Retired Kenyan Bishop, Second African Prelate to Succumb to COVID-19

Late Bishop Emeritus Silas Silvius Njiru of Kenya's Meru Diocese. He succumbed to COVID-19 on Tuesday, April 28 in Italy, aged 91.
Credit: Public Domain

The Bishop Emeritus of Kenya’s Meru Diocese, Bishop Silas Silvius Njiru succumbed to COVID-19 in the early hours of Tuesday, April 28 in Italy where he has been residing. He was 91.

“Bishop Silas Njiru was residing at the Blessed Joseph Allamano house in Alpignano, Turin Italy. He was taken to Rivoli Hospital, due to COVID-19 infection, where he passed away on Tuesday, April 28 at 12.30 a.m.,” the Secretary General of the Consolata Missionaries, Fr. Pedro Jose da Silva Luoro announced in a statement.

He added, “Let us pray for his Eternal Rest.”

Bishop Silas is the second African Prelate to die of COVID-19 after Bishop Gérard Mulumba Kalemba of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who died on April 15 at the age of 82.

Born in Meru, eastern Kenya in 1928, the late Kenyan-born Bishop was ordained a priest in December 1955. 

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Meru in October 1975, and ordained a Bishop in January 1976. He was appointed Bishop of Meru diocese in December 1976, a position he held for 28 years when he retired in 2004. 

He was succeeded by Bishop Salesius Mugambi, the current Bishop of the diocese.

The Late Bishop Silas dedicated his service to the well-being of the people of God in the community. He was instrumental in helping Kenya's Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), George Kinoti and his six siblings who had been abandoned by their father, ensuring they were well taken care of. 

Because of Bishop Silas' influence, the young George Kinoti wanted to be Priest, the DCI was quoted as saying in an interview with Kenya’s Star newspaper.

Meanwhile, Congolese Bishop Gérard Mulumba Kalemba who also succumbed to COVID-19 was laid to rest April 16 at the St. Kaggwa Seminary cemetery in the capital of DRC, Kinshasa.

He had been undergoing care at the Ngaliema clinic in Kinshasa before his death, RECOWA reported. 

The late Bishop Mulumba was uncle to the current President of DRC, Felix Tshisekedi. 

In March, the Bishop of Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate also succumbed to the pandemic. The Italian-born Bishop, Angelo Moreschi died while undergoing treatment in his home country aged 67.

Africa has recorded at least 33,500 cases of COVID-19, including 10,150 recoveries and 1460 deaths, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]