, 24 August, 2020 / 9:00 PM
Two decades after the reported assassination of the U.S.-born Mill Hill Missionary, Fr. John Anthony Kaiser, a Kenyan Bishop has decried the failure on the part of relevant authorities to account for the death of the Cleric who was vocal about injustices and fought for the rights of the marginalized in society.
“It is now 20 years since he was killed and body dumped in Naivasha. His killers have not been brought to book till today. Where is justice?” Bishop John Oballa Owaa of Kenya’s Ngong diocese probed Sunday, August 23 during Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, Ngong, one of the places where the 20th anniversary of Fr. Kaiser’s assassination took place.
Bishop Oballa who chairs the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) added, “We continue to pray that justice is served, that those who killed him can be found so that we pray for their conversion.”
During the event, Bishop Oballa also bemoaned religious persecutions in the world saying, “Many people continue to be killed for their religious stand in many parts of the world. In some places, churches and religious symbols are attacked and even destroyed.”
“We live in a world that grows cold, divided and hostile. A world where religious persecutions abound,” the 62-year-old Kenyan Prelate said and added, “This unchecked hatred must be addressed.”
He urged Christians to continue praying “so that what Fr. Kaiser stood for may live on in us: to stand against injustice, to speak for those who are weak and suffering as a result of injustices, to stand against anything that robs the society of the progress that is required such as corruption.”
The memorial, which was held under the theme, “Solidarity and Justice for the Vulnerable" also trended online under the hashtag #RememberingKaiser.
To mark the anniversary, Executive Secretaries and Coordinators of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) in Mombasa Metropolitan comprising of Mombasa Archdiocese, as well as Malindi and Garissa Dioceses on Monday, August 23 donated 150 kilograms of assorted cereals to Pope Francis Rescue Home for Child Victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.
The donation is the first in a series of charity efforts by the Mombasa Metropolitan CJPC family planned to take place throughout this week in marking the 20th Anniversary of the death of Rev. Fr. John A. Kaiser, CJPC Malindi Executive Secretary, Moses Mpuria posted on Facebook.
In the same Diocese of Malindi, Fr. Thomas Ngong, also a member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, described the late Fr. Kaiser as a model leader and invited Christians to emulate him. Fr. Thomas was presiding over Mass at St. Joseph Freinademetz Church, Witu Kipini Parish on Sunday, August 23.
With five Mill Hill Missionary Clerics, the Diocese of Malindi has an elaborate Fr. Kaiser Memorial Charity program, with parishioners fund raising annually in August to support the initiative.
Fr. Kaiser’s lifeless body was found lying next to a shotgun with a wound on the back of his head on the morning of August 24, 2000 along Kenya’s Nakuru-Nairobi highway, near his place of ministry.
The native of Minnesota in the U.S. was killed five months after he had been awarded the Law Society of Kenya annual Human Rights Award for being “a study in courage, determination and sacrifice on behalf of the weak, oppressed and downtrodden.”
Born on November 23, 1932, Fr. Kaiser had been ordained a Mill Hill Priest in 1964 and commissioned to Kenya.
At the request of Catholic Bishops in Kenya following his death, the Kenyan government opened an inquest into his death, which ended on June 12, 2007 after hearing from 111 witnesses.
The presiding Magistrate, ruled on August 1, 2007 that Fr. Kaiser was murdered, and that the “suicide theory” that had been floated by the Kenyan government and FBI was based on pre-conceived notion.
The Magistrate further stated that she could not, on the basis of evidence tabled before her in the inquest, point out with certainty who Fr. Kaiser’s killers were.
“If I die, let it be but let people be given their rights,” Fr. Kaiser was often quoted as saying.
“Twenty years after his death... Fr. Kaiser’s memorial anniversary has become not only a commemoration of his death but a day to remember the oppressed, the poor, and the injustice that takes place in our society,” members of KCCB said in an anniversary message published in a Kenyan Daily on Saturday, August 22.
They added, “Fr. John A. Kaiser (MHM), it has been twenty (20) years since you left us under tragic circumstances. It is regrettable that those who took your life away so brutally have still not been brought to Justice.”
“You remain alive in the hearts and minds of your relatives, Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM), the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Friends, Civil Society and other people of Kenya whom you served dearly. May God grant Fr. Kaiser Eternal Rest, Amen,” KCCB members concluded.
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