February 2024
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History of the Catholic Church in Kenya

ope francis appoint- 
ed Althbishop Philip 
Arnold Subira Anyolo 
of Kisumu as the fifth 
metropolitan ofthe 
Archdiocese of Nai- 
mbi on October 28 .According to 
Canon Law.a metropolitan heads 
a m,exjor diocese and also presides 
over an ecclesiastical pmvince 
(Canon 435).This means that as 
the Naimbi Metropolitan,A1th- 
bishop Anyolo will (wersee the di- 
oceses ofKericho. Kitui.Machakos 
Nakuru and Ngong which have 
their (Avn bishops as the prop- 
er heads. 
Every Church jurisdiction is im- 
portant in its own right-The Arch 
diocese ofN airobi enjoys signifi- 
cance as an ecclesialjurisdiction 
för several reasons, Historically, it 
was the first Church division in 
Kenya to gain metmpolitan status 
in 1953.Additionally, its territory 
encompasses the capital city and 
includes Kiambu County. Recent 
statistics show that it is the spir- 
itual home of3.8 million Cath- 
ohcs, representing a sizable pro- 
portion of the total population of
both counties. 
Since its elevation to metmpol- 
itan status. the archdiocese has 
been headed by four archbishops. 
Its first prelate of this rank was 
Althbishop J J McCarthy CSSp 
who in that role from 1953 
to 1971 ,Before promotion to the 
rank of archbishop, he had served 
as Bishop of the Vicariate of Zan- 
zibar. the ancient Churh territo- 
ry and name that morphed into 
the Archdiocese of Naimbi. 
Archbishop McCarthy, a dynam- 
ic prelate, will be ever lernern- 
bered for completing the con- 
struction ofthe iconic Holy I.kun- 
ily Cathedral in a recolXl three 
Aiears. He was succeeded by the 
Servant ofGod Maurice Cardinal 
Otunga.loved and revered by ma- 
ny for his humility and saintly life. 
The third metropolitan was 
Althbishop R.S. Ndingi Mwa.na 'a 
Nzeki,passionate for socialjustice 
and good governance. Some de- 
scribed him as one bitten by the 
political bug.f-hs successor. John 
Cardinal Njue. will be remem- 
bered for infrastructure develop- 
ment and administrative stleam- 
lining. His achievements include
the construction ofthe Cardinal 
Otunga Plaza. next to the Basilica. 
Archbishop Anyolo has a full 
plate and there are great expec- 
tations.AII his predecessors were 
prelates of solid achievements. 
Currently. the Archdiocese of 
Naimbi has 114 parishes of which 
70 are served by local diocesan 
priests and the rest by missionar- 
ies.'lhevrisdiction falls into 14 
deaneries or groups of neigh bour- 
ing parishes. 
There are 109 religious wom- 
en congregations and 71 religious 
men organizations. Besides pro-
viding direct spiritual nourish- 
ment, agen ts ofevangelization 
run education institutions-of- 
fer health services and perform 
works of mercy in thejurisdiction. 
Inspired by a papal letter of 
Pope John XXIII, the Catholic 
Church understands its mission 
to be that of mother and teach- 
er. Education. including techni- 
cal,civil.civic and religious vari- 
eties.is part and parcel of evan- 
gelization, In a word, the Catholic 
Church is a teaching Church. 
Althdiocese of Naimbi runs 
145 private schools. 26 at sec- 
ondary' and 119 at primary lev- 
els While about half ofthese are 
owned andmanaged by the arrh- 
diocese, the others belong to mis- 
sionary congregations. 'Ihe said 
jurisdiction sponsors 102 
secondary schools and 200 pri- 
mary learning institutions. M a- 
ny parishes and religious congre- 
gations run pre-primary learn ing 
centres,technical training and 
trade institutions.
'Ille Code ofCanon Law de- 
scribes the bishop ofa diocese as 
"a teacher ofdoctrine. priest of sa- 
cred worship and minister of gov- 
ernance" (Canon 375). Althbish- 
opAnyolo will be notjust famil- 
iar with the operations ofthese 
institutions, but his role is to pro- 
vide leadership, inspiration and 
guidance as a spiritual father. 
His training and experience will 
stand him in good stead to lead 
and serve in this challenging ap- 
pointment. 
Philip Subira was born in Ton- 
garen location. Bungoma County, 
to the late Mzee Paul Anyolo Shi- 
litsa and Mama Dinna Nechesa as 
the second of I o siblings,five girls 
and an equal number of boys. 
He attended Kakamwe Primary 
School where he successfülly sat 
the Certificate of Prilnary Educa- 
tion in 1971. 
Ms EVeHyn Mbayah Shinali. his 
niece and Principal ofSt.Anne's 
Musoli Girls High School, Ka- 
kamega County, 
ly:"The Archbishop was always 
humble since his youth and close
to all family members. He loved 
playing football as amidfielder". 
Feeling called to the priesthood, 
he was admitted at the Mother of' 
Apostles Seminary Eld01Vt and 
studied there for four years.Af- 
ter two years oftraining at St.Au- 
gu Stine Seminary Mab angzt Bun- 
goma,he studied at St. 'Ihomas 
Aquinas Seminary Nairobi earn- 
ing a Diploma in Philosophy and 
a BA degree in Theology 
Ordained priest in 1983 by Bish- 
op John Njenga, Fr Anyolo served 
the Diocese of Eldoret in various 
capacities. He did pastoral work at 
Burnt I.Orest and Loreto Mat-un- 
da parishes. 
He was appointed secretary 
first to Bishop Nienga and later to 
Bishop Cornelius Korir.Sr Caitri- 
onaKeIIy of the Loreto Sisters has 
known Archbishop Anyolo since 
his youth and recalls: "He's a lov- 
erofthe pastoral ministry and ac- 
ademically gifted". 'Ihe cleric en- 
rolled at the University of Inns- 
bruck, Austria, where he received 
his PhD in Theology in 1993. His 
thesLs was titled Concept of 
God in Paul: A new Perspective of 
Relatiomship with GocE
Upon returning home. he was 
appointed Catholic Chaplain and 
lectumer at Moi Universityan as- 
signment that proved short-lived. 
Pope John Paul Il soon named 
him the founding bishop of the 
Diocese of Kerichq which he 
headed for seven years. The prel- 
ate was transferred to the Diocese 
of HomaBay where he served till 
his elevation as Arch bishop of 
Kisumuin 2019. This has turned 
out to be another stint as he was 
recently appointed the A-chbish- 
op of Naimbi. 
Arch bLshop Anyolo is a spiritu- 
al leader and gifted administra- 
tor.A multitasker.he has served 
as Chairman of the Kenya Confer- 
ence ofCathoIic Bishops. Those 
who know him since his semi- 
nary trarning attest to his strong 
%ork ethic and calm demeanor 
in the face ofcrises."He reminds 
one of the Servant of God Mau- 
rice Cardinal Otungzv he.s always 
cool". remarks Patrick Kanja 
who was contemporaneous with 
Althbishop Anyolo at the Eldoret
As he takes the reins of the Arch- 
diocese ofNairobi from Bishop 
David Kamau Ng .ang'avApostolic 
Administrator, bishop Philip 
Arnold Subin Anyolo is undaunt- 
ed by the Herculean task ahead 
of him. "lhe new motto on his lo- 
go states:'Manate in me, et ego in 
vobis"which is Latin for "Abide in 
me and Iin you". (John 15:4). 


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