Pope Francis Appoints Bishop for Kenya’s Maralal Diocese, Apostolic Nuncio to Sierra Leone

Mons. Hieronymus Joya (right), appointed Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Maralal in Kenya and Mons. Walter Erbì (left), appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Sierra Leone. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis has appointed Mons. Hieronymus Joya as Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Maralal in Kenya and Mons. Walter Erbì as Apostolic Nuncio to Sierra Leone. 

The appointment of the Kenyan-born member of the Institute of Consolata Missionaries (IMC) to shepherd the people of God in Maralal Diocese and that of Italian-born Clergy of Iglesias Diocese to represent him in Sierra Leone was published by the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday, July 20.

In the bulletin announcing the latest administrative changes, the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Virgilio Pante, , the 76-year-old member of IMC who has been at the helm of Maralal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in October 2001. 

Until his appointment, Mons. Joya has been serving as lecturer and formator at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy in Nairobi, Kenya.

The immediate former Regional Superior of IMC members in Kenya and Uganda was ordained a Priest in September 1998 after completing his Priestly studies at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy and Tangaza University College.


The 65-year-old Bishop-elect holds a licentiate in pastoral theology from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and has been pursuing a doctorate in pastoral theology at the Nairobi-based institution that is owned by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA). 

As a Priest, Mons. Joya has also served as Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator and Director of Blessed Joseph Allamano Pastoral Centre in the Diocese of Maralal, and Vice Superior of the Consolata Missionaries in the Kenya-Uganda Region.

Once installed, the native of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese is expected to serve as the second Local Ordinary of the 20,809 square kilometer Catholic Diocese with an estimated population of 83,760 Catholics, according to 2020 statistics.

Meanwhile, Mons. Erbì who, on July 16, was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Liberia, is to represent the Holy Father in Sierra Leone as well. 

Sierra Leone has been without an Apostolic Nuncio since May 2022 when the Holy Father transferred Archbishop Dagoberto Campos Salas to Panama.

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The Italian-born Mons. Erbì was ordained a Priest for Italy’s Iglesias Diocese on 10 May 1992.

The graduate in Canon Law who speaks Italian, French, Spanish, and English entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 April 2001.

Since then, Archbishop-elect Erbì has served in various Apostolic Nunciatures, including Greece, Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Australia, France, and Turkey.

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.