First Anniversary, Remembering Beloved Cardinal Otunga

First Anniversary, of Beloved Cardinal 

The first anniversary of the death of Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, the widely respected former Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, was marked on Monday, September 6, 2004, with Eucharistic celebration at the Holy Family Basilica in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, followed by prayers at the graveside where he was buried.

The 1:15 pm anniversary was presided over by the Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki of Nairobi, assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Mukobo Ireri and several priests of the archdiocese. Archbishop Ndingi described Cardinal Otunga as being a “simple and humble” priest who lived all his life for Jesus Christ.
“If we were allowed to proclaim somebody a saint by acclamation, we would have done that for Otunga,” Archbishop Ndingi said, adding that the formal process to proclaim the late Cardinal a saint could only be initiated by the Vatican.

“He was a wonderful example of what it means to be a good person and priest,” the Archbishop said. Word had already started to filter calling for the commencement of a process towards Cardinal Otunga’s beatification.

Family Satisfied with Otunga’s Re-burial

The immediate family of the late Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga was duly consulted about the exhumation and reburial of the remains of the former Archbishop of Nairobi. A nephew of the Cardinal’s, George Nabutola, said though moving the remains to another place contravened traditional Bukusu customs, however, the family accepted that the Church had valid reasons for doing so.

“The Church had its own reasons for moving the body to another place,” Nabutola told CISA in Nairobi on the Tuesday of September 6, 2005, during the second anniversary celebrations of the Cardinal’s death. In August 2005, the Archdiocese of Nairobi moved the Cardinal’s remains to a special chapel at Resurrection Garden, a quiet retreat centre in the city.The unannounced exhumation and reburial caught many Kenyans by surprise. But Nabutola said the exercise was not done “secretly” as the media had reported but “privately.”


“This is the second phase. There they go over the documentation again, seeing if the negative depositions have been properly resolved. Then they have to ascertain that a miracle has been experienced by somebody through the intercession of this person. After that, the person will be declared Blessed, and he or she can be venerated publicly in the church: the picture can be affixed on the wall, mass can be celebrated in his honour, etc.”