At Death Anniversary, Catholic Missionary Priest Remembered for Justice Advocacy in Kenya

Credit: Courtesy Photo

On the 22nd anniversary of the murder of Fr. John Anthony Kaiser, Catholic Bishops in Kenya have remembered the American-born member of the Mill Hill Missionary (MHM) for advocating for justice in the East African nation. 

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say the death anniversary of the Priest whose body was found lying on the roadside near his place of mission over two decades ago serves as a reminder of the injustices in the society today.

In their Wednesday, August 24 anniversary message published in a Kenyan Daily, KCCB members say that 22 years after his death, Fr. Kaiser is remembered and celebrated by the Church, MHM members, his family and all people of goodwill “for the tireless efforts in advocating for justice for the poor, oppressed and vulnerable, preaching peaceful coexistence.”

Fr. Kaiser was known for working with the vulnerable and the oppressed in Kenya. He was vocal and bold against the forced evictions of Kenyans from their ancestral land. 

He was a critic of President Daniel Moi administration, and once testified before a commission, accusing the government of fueling the 1991-1993 ethnic violence in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province. 


Fr. Kaiser’s body was found lying next to a shotgun with a wound on his head on the morning of 24 August 2000 along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway. 

The native of Minnesota State in the U.S. who was 72 at the time died five months after having received the Law Society of Kenya annual Human Rights Award for being “a study in courage, determination and sacrifice on behalf of the weak, oppressed and downtrodden.”

At the request of KCCB members following his demise, the Kenyan government opened an inquest into his death, which ended on 12 June 2007 after hearing from 111 witnesses.  

On 1 August 2007 the presiding Magistrate ruled that Fr. Kaiser was killed, and that the “suicide theory” that had been floated by the Kenyan government and FBI was based on pre-conceived notion. 

The Magistrate further said that she could not point out with certainty who killed Fr. Kaiser on the basis of evidence tabled before her in the inquest.

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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.