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Catholic Clergy, Laity Eulogize Kenyan Priest, Professor as Advocate of Peace in Families

The late Fr. Peter Ignatius Gichure who died 31 July 2021. The member of the Clergy of Kenya's Nakuru Diocese was an Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Peace Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Credit: Catholic Diocese of Nakuru

Members of the Clergy and the Laity in Kenya have paid glowing tribute to the late Kenyan Priest and University Professor, Fr. Peter Ignatius Gichure, describing him as one who advocated for Catholic marriage, family life, and peace among family members. 

Fr. Gichure died Saturday, July 31 at the age of 62, while receiving treatment for a “short illness” at the St. Mary’s Hospital Lang’ata in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, the leadership of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), where he was serving as the Director of the School of Graduate Studies announced in a Facebook post.

At the time of his demise, the member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese was also serving as the coordinating Priest of the Catholic Engaged Encounter in Kenya and the Pan African World-Wide Marriage Encounter (WWME) Movement.

“He was an advocate of marriages. Father was a lover of families. He was concerned and wanted to see families live in peace. His concern was to see the family stand,” a former member of the National Marriage Encounter Ecclesial Team in Kenya, Salome Mwangi told ACI Africa Tuesday, August 3. 

Mrs. Mwangi added that in his effort to ensure families stood strong, Fr. Gichure “would take us on retreats even with our children."

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"He would listen to our children, understand their issues at their level, and he would help them," she said. 

The Kenyan Catholic faithful, who together with her spouse worked closely with the late Priest when they served as WWME officials between 2007 and 2016, also eulogized Fr. Gichure as “very resourceful.”

“He would help us to understand the Canon Law teachings about marriage,” she recalled her encounters with the late Priest who offered lectures at CUEA for decades, and added, “He gave us good tips on how to get funds for the Dioceses and the PanAfrican WWME. He had very good ideas.” 

"Father was also a generous, learned and selfless person," Mrs. Mwangi further eulogized the professor in Dogmatic Theology.

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Ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Nakuru in October 1984, Fr. Gichure studied Philosophy at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Mabanga, in Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese, and Theology at St. Thomas Aquinas National Major Seminary in Nairobi Archdiocese.

The alumnus of the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium where he obtained a Master's degree in Peace Studies and PhD in Theology and Peace Studies respectively was an Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Peace Studies at CUEA main campus, in Nairobi.

Since 2001, he has been serving as the Theological Advisor of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Kenya.

He was also a member of the Bishop's Council of Consultants in Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. 

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In an interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Casmir Odundo, a member of the Clergy of Nakuru Diocese, described the late Priest as “a good friend” who “blended easily with all Priests.”

“He loved all Priests and interacted with all of us both young and old,” Fr. Odundo recalled, and added, “To us young Priests, Fr. Gichure was like a father. (He) was a generous man, very open to everyone and easy to approach."

“I have also learnt to embrace the young people who join the Priesthood because that is what he did. He related to us young Priests in a very positive way," the Priest serving at Christ the King Cathedral of Nakuru told ACI Africa August 3, recalling the late Fr. Gichure.

For Steven Keezamutima, Fr. Gichure was a great friend and an advisor.

“He was very dear to me and really a great friend,” Mr. Keezamutima told ACI Africa, adding that Fr. Gichure “was ready to listen, very supportive, very friendly and welcoming.”

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“Fr. Gichure, besides his position, was very approachable. He would mingle with everyone despite his status,” said the Program Manager in the office of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creations Franciscans Africa (JPIC-FA).

Mr. Keezamutima added that the late Cleric “was always ready to handle issues.”

“Even though he was old, he was always cheerful around the youth,” he recalled.

“Some deaths are very, very painful,” Alice Muchiri posted on her Facebook wall July 31, and added, “Go well Rev Prof. Peter Ignatius Gichure. You have finished the race faithfully. From you we have learnt the true meaning of authentic living, the true meaning of faithful priesthood, the value of Education and its application to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.”

She further eulogized, “Fr. Gichure for all your goodness and faithfulness to what God called you to be, May He grant you everlasting peace. May your Patron Saint St. Ignatius on whose Feast Day you have departed this world keep you company in heaven. Pray for us Father.”