both an accountant and a lawyer. Russ studied at the University of Washington in Seattle and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2000 and went to Kenya, where his ministries included serving as the finance manager at St. Martin’s School in Nairobi, and then serving for 10 years as project manager for the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre in the Diocese of Kitale. The project served children from displaced pastoralist families who had fled from drought and hunger. It took children off the streets and put them in schools. Many have now completed vocational training courses and some have even gone to college.
In 2016 Russ transferred to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where for the next five years he worked as finance manager with the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme (DDP) and as regional director of Maryknoll Lay Missioners. His leadership in finance, management and donor relations contributed to the inspiring successes of DDP’s outstanding ministry serving the Deaf community of Cambodia. He returned to serve in Kitale in October 2021.