Cardinal Otunga’s Sainthood Journey a Call to Holiness: Kenyan Archbishop

Archbishop Philip Subira Anyolo during Holy Mass commemorating the 20th anniversary of Servant of God Michael Maurice Cardinal Otunga at Queen of the Apostles Parish of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, Kenya Credit: Daughters of St. Paul

The sainthood course of the Servant of God Michael Maurice Cardinal Otunga was started by the Cardinal himself, and is now an invitation for the people of God to live a holy life, the Local Ordinary of Kenya's Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi has said.

Speaking at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Cardinal Otunga, Archbishop Philip Subira Anyolo noted that the goal for the Cardinal’s canonization process is for all those praying for him to be saints as well.

“This process began with the Cardinal himself. He showed us the way to help him and to journey together, that all of us may become saints. What he began many years ago may not be accomplished in our lifetime. It is something that is ongoing. The goal is for all of us to be saints,” Archbishop Anyolo said during the event that was held at Queen of Apostles Ruaraka Parish of Nairobi Archdiocese.

The Archbishop of Nairobi who serves as the petitioner for the course of Cardinal Otunga’s canonization urged the people of God in Kenya to embrace the sainthood process of Kenya’s first native Catholic Bishop and Cardinal as “a project” and “a process that continues”, adding, “It calls for us to continue praying because he continues to pray for us so that we all follow the same course he is on.”

Archbishop Anyolo invited the people of God to imitate Cardinal Otunga who has been described as “a great gift to the Church” even as they pray for his canonization. 


“Let us imitate his ideals,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said, and added, “I insist that this process is an invitation to all of us, as per his work, to also strive towards sainthood.”

The Sainthood cause of Cardinal Otunga is in the Roman Phase, which involves the examination and verification of documents (evidence) submitted by the petitioner. 

These documents are examined by a group of theologians and reviewed by another group of experts. If the review is favorable, the documents are submitted to the Holy Father for approval and subsequent issuance of a Papal decree confirming the virtuous life of the candidate to whom he confers the title, “Venerable”.

Speaking at the September 6 commemoration of Cardinal Otunga’s 20th death anniversary, Fr. Laurence Njoroge, the vice Postulator for the course of the Cardinal’s beatification confirmed that the canonization process of the Servant of God was on course.

He said that for the Cardinal’s exemplary deeds, “there were people who wanted him to be pronounced a saint immediately after he died.”

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“But the Catholic Church has its processes,” Fr. Njoroge said, and added, in an update on the process of Cardinal Otunga’s sainthood, “Recently, we received communication from the Postulator in Rome announcing that the positio is ready and it will be presented to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome for discernment and voting on the promotion of the Servant of God Michaele Maurice Cardinal Otunga to the next level.”

Cardinal Otunga’s cause for canonization started in 2009 when the then Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue, petitioned the Vatican-based Congregation for the Causes of Saints to approve the process.

The request was granted, allowing Cardinal Otunga to be referred to as “Servant of God”.

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.