Politicians Can Become Saints, Kenyan Catholic Bishop Says, Calls for Service to Poor

Bishop Joseph Obanyi of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega, Kenya, Credit: Courtesy photo

All people despite their social status, including politicians, are called to live a life of holiness and have an equal opportunity to become saints, the Bishop of Kenya’s Kakamega Diocese has said.

In his Wednesday, November 17 homily on the Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Bishop Joseph Obanyi used the life of St. Elizabeth to call upon the wealthy and politicians to consider service to the poor.

Bishop Obanyi who was presiding over Holy Mass at St. Elizabeth Mukumu Mission hospital of Kakamega Diocese reflected on the cultural perception of politicians who he said are regarded as mere liars and corrupt people without integrity in Kenya.

“St Elizabeth breaks the tradition where people thought that when you become a politician then you automatically become a liar; that when you become a politician then you are destined to corruption,” Bishop Obanyi observed. 

He added, “Dear Christians, there is a possibility that even here in Kenya, we have politicians who are truly serving God, who are ever telling the truth, who are serving people with love and not for money, who care for the wellbeing of the people more than even their own wellbeing.”


The Kenyan Bishop said that the people of God in the East African nation have a responsibility of praying so that they can identify politicians who have a loving heart just like that of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

He said in reference to the Catholic Saint who was born in Hungary on 7 July 1207 to the Hungarian King Andrew II and Gertrude of Merania, “Even though she was wealthy, she chose to serve the poor who are in most cases forgotten in the society.”

Bishop Obanyi cautioned Kenyans against a culture by a section of politicians of resurfacing after every five years and making promises that they never get to fulfil.

“Every five years, we leave our jobs and we start following them (politicians). We start listening to them; even when they lie to us, we don’t believe; everything they say becomes true; they promise us so much and we think they are truly for us,” he said at the event that involved opening of the administrative office and the blessing of new equipment for St. Elizabeth Mukumu Hospital.

He further urged Kenyans to focus on politicians who have leadership qualities and not to be swayed by money.

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“Is it possible that we are making devils out of our politicians?” Bishop Obanyi queried, and added, “We are requiring from them what does not help them to become better, that they have to look for ways of sustaining us because they have to get there.”

He further posed, “Is it possible that we have helped the culture of corruption even when we are blaming them?”

The Catholic Bishop further challenged the people of God in Kenya to emulate St. Elizabeth of Hungary noting that the poor are always there in the society and cannot be ignored.

“St Elizabeth (of Hungary), despite her affluence and fame, chose to serve the poor. Do we have the poor among us? We do. Do we have the sick among us? We do. How often do we serve them with love?” Bishop Obanyi queried. 

He said that the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary “can be an inspiration to our lives; her work and service can be an inspiration to the work and service we render in this community and elsewhere, so she becomes a shining example to each one of us.”


Addressing the leadership of St. Elizabeth Mukumu Mission hospital, the Local Ordinary of Kakamega Diocese who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese lauded the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega who serve at the hospital for walking in the footsteps of St Elizabeth of Hungary.

“The Sisters of Mary are serving with the spirit of St. Elizabeth (of Hungary): the spirit of love. They are not here to serve because they want money. They are here to serve because they are moved by the spirit of God and by the example of St Elizabeth (of Hungary),” Bishop Obanyi said November 17.

He went on to caution the leadership of the hospital against falling into the temptation of being consumed by desire for material wealth to the extent that profits are prioritized at the expense of the poor.

“Apparently some things have happened in the world and here in Kenya where an institution can easily lose its focus and its vision and begin to enter into the spirit of the world where profit becomes the main focus, where we forget to serve and also forget that the poor will always be among us,” Bishop Obanyi said.

He added, “I have always considered that if we have to look for God, the nearest you will find him will probably be in a hospital because the people in the hospital, apart from those who are serving, are all those who are sick, and a sick person is an expression of human weakness who depends on God’s strength.”

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The Kenyan Bishop further expressed regret that people in Kenya are still facing hunger after the country’s 58 years of independence.

“We are told that there is that small percentage of people in Kenya who are too rich and there is a great percentage of Kenyans that are very poor,” Bishop Obanyi observed, and posed, “What independence are we talking about? Are we talking about the independence of poverty or independence of self-sustenance?”