At Memorial Mass, Kenyan-born Servant of God Remembered for Selfless Service to the Church

Foreground: Image of Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga during Holy Mass at Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi on 6 September 2021, to mark 18 years since the Kenyan Cardinal died. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi/Facebook

At Holy Mass to mark 18 years since the Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, died, the Kenyan Cardinal has been remembered for his service to the people of God whom he loved “very very dearly.”

“If there was a person who loved the Church and loved it very very dearly, it was the Servant of God, Maurice Cardinal Otunga,” the Vice Postulator for the cause of beatification and canonization of Kenyan-born Cardinal, Fr. Lawrence Njoroge, said during the memorial Mass, Monday, September 6. 

Cardinal Otunga died on 6 September 2003 at the age of 80 after suffering a cardiac arrest. His cause for canonization started in 2009 when the then Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue petitioned the Vatican-based Congregation for the Causes of Saints to approve the process.

Fr. Lawrence Njoroge, Vice Postulator for the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi/Facebook

The request was granted, allowing Cardinal Otunga to be referred to as “Servant of God”. Two years ago, various faithful who participated in the late Cardinal’s memorial Mass expressed optimism in the process of his sainthood, regarding him as probably the first Kenyan-born saint in the making.


Speaking during the September 6 memorial Mass at the Holy Family Minor Basilica of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, Fr. Njoroge said in reference to Servant of God, “When his health was good, he put in every ounce of energy into the service of the Church but even when he was experiencing challenges of health, he still worked for the Church and he offered his suffering for the Church.” 

In his homily during the Holy Mass presided over by the Apostolic Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocese, Bishop David Kamau, the Vice Postulator also described the Servant of God as a simple man of “great dignity.”

The Apostolic Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocese, Bishop David Kamau. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi/Facebook

“The Servant of God was a very simple man and he owned great dignity,” Fr. Njoroge said, and explained, “He was so dignified that when he preached in this Basilica, he held this place to be holy ground.”

The Kenyan Priest added that for the Servant of God who was Kenya’s first native Cardinal, “The liturgy was sacred and nobody would convince the Servant of God, Maurice Cardinal Otunga, especially the political class, that they would come and deliver their messages from here (pulpit).” 

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Fr. Njoroge also described the Servant of God as one who “loved the word providence.”

“Whatever he did was in the context of providence, that is, of the goodness of God, of the graciousness of God,” said the Priest who was appointed Vice Postulator of the cause in December 2019

Those who knew the Servant of God, Fr. Njoroge said, “have no doubt that not long ago, a good and holy man lived among us.”

“Let us pray that the process of his beatification will be successful,” the member of Clergy of Nairobi Archdiocese implored.

On her part, the Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocesan office of the Causes of Saints, Sr. Esther Ichugu said the Church in Kenya is “privileged to have Maurice Cardinal Otunga as a model of virtue. He lived in our midst and is living today through his virtues of heroic values.”


A section of the congregation during memorial Mass of the Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga on 6 September 2021. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi/Facebook

In her message, Sr. Ichugu said Cardinal Otunga’s process is in the hands of the Postulator in Rome. 

The Kenyan Nun added that the cause will soon “be tabled to Cardinals and theologians and upon an anonymous vote, the Servant of God will be declared Venerable.”

The member of the Dimesse Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (FMI) called on Christians “to pray seriously for the process, to pray for an extraordinary miracle, to support the process in donations, to have patience because Rome was not built in one day.”

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.