Kenyan Priest Who Left Formation to Work as Security Officer Recounts Painful Journey

Fr Michael Mutai, a Clergy of Kenya's Eldoret Diocese, serving as Parish Priest of Good Shepherd Kakuma of Lodwar Diocese in Kenya.

Growing up, Fr Michael Mutai always wanted to become a Priest of the Catholic Church. It is this deep desire that steered the Kenyan Catholic Priest against all odds including abject poverty, an illness and discouragement to eventually realize his long-term dream.

Fr. Mutai reveals that at one point during his formation to the Priesthood, he, alongside other Seminarians, were discontinued from the formation program and told to “go home and become good Christians.”

He recalls working as a security officer in the period following the dismissal. But this didn’t deter him from following his dream, he says.

Today, Fr. Mike, as he is fondly referred to in Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, has been serving the Turkana, one of the marginalized tribes in Kenya, for three year. He says he feels accomplished.

“Growing up I knew I needed to help people, by serving as a catholic Priest,” Fr. Mike says in an interview with Sr. Esther Muturi, a Communications student at Tangaza University, a constituent College of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).  


The 43-year-old Cleric who is the Parish Priest of Good Shepherd Kakuma in Lodwar Diocese was born in Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Eldoret where he grew up admiring the life of Priests in his local Church.

“I particularly admired Fr. Ruiru, who was the Parish Priest then. Becoming a Priest was a childhood dream nurtured in high school. I was in touch with many Congregations by the time I was in form three,” he recalls.

Fr. Mike had a humble background and his parents could barely afford to keep him in school. For some time, he worked at a hotel for months to clear fee arrears to obtain his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) completion certificate in order to submit the required documents to join the Major Seminary.

With donations from well-wishers, he cleared the fee arrears and began his journey to Priesthood at St Mary’s Major Seminary, Molo, in Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese.

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A journey that was supposed to take eight years ended up running into 12 years and it was riddled with a lot of setbacks, Fr. Mike shares in the interview with Sr. Muturi, a member of the Little Sisters of St. Francis (L.S.O.S.F).

Later, while enrolled in the Theology program at St. Matthias Mulumba Tindinyo Major Seminary in Kenya's Eldoret Diocese, he was dismissed along with all his classmates.

“Bishop Korir told us to go home and become good Christians,” he sadly recalled.

He shares, concerning the dismissal, “My dreams to be a Catholic Priest were shattered; I did not know what else to do. It was a devastating and heart-breaking time in my life. I went home, to try and strategize on how to begin life afresh.”

He would later be employed as a security officer at the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa where he guarded shops for a year before landing a teaching job.


He was thrilled when in 2008, the then Bishop of Eldoret, the late Cornelius Korir recalled him for formation.

“I joined the Apostles of Jesus in Nairobi. My dream to be a Priest was rejuvenated. The journey was okay as I joined a religious formation, where the spirit to be a missionary was born since I am a Diocesan Priest,” he shares, and adds, “After my ordination, I informed the Bishop that I would wish to serve either in the mission land or the Military as a chaplain.”

Unfortunately, the new Priest was involved in an accident in which he broke his right hand, locking away the opportunity he had to join the military. On recovery, he enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at CUEA in Nairobi and graduated in 2017.

It was at this point that Fr. Mike asked to accomplish his dream of becoming a missionary and ended up in Lodwar Diocese.

Sharing about his experience being a Missionary in the hardship area, the Kenyan Cleric says, “Working in Lodwar has been fulfilling and challenging at equal measure. I have seen people facing real poverty and the most vulnerable members of the society.”

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“Those who are deep in the villages, majority live and rely on divine providence. I have found a great need for evangelization at the same time a need for education. I have come to realize that education is not a priority to this group of people, something I have and is trying to work on,” he further shares.

Education is the biggest challenge among the tribe who, the Priest says, still value retrogressive culture.

He says that many boys stay away from school and stay at home where they are oriented towards taking care of the family and community property. The boys, he says, “look after the animals all their lives in the bush until they become adults.”

“While in the bush, they are trained on how to protect the animals and how to raid from the neighbors for more,” Fr. Mike says.

He continues, “The desire to have more animals for wealth and bride price which is very high among these people forces the uneducated young boys to raid from the neighbors in order to meet the demand. This is coupled by the belief that anyone who is an outsider is an enemy.”

Young girls, on the other hand, are prepared to become responsible wives and do not care about going to school.

Fr. Mike has been hailed for his efforts to evangelize the people in one of the remotest and marginalized regions in the East African country, key among them, converting makeshift Churches to more permanent buildings.

Through people of good will, he has managed to change thirteen makeshift churches to semi-permanent churches.

During the weekdays, the churches are used as kindergarten facilities, with an aim of bringing education near the people. Fr. Mike feels that the government needs to ensure that schools are near the people because some need to walk as far as 30 kilometers in order for them to access the nearest school.

“I feel that there is a great need for the provision of basic amenities like water, food, health facilities among others,” he says, and goes on to propose, “I recommend for dams to be built near people’s dwellings to allow them to do some farming, as many suffer from malnutrition, due to lack of proper diet.”

The Cleric quotes John Paul II, who said, “There will always be the sick to love, youngsters to guide, disappointment to console. There is and there shall ever be people to love and save in Christ’s name. This is your vocation, it ought to make you happy and fulfilled.”

He says that a lot is still to be done in Kenya’s Diocese of Lodwar and calls for more partners both local and foreign to assist in “transforming Lodwar for Christ.”

Sr. Esther Muturi of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis (L.S.O.S.F), a Communications student at Tangaza University College conducted the interview used in this story.