Pope Francis Lauds Kenyan Bishop Marking Episcopal Golden Jubilee as Diligent Servant

Bishop Emeritus Philip Sulumeti of Kenya's Kakamega Diocese. Credit: ACI Africa

Pope Francis has acknowledged with appreciation the five-decade Episcopal Ministry of a Kenyan Catholic Bishop, lauding him as a diligent and zealous servant who preached “the gospel truth to the people.”

In a message, which the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, read out during the Episcopal Golden Jubilee celebration of Bishop Philip Sulumeti on Saturday, October 29, the Holy Father says the Bishop’s “untiring and wise” ministry has merited Papal “fraternal love and gratitude”.

“On the occasion of the golden jubilee of your episcopal ordination, we congratulate you for a long-lasting service which you diligently carried out, meriting our fraternal love and gratitude,” Pope Francis says in his message addressed to Bishop Sulumeti.

In his message, the Holy Father acknowledges the efforts the 85-year-old Kenyan Bishop who retired in December 2014 made in his evangelization ministry, described as the Catholic Bishop’s “zealous effort to study and preach the gospel truth to the people.”

“Equally, we congratulate you for being untiring and wise in the ministry for the good of Christ and of the Church,” the Pope says in his message that his representative in Kenya read out during the celebration held at Bukhungu Stadium of Kenya’s Kakamega County.


Pope Francis thanks the Kenyan Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in August 1972 as the Auxiliary Bishop of then Kisumu Diocese in Western Kenya for “having journeyed with the people of God in Word and example, deepening the mystery of redemption as a faithful announcer of the Gospel.”

“While we wish you every blessing, we bless you and your loved ones, and request that you pray for our Papal ministry,” Pope Francis says in his message dated August 2, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Bishop Sulumeti’s Episcopal Consecration.

Born on 15 August 1937, Bishop Sulumeti was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Kisumu on 6 January 1966.

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Kisumu and assigned the Titular See of Urci in May 1972. He was ordained Bishop of Kisumu in August of the same year.

In December 1976, Bishop Sulumeti was appointed the first Local Ordinary of Kakamega Diocese where he served till Pope Francis accepted his retirement in December 2014, and appointed Bishop Joseph Obanyi Sagwe as his successor. 

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In a separate message on the occasion of Bishop Sulumeti’s Episcopal Golden Jubilee, a Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization acknowledges the generosity of the Kenyan Bishop in the evangelization ministry.

In his message, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says Bishop Sulumeti served the Church “generously as Bishop, using all your God given talents to carry out the work of evangelization and pastoral care in the Diocese entrusted to you.”

Bishop Sulumeti’s contribution to the growth of the local Church has been “immense and your presence and prayers undoubtedly continue to be a source of many blessings for the Church and its mission,” Cardinal Tagle says in his message dated August 8.

The Filipino-born Cardinal expresses his gratitude to the retired Kenyan Bishop, saying, “We thank you very sincerely and pay you a well-deserved homage for your apostolic zeal and your total dedication to the cause of evangelization.”

“In sending these greetings, we accompany them with our prayerful wishes for you on this day,” the Vatican-based Cardinal says in his message on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Bishop Sulumeti’s Episcopal Consecration.


Cardinal Tagle implores, “May the Lord and our Blessed Mother, Queen of Evangelization, continue to protect you in the years that lie ahead.”

The pioneer Bishop of Kakamega Diocese has been lauded as a successful shepherd who laid the foundation of faith in Western Kenya.

“Bishop Sulumeti has played a tremendous role in the pastoral life of the Church. When you look at Kakamega and the Metropolitan of Kisumu at large, you see the vibrance of faith,” Bishop Obanyi who succeeded the Bishop in March 2015 said in a Video recording published and circulated on October 24 by Capuchin TV in Kenya.

The native of Kenya’s Kisii Diocese added in reference to Western Kenya, “The grounding, that foundation of faith that was laid there has been strong, thanks to zealous shepherds and pastors like Bishop Sulumeti.”

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.