“Grace saw me through”, First Blind Catholic Priest in Kenya on Adjusting to Sight Loss

Fr. Michael Mithamo King’ori during the January 14 Ordination Mass. Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)

Fr. Michael Mithamo King’ori has already celebrated six Masses in the Archdiocese of Nyeri in Kenya where he was ordained a Catholic Priest on January 14. 

When he spoke to ACI Africa on the evening of Saturday, January 21, Fr. Mithamo had just celebrated his third Mass with the Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Nyeri and was preparing for three Sunday Masses.

As a blind Priest, Fr. Mithamo admitted that it had taken him three different occasions to build up his confidence in presiding over Holy Mass.

“I was very anxious at first,” Fr. Mithamo told ACI Africa, sharing his experience at Mary Mother of God Catholic Parish of the Archdiocese of Nyeri where he celebrated his first Mass on January 15, the day after Archbishop Anthony Muheria had ordained him a Priest. 

Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)


“Sometimes, I felt like I wasn’t prepared enough. I felt like I wasn’t connecting with the Faithful well enough because I could not see them. But I was very excited to finally celebrate Mass, and I believe God’s grace saw me through the first Mass, and the next, and the next,” he said, adding that he had gradually built his confidence during the second Mass he presided over at his home, and finally, the third at the community of the Religious Sisters.

Part of his preparation for Holy Mass includes memorizing prayers, he said, and explained, “The only difference between me and Priests who can see is the modality I use. While they use eyes to read during Liturgy, I use braille and memory. Fortunately, in our Liturgy, some texts do not change, and memorizing them is very easy. I am therefore left with just a few prayers to memorize as I prepare for Mass.”

Adjusting to Religious life as a blind person was, however not easy for the Kenyan Catholic Priest who lost his sight shortly after he was ordained deacon in 2019.

Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)

“I fell sick and while in hospital, I lost my sight. It was only three months after I was ordained a Deacon and I was so excited to edge so close to Priesthood. Then the doctor made the announcement that changed my life,” Fr. Mithamo told ACI Africa during the January 21 interview.

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“I found it hard to believe it when doctors said I had lost my sight. I felt that the doctors had failed me. But they brought in someone who counseled me and told me that all was not lost for me. I also fell deep into meditation and I found the strength to accept my situation,” he said. 

Away from the hospital, Fr. Mithamo recounts facing rejection, and some of his friends abandoning him.

“I can say that I have had very few genuine friends who saw me through my difficult journey of adjusting to blindness. But many friends left me; they abandoned me and some of them are just starting to come back after the ordination,” he says, adding that top on his list of those who stood by him was the Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese, Archbishop Muheria.

Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)

“My Bishop was there with me fully, always encouraging me to look at the positive side of life. I know him to be a very busy man. But he saw me almost every day. He started coaching me in my priestly duties even before I was ordained and helped to strengthen my confidence,” he says.


Apart from dealing with the rejection from some of the friends he trusted, Fr. Mithamo recalls dropping most things he enjoyed doing as a Deacon, including swimming and going to the gym.

Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)

“I had to completely change my interests. I used to be very good at the gym and also a very good swimmer. I had to stop all these things. I had to limit my movement and accept that I could no longer drive as I used to,” he says.

“Never once did the thought of quitting my journey to Priesthood cross my mind,” he says, when asked whether he contemplated exiting Religious Life and focusing on something else. 

“The only thing I did was pray more,” he says, and continues, “I would have moments of deep meditation during which I received comforting answers from God. I thought about the difference between what I had lost and what I had and I decided that I had everything I needed to still be a Priest.”

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Fr. Mithamo immediately joined Kenya Institute for the Blind where he spent nine months learning braille. He also took lessons in orientation and mobility, activities of daily living, adjusting to the environment, and ICT.

He says that the courses, as well as the hands-on coaching by Archbishop Muheria, have enabled him to live his Priesthood just like any other priest. 

“I plan to do everything that is required of me as a Priest. This includes praying, celebrating Mass, and tending to the people of God in various pastoral activities. I can do all these things because my Bishop has given me all the gadgets I need to serve the people in the Archdiocese. I can say Mass even when I am alone,” the member of the Clergy of Nyeri Archdiocese says.

Credit: The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)

In his encouragement to people living with disabilities, the Catholic Priest says, “Never give up. All is not lost.”

“Don’t focus on what you don't have but know that all you have is all you need to do whatever you want. If you don't have a leg and have a hand, use the hand to go wherever you would like to go,” Fr. Mithamo says.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.