, 07 December, 2019 / 12:17 AM
As the Catholic Church in Kenya prays for the beatification and subsequent canonization of the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga who could eventually become first native saint of the East African country, the newly appointed Vice Postulator, Fr. Lawrence Njoroge has, in an interview with ACI Africa Thursday, December 5, shared about his new responsibility, which was announced November 19 through a circular signed by Nairobi’s Archbishop John Cardinal Njue.
“I am very delighted and humbled to be associated in any way with the cause for beatification and canonization of Cardinal Otunga; it is a great honor,” Fr. Njoroge said.
He added, “I am very excited and I am eager to do what needs to be done.”
“As the Vice Postulator, I will be working with other people, as I provide leadership to move vigorously towards a certain direction, which is the declaration (of the Servant of God Otunga) as Venerable,” the Professor of Ethics and Development at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he doubles as the Chaplain said during the Thursday interview.
Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Nairobi in 1981 by the Servant of God Otunga, Fr. Njoroge recalled the Cardinal’s impact in his education and career.
“He sent me for higher studies; he contacted the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA in order for me to do both theology and education. When I completed my PhD, it was him that asked the University to employ me for some time in order to improve my CV,” the Kenyan cleric said.
“To meet Cardinal Otunga and to work with him and be associated with him was to be associated with a very real human being,” Fr. Njoroge said of the Kenyan Servant of God and added, “Cardinal Otunga was what God would like us to be like; a very humble, very prayerful and original man; in that sense, he was himself - no pretense.”
To him, Cardinal Otunga was a “living saint, born and gifted to us.”
“If I have met a person who truly believed in God’s goodness, it is Cardinal Otunga. One of his favorite words was ‘providence’. He truly believed in God and he loved the Catholic Church and the people of God,” Fr. Njoroge who preached at the Cardinal’s funeral Mass recalled.
Aware that it will be no easy feat to combine his role as a university don with the new Archdiocesan responsibilities, the holder of a double doctorate in Theology and in Education and Ethics was optimistic in his response.
“The workload in JKUAT will be dovetailed in such a way that it does not impede the role of the Vice Postulator; it's the kind of a job that can be done even as I am the Chaplain of JKUAT,” he said.
He added in reference to his multiple responsibilities, “It is a symbiotic situation, one of the jobs for Vice Postulator is to write the official biography (of the candidate); I am a writer and being in an academic setting as a professor teaching ethics and in a situation of research, instead of my job at JKUAT hindering what I am doing, it should be supportive.”
Referencing the support of the university in his new assignment, Fr. Njoroge stated, “They are very excited about it. My superiors at JKUAT are always supportive of my work and very supportive of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.”
As Vice Postulator, Fr. Njoroge will represent the Local Ordinary in the process and will work closely with Rome-based Postulator of the cause, Dr. Waldery Hilgeman.
In the course of his duties, Fr. Njoroge will also collaborate with the Secretary and Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocesan office of the Causes of Saints, Sr. Esther W. Ichugu, a member of the Dimesse Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (FMI).
In an interview with ACI Africa Friday, December 6, Sr. Ichugu who has been serving in the same capacity welcomed Fr. Njoroge saying, “We are forging ahead with the process and it is our hope that with the new appointment, the process will reach its expected end.”
Sr. Ichugu also revealed that the cause Postulator was in Kenya in November for a week-long meeting in which members “reviewed where we are and designed strategies for the way forward.”
With regard to the complex process of canonization, the sainthood cause of the Servant of God Cardinal Otunga who died in 2003 at the age of 80 is in the Roman Phase, which involves the examination and verification of documents (evidence) submitted by the petitioner. These documents are examined by a group of theologians and reviewed by another group of experts. If the review is favorable, the documents are submitted to the Holy Father for approval and subsequent issuance of a Papal decree confirming the virtuous life of the candidate to whom he confers the title "Venerable."
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