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After 50 years of service in Kenya, humble Catholic priest returns to Italy with all his worldly possessions packed in two small bags

Kenyans on social media have paid glowing tribute to Father Adolf Poll who has returned to Italy after 50 years of missionary work in Kenya.

Fr. Poll, fondly known as “Father Alleluia”, served in the Catholic dioceses of Kisii and Malindi between 1968 and this year. He celebrated his farewell Mass at Witu-Kipini Parish in Malindi last Sunday (Pentecost).

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Malindi, said in a statement issued yesterday: “Today, 25th May 2021, the Missionary Priest, who will celebrate his 81st birthday next week (3rd June), packed all his personal belongings acquired during his more than five decades of Priestly Ministry in Kenya, fitting in just two small bags, and started his journey back home in Italy for retirement.”

From Italy to Kenya

Fr. Alleluia was ordained as a priest in 1966 in his home diocese of Bolzano-Brixen, Northern Italy. He left his hometown of South Tyrol at the border of Italy and Austria in December 1968 to serve as a Mill Hill Missionary in Kenya.

After 31 years in the Catholic Diocese of Kisii (1969 to 2000), he was posted to Malindi where he worked till his retirement.

Fr Alleluia leaves for Italy TV47
Fr. Alleluia and St Joseph Freinademetz church in Witu-Kipini Parish, Malindi, one of the last churches where he served in Kenya. PHOTOS/COURTESY

But what has wowed Kenyans on social media –those who knew him and those who didn’t- was his legendary humility and detachment from material possessions. In Kisii, where he served at Nyabururu, Nyamagwa, and Nyansiongo parishes, he moved around in an old Toyota pick-up truck that pitter-pattered as if on an ague.

“He pinched me masikio (ears) when I was very young akanirusha kwa pickup yake (and flung me into the back of his truck),” writes Romg Romg on Facebook.  

“May God our father bless him as he retires but I wish I could meet him once more. I first met him in 1983 while I was a young boy and he was the father in charge at Nyamagwa parish,” writes Bernard Maraga.

In Malindi, Fr. Alleluia moved around in a motorcycle. He was known for his minimalism and selfless generosity. He never accumulated any material possessions.  And so when it was time to leave Kenya for good, he collected all his earthly belongings into two small bags.  

St Andrew Kaggwa Nyansiongo Parish in Kisii diocese during its official opening May, 2019. The priest worked at the diocese from 1969-2000) PHOTO/COURTESY

“Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” – Luke 9:3-6

Mill Hill Missionaries said in their newsletter last February: “We thank him (Fr. Alleluia) for the inspiration and selfless service rendered to the area (Malindi). We render immense thanks to God for his life and wish him good health as he returns home.”

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