Biography of ADN
Brief history of the Archdiocese of Nyeri
The seed of faith was planted by 4 Consolata Missionaries from Italy namely; Frs. Thomas Gay, Philip Perlo and Brothers Caleste Husso and Luigi Perlo. This seed grew from a small station at Tuthu to vast evangelized area that included stations at Limuru 1902, Murang’a 1902, Tetu and Gikondi 1903, Mathari, Karima and Mugoiri 1904, Gaturi1907, Ichagaki 1908, Gatanga and Ruchu 1910.
They founded a community enriched with natural gifts suitable to the spread of the Gospel. Led by Fr. Philip Perlo who was later to become the Vicar Apostolic the Bishop of Nyeri in 1902, the Missionaries who later numbered 78 versed Kikuyu-Land preaching the Gospel.
Bishop Perlo later went back to Italy after the death of their Founder Fr. Joseph Allamano to be their Superior General. Bishop Joseph Parachon who was the Rector of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary replaced him.
Their missionary work started to bear fruits with the Ordination of the first two African Priests at Mathari in 1927. They were Fr. James Camissasa and Fr. Thomas Kimangu.
Archbishop Arturo Hinsley, Apostolic Delegate to Kenya blessed Tetu Mission and expressed the need to have locals given education, which saw the opening of many schools.
The tree of faith continued to grow even higher. In 1932, Fr. Carlo Re became the Bishop and was consecrated at Tetu. He opened St. Paul’s Seminary in 1937 and started Kamwenja Teachers College. Later; in 1936 and 1938 he ordained Fr. Faustino Karanja and Fr. Martin Wachira.
The Catholic Missionaries encountered a lot of problems as their Country Italy was at war with Britain. That was between 1939 – 1943 when nearly all of them were taken as prisoners of war and exiled to South Africa. The Vicariate of Nyeri was left under the Holy Ghost Fathers and the only few African Priests then. Deacon Angelo Mugi who was ordained in 1943 took care of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary.
The Missionaries returned, but were to work under new conditions from the British who forced them to work in Meru and those in Meru to work in Nyeri. The Bishop did not return. Fr. Witte remained in-charge of the Nyeri Vicariate until 1946. Bishop Charles Cavallera was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Nyeri and pro-prefect of Meru in 1947. His arrival was to be the beginning of a flowering spring of wonderful expansion of the Catholic Church.
More local priests were ordained as the Church grew. Frs. Joseph Gichuki, Ceasar Maria Gatimu were ordained in Rome by the Holy Father in 1948. In the same year Bishop Cavallera ordained to priesthood Fr. Benedict Thuo in Tuthu and Fr. James Wanjohi in Kaheti. Fr. Martin Muraya and Fr. Anthony Mathenge were ordained in 1952 together with Genario Gichuhi and Salesio Kirantia who was the first Meru Priest. A Catechist Training School was opened to serve the needs of the growing church.
Nyeri became a Diocese in 1953. In 1961 Fr. Gatimu was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Nyeri to assist Rt. Rev. Cavallera. He was consecrated 0n 21st May, 1961 in Rome. Bishop Gatimu a profound preacher became the ordinary of Nyeri on 28th February, 1965 and his zeal saw the growth of the church in Nyeri and beyond. His appointment was in implementation of the plan of the Holy See to have local Africans rising to the Episcopate in Kenya. Before his death in 1987, Bishop Gatimu had championed a Liturgical indigenization program in the Diocese.
Bishop Nicodemus Kirima took over the work of evangelization upon the death of Bishop Gatimu. He was transferred from Mombasa where he served since 1978. One of his major tasks was the setting up of the Christ the King Major Seminary for training priests for Nyeri and other Dioceses. During the centenary celebration of the Catholic Faith in Kenya in 1989, Nyeri became an Archdiocese with Bishop Kirima becoming the Archbishop.
The Church in Central Kenya grew and this facilitated the creation of Meru 1926, Marsabit 1964, Murang’a 1983, Embu 1986, Isiolo 1995, Maralal 2001 and Nyahururu 2002.
The number of Local Priests rose from 22 in 1986 to 99 in 2002. After the creation of Nyahururu Diocese, Nyeri Archdiocese had 143 priests and 3 Deacons who together with missionaries from other countries are serving the vast Archdiocese. There are quite a number of religious Sisters and Brothers, Catechists, Associations and Movements offering the most suitable link for spreading the Gospel in the entire Archdiocese.
There is no doubt the Church in Nyeri has grown to a big tree and happily the sower of the seed- Jesus Christ through his servants who continue to guide the faithful in every corner. The pastoral needs of the Archdiocese of Nyeri necessitated the appointment of the Co-adjutor Archbishop John Njue on 9th March, 2002 formerly Bishop of Embu. He is now the Archbishop of Nairobi and the Cardinal. After the death of Archbishop Kirima on 27th November, 2007, John Cardinal Njue was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Nyeri.
On April 19th 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rt. Rev. Peter Kairo as the Archbishop of Nyeri. He served as the Archbishop of Nyeri. Archbishop Kairo was installed in 1983 and posted to Murang’a where he served before moving to Nakuru Diocese and then the Archdiocese of Nyeri.
Pope Francis appointed the Rt Rev Anthony Muheria, as Archbishop of Nyeri following the retirement of Archbishop Peter Kairo. Before coming to Nyeri, His Grace was in charge of both Kitui and Machakos dioceses; and he is a strong voice in the church where he chairs the finance commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.