“I come to serve not to rule”: Newly Ordained Kenyan Catholic Bishop in Maiden Speech

Bishop George Muthaka, ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Garissa in Kenya on 7 May 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The newly ordained Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Garissa in Kenya has, in his maiden speech, said that his Episcopal Ministry will be characterized by service.

In his speech following his Consecration on Saturday, May 7, Bishop George Muthaka who is succeeding Bishop Joseph Alessandro as Local Ordinary of the Kenyan Diocese also called for collaboration among the people of God regardless of their religion.

“The people for whom His Holiness has appointed me to be their Bishop … I come to serve and not to rule,” Bishop Muthaka said during the May 7 event that took place at Our Lady of Consolation Cathedral of Garissa Diocese grounds.

The Kenyan-born member of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin (OFM Cap.) who had been serving as Vicar General of Garissa Diocese before his Episcopal appointment on February 17 added, “I come to you as a fellow Christian and as your Bishop. I hope you will find in me a father and a good shepherd.” 

“Dear Priests of the Diocese of Garissa, as a fellow Priest in the vineyard of the Lord I come also to you as your father, Bishop and friend,” he said.


Addressing himself to women and men Religious serving in the Kenyan Diocese that is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Mombasa, Bishop Muthaka said, “I come to you as your father to walk alongside you and to support you in your work in collaboration with our Priests and the people of God.”

“Be assured of my unwavering support in the good work you are doing in the Diocese,” he told members of the Clergy, women and men Religious in Garissa Diocese.

Expressing his awareness of the fact that Garissa Diocese is the largest Diocese in Kenya and that it has a high Muslim population, Bishop Muthaka called on the people of God in his Episcopal See to continue fostering peaceful coexistence. 

He said, “Our Diocese is unlike other Dioceses in many ways. Our Diocese is the largest geographically and yet we are the least in numbers. We live among a majority population of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Despite all these we belong to the universal church.” 

The Kenyan Catholic Bishop who, before he was appointed Bishop, was serving as Vicar General, Diocesan Financial Administrator, Director of Caritas, and President of the Diocesan Commission for the Protection of Minors in Garissa Diocese added, “We have learned to coexist with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Let us continue to coexist and to live peacefully with our brothers and sisters. Let us continue to witness Christ who has called us to live in this place.”

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Addressing himself to the Laity of Garissa Diocese, Bishop Muthaka said, “Let us continue to collaborate with our Priests, our Religious men and women for the sake of our spiritual growth, (and) the Diocese.” 

“Be assured of my unwavering support, my availability and accessibility in the spirit of synodality; let us walk together listening to one another and supporting each other from the youngest to the oldest,” the third Bishop of Garissa said, making reference to the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality

Speaking during the May 7 event, Bishop Alessandro promised to “encourage and support” his successor in his Episcopal Ministry in the Kenyan Diocese.

“We promise to sustain you, encourage and support you in your role as Bishop by the prayerful and practical support of all of us,” Bishop Alessandro told his 47-year-old confrere.  

The Maltese-born Bishop added, “Remember God has chosen you as a true witness of Christ the good shepherd; may he endow you with wisdom and even deepening holiness as you guide the flock entrusted to your loving care.”


“Congratulations as you begin your service to the holy people of god and the Catholic Diocese of Garissa,” the Bishop who first served as Coadjutor Bishop of Garissa Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination September 2012 and as Local Ordinary from December 2015 told his successor.

He asked Bishop Muthaka to look at his new office not only as an administrative position, but as a Priestly Ministry.

“The Bishop is not simply a manager or an administrator or a social commentator; he is also and above all a Priest who shares in the very fullness of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Alessandro said.

He added, “Your mission as a Bishop is to witness to others of what your own encounter with Christ means to you in your life and to share that experience with others especially in the lifelong process of a synodal church.”

The 77-year-old Bishop further said, “My dear brother Bishop George, my wish for you in the days and years to come is that you will discover ever more deeply the joy that comes from sharing with others your faith in Jesus Christ, what (it) means to you, and discover the joy that comes from being a member and the shepherd of the community of believers.”

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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.