Pioneer Bishop of Kakamega Diocese in Kenya Acclaimed for Laying Foundation of Faith

A poster announcing the Golden Jubilee celebration of theEpiscopal Ordination of Bishop Philip Sulumeti. Credit: Kakamega Diocese

Ahead of the Golden Jubilee celebration of his Episcopal Ordination, Bishop Philip Sulumeti, the pioneer Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega in Kenya, has been lauded for his efforts to lay the foundation of faith in the Western part of the country.

In a Video recording published and circulated on Monday, October 24 by Capuchin TV in Kenya, Bishop Joseph Obanyi Sagwe hails his predecessor who started his Episcopal Ministry in August 1972 as the Auxiliary Bishop of Kisumu Diocese and whose Golden Jubilee celebration has been scheduled for Saturday, October 29 at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County.

Bishop Sulumeti has played a tremendous role in the pastoral life of the Church. When you look at Kakamega and the Metropolitan of Kisumu at large, you see the vibrance of faith,” Bishop Obanyi has said.

The Kenyan Bishop adds, “The grounding, that foundation of faith that was laid there has been strong, thanks to zealous shepherds and pastors like Bishop Sulumeti.”

Bishop Sulumeti “was able to guide the life of the Diocese of Kakamega for all these years in terms of the many many things he did,” Bishop Obanyi says about his 85-year-old predecessor who was at the helm of the Kenyan Diocese from 1978 to December 2014.


In the video recording, the Bishop who succeeded Bishop Sulumeti in March 2015 adds in reference to Kakamega Diocese, All the institutions, all the pastoral life, the spiritual life of the people there, are anchored on a man who dedicated himself fully as the Bishop and as a shepherd.”

In his close to four decades of service as the Local Ordinary of Kakamega, Bishop Sulumeti was instrumental in the development of social amenities in the region covered by the Diocese, Bishop Obanyi says, adding that his predecessor “was directly involved in healthcare, in education, and in social activity.”

“Kakamega is one of those Dioceses that boasts of many Catholic sponsored schools because of Bishop Sulumeti,” he says, adding that at a time when few people, especially girls were getting formal education, “Bishop Sulumeti made it his commitment that young people went to school by starting schools.” 

In the health sector, Bishop Obanyi says his predecessor “was not left behind.”

“We have many health institutions that he promoted, that he supported,” he says, and highlights St. Mary's Mumias Mission Hospital and St. Elizabeth Mukumu Hospital as some of the institutions pioneered by Bishop Sulumeti. 

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He was vocal in raising issues that affected the people of God in Kenya, Bishop Obanyi recalls, and says, “Bishop Sulumeti is known as one of the most outspoken Bishops who never shied away from tackling social issues and putting them clearly to the people.”

In the video recording, Bishop Obanyi further says he feels “most privileged” to have a predecessor “who is very clear in his memory, and who is very loving in his advice.”

“He has always been a support; his respect, his support, his advice, is enormous; it is overwhelming,” the 55-year-old Kenyan Bishop who was Ordained a Priest for Kenya’s Kisii Diocese and has been at the helm of Kakamega Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in March 2015 says. 

He goes on to call upon the people of God to join in the planned Golden Jubilee celebration of Bishop Sulumeti, saying, “We should all celebrate in prayer in supporting him and in thanking him for what he has been in this Diocese all the years that he served and now in his well-deserved retirement.”

“Dear Bishop emeritus Sulumeti, saying thank you is not enough but be assured of our love; be assured of our support, and be assured of our encouragement always,” Bishop Obanyi says to his predecessor, and adds, “You being among us as our father, we thank God for you.”


Bishop Obanyi further congratulates his predecessor for his Episcopal Golden Jubilee celebration and promises to always support him “even as you have retired so that you can continue to be our inspiration.” 

“You have been a father for the last 50 years and now that we celebrate the Golden Jubilee, we all rejoice for you; we thank God for you. Congratulations and happy 50 years anniversary as Bishop,” the Local Ordinary of Kakamega Diocese says.

Prior to his appointment as Local Ordinary of Kakamega in February 1978, Bishop Sulumeti had served as Bishop of Kisumu from December 1976. 

As Local Ordinary of Kisumu Diocese, he succeeded Bishop Joannes de Reeper, a member of the St. Joseph’s Missionary Society of Mill Hill (MHM) whom he had worked with when he served as Auxiliary Bishop of Kisumu. 

Bishop Sulumeti ordained many Priests, including Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kisumu Archdiocese and Bishop Mark Kadima Wamukoya of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese. 

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In the video recording circulated October 24, Bishop Kadima acclaims Bishop Sulumeti as one who “was always ready to mould us to be good Priests.”

The Local Ordinary of Bungoma says he appreciates Bishop Sulumeti’s “holistic sense of life” adding that “no aspect of human life was left out of his ministry.”

“His ministry covered everybody; dignity of life, decency, were always in him,” the member of the Clergy of Kakamega Diocese who served as a Vatican Diplomat in some seven countries before his appointment as Bishop of Bungoma says.

On his part, the Local Ordinary of Kisumu Archbishop acknowledges with appreciation the “huge influence” Bishop Sulumeti has had in his life. 

“I want to thank him very much because all this journey I have made as a Seminarian, then as a Priest, to the point of being appointed a Bishop and ordained a Bishop, he has been very close to me as a person,” Archbishop Muhatia says in the video recording.

The member of the Clergy of Kakamega Diocese who started his Episcopal Ministry in February 2010 and appointed Archbishop of Kisumu on February 18 recognizes the love of Bishop Sulumeti. 

Bishop Sulumeti, he says, “has had a huge influence on my life because of his love. He has had a huge influence on me and I have desired also in my own life, to impress upon other people, to always seek the best in life just the same way as he did with me.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.