Fr. Ben, ordained in the spring of
2020, became the Parochial Vicar
of the St. Andrew - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish region in July 2020.
Welcome, Fr. Ben!
Get to know him and his story below.
Good day, I was asked if I would like to spend some time with Fr. Ben in order to learn more about him. And, of course, I said “yes”, and it has been a very delightful experience! I am reporting the answers to 14 questions. So let us all meet Father Bensen Lokidiriyo.
"I was born in the North Western part of Kenya in Turkana county. I was named after my ‘auntie,' my father’s sister. Her name is Lotianga. She was someone that was looked upon as being like a Godparent. The meaning of her name refers to a child who was born in pasture or an open field.
I have one brother, Lomor. He is younger and is 36 years old. My younger sister is 30 years old. Her name is Asibitar. My favorite memory of them is when we used to play and swim together in the river with friends. My brother and I would search for water in the damp mud of the river bed and we would look for dry sticks for firewood. Together, we searched for fruits and berries too. Our homeland is in a desert area. Water is hard to find. Sometimes we would dig into the ground to only find a small bowl of water. Even now, I never waste water because I think someone at home needs it. People there beg for water. People can share one bowl of water. We had no soap. Soap costs money and is expensive.
My favorite childhood game was soccer. I loved to play soccer. We would wad up trash paper into a ball, then cover it with part of a plastic bag and melt the plastic to form over the ball. If we did have a real piece of fabric, I would cover it to make our very own ball!
My friends in the 7th grade, called me 'Jesus!' We had to memorize the complete story of Christ in Gethsemani. We had a play at school and I played the role of Jesus!
In grade school, my primary school was in my hometown, Kakuma. I went to high school at St. Leo the Great in 1997. We had Irish nuns who taught us. In 2001-2004, I attended the Consulata Institute of Philosophy and received a B.A. in Philosophy. In 2010-2012, I received a Master’s degree in International Relations from the U.S. International University in Nairobi, Kenya.
My favorite subject in grade school was 'Home Science.' We learned about family life, pregnancy, women in labor, foods, sewing, animal life 'in the meadows,' rabbits, chickens, eggs, what animals ate and their habitat!
In grade school, I think my classmates knew I was a good student, outgoing and wanted to be polite, generous, friendly, approachable and determined. Some would say I was shy.
In grade school and high school, I wanted to a be a nurse… anything to do with the medical field. I was inspired by the missionaries who built hospitals for my people, doing something good, changing peoples lives. Nurses took good care of my Mom. They were comforting.
My favorite food as a kid was meat, peas, carrots…. like a stew called Chapati and eaten with flat bread from a bowl.
My best childhood memory was walking one day with my Dad. Was 2 or 3 years old. He was sitting on a low stool. He lifted me up and I held onto him. I don’t know why I remember that….but I do." (Fr. Ben told me that one day before his father died, Ben was pulled out of quick sand and he recalls how his father was strong and saved him that day.)
"I did not grow up Catholic. As a young man, I went to Evangelical churches because my friends went there. It was a place full of music and celebration and food was free. It was fun to praise and worship. I had Muslim friends and yes, I tried different places to worship. I was 16 years old when I was baptized Catholic. I was in high school.
In Catholic grade school, we learned Christian teaching. Every Friday, we had teachers that just taught Catholicism.
After grade school, some of the Irish priests taught classes. I thought 'I want to be like him!' I really thought about it seriously. They were an inspiration to me."
I had MANY different jobs before entering the seminary. I was a nurse’s aid serving HIV patients. I also was a project manager working with AIDS therapy relief with a United States agency for international development in Nairobi. I worked as a Big Brother to orphaned kids infected by HIV. I participated in a research project on crime prevention and also was an office assistant.
I did not accept the call into religious life right away. I was in the seminary for 8 years in Kenya and did pastoral work and after that I did feel like I had a priestly vocation.
The best part about being a priest so far, I think, is worshiping with and for the people. And working with people...”where they are”, hoping I can offer support and guidance to them. I find that humbling. I’m not perfect.
“Have I experienced any miracles?”.....I see miracles in real day to day situations!! Not like in a vision. God has blessed me in the best way.....through His people.
If I were to offer words of wisdom to someone interested in pursuing a religious vocation, since we don’t know where we may be going, I’d say be open minded and don’t be afraid to go from your life style or attachment and do your best to give it a try.
My 2 most profound spiritual moments in my life were.........when my friend forgave me. And the day of my priestly ordination.
I have always had a passion for health care and nursing. Death affects me when I see human sorrow and I want to be there for people in their pain..........and in their joys.
I wish everyone knew that in the Catholic faith, the Eucharist is profound and this is from where we draw our life. Also, Catholic social action groups help and support all peoples of faith, not just other Catholics.
My favorite saint is St. Francis of Assisi. He was generous to everyone and he saw joy in every creature.
When I meet God, I want to say, 'God, while on earth I did my best. I’m not sure, if I was really following your will or the will of the people. I’m not sure, so I ask for your forgiveness if I did not fulfill my mission correctly.'"
HOBBIES & FAVORITES
My meetings with Fr. Ben have been delightful and fascinating. Fr. Ben has lived here in the United States since 2012 so he has grown accustomed to many of our American ways. I am learning about his culture and life in Kenya.
"What are my current hobbies? That is a good question! I love to walk everyday. First of all, I was raised to be a shepherd. We loved being out in nature and the open air. I love nature. I don’t like to be 'walled in.' I was raised to walk and sit on the ground. There is some relief and a calming effect felt when I am in nature. I loved walking in our wood lands.
What is my favorite meal to cook? Hmm......corn and beans, boiling them to eat! Then adding butter and salt. Or I cook in my Crock Pot now and close my eyes and put it all in there! I love steak! Any steak! We used to eat deer and goat steaks.........in my tribe, that is normal for us. We also eat many of the organs of the animals. It’s not wasted. And I love the aroma of it cooking.
My favorite restaurant is First Watch. I love the menu there and dishes with cucumbers, kale, tomatoes and poached eggs. I like ‘healthy bowls’ too.
I do drink coffee. I love it in the mornings. I really like herbal teas from Panera especially the orange mint tea." (Father Ben told me that many types of tea are grown on the hills in Kenya).
Father Ben was asked if he prefers Skyline or Goldstar. His answer was “ahhhh, neither!" And I told him, “that’s OK!"
When asked what dream trip he would like to take someday, he had many answers, including that he hopes to return to the Holy Land but would like to go with a group. He wants to visit Ireland. That is his first choice. Father had nuns from Ireland who taught him in his school in Kenya and he talks very lovingly of them and he smiles when he speaks of them. He hopes to visit Knock Shrine in county Mayo. He’d love to travel to Italy and Germany. When
Fr. Ben was a child growing up in Kenya, his pastor was from Germany. When this priest died, his body was returned to his home country. Fr. Ben would like to visit his grave someday to say “thank you” for all the kindness he showed to the people in his village. Ben actually would like to see all of Europe, Japan, Canada, all of the great American parks and Cape Cod!
Father Ben played soccer as a child. He enjoys power walking now, likes to play ping- pong and hand ball. He loves to watch soccer/‘foot ball," figure skating during the Olympics and surfing competitions.
“My favorite dessert is warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream!"
I asked Fr. Ben, “what makes you laugh the most”? His answer was, “I enjoy being with people who are happy and can express themselves. I love to celebrate people. I love seeing people enjoy themselves with foods, stories and friends and family. That is seeing holiness”.
When asked “what is your favorite movie?", Fr. Ben told me he enjoys movies but movie watching was not part of his culture. The first book that he read in the United States was Black Beauty.
If Father was going to sing at Karaoke night............he would sing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”..........by Elton John and George Michael.
He enjoys all kinds of music including some American country songs and he really likes the music of the English reggae and pop group, UB40.
Fr. Ben does not watch much TV and he doesn’t have Netflix...he prefers to read!
**Special thanks to Marcy Schutte for interviewing Fr. Ben and helping to share his story.
THE FINAL PART OF FR. BEN'S STORY,
"THE FUTURE," COMING SOON!
"My hopes and dreams for my priesthood journey, are to work closely with and for all people of God. I hope I can aid them in worship and work with the people “where they are”. I’d like to walk with the people of God...we’re one people, one Body in Christ. I hope to help and support them.
What am I most excited for as a new priest here? That’s a good question! I don’t have much experience in the priesthood as I am newly ordained. I hope to find good mentors and I’m very eager to learn.
What are some things I would like to see happen at St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton? We seem to be two different entities. I would like to see us working more closely together and to see peoples from both parishes develop healthy relationships.
My hopes for the parish region is for us to work in cooperation with people. I see Milford as a growing area, so we can be open and welcoming and conscience to welcoming new folks to our community. Let us welcome also, the stranger.
Right now, my final message to the parishes would be to encourage one another, that this pandemic will pass. Let’s have hope and let’s still work together. We can still look out for one another. We do still need each other even though we are distancing. Let’s keep looking out for one another.
Finally, I would like to say that we should be aware that we are all unique and different but let’s try to be more present to one another. Let’s try to be more patient. Realize we can learn from one another and promote unity and support with our 2 parishes."
**Special thanks to Marcy Schutte for interviewing Fr. Ben and helping to share his story.
THANK YOU, FR. BEN,
FOR SHARING YOUR STORY!