Our gracious Cardinal is now addressed as the “Servant of God” in the long process to sainthood. Having lived his Christian faith graciously, his priestly vocation faithfully and served his flock wisely as Bishop and Cardinal, he is now set to join the community of saints in heaven. During his life, he left a great spiritual impact on the people with whom he came in contact. As he becomes a blessed, his spiritual influence will be spread far and wide, unlimited to time and space. This much anticipated event is done in phases.
The first stage is the “Diocesan phase”. The ordinary of the diocese where the candidate died and buried takes the initiative and decision to start the process at least five years from the candidate’s death. He appoints the postulator responsible for collecting and collating the information by writing a libellus. The congregation for the causes of saints, on conviction by the given information gives Nihil Obstat to allow the process to proceed.
This stage has been accomplished; His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, the current archbishop of Nairobi archdiocese, named Fr. Anthony Bellagamba as the postulator of the beatification cause of the Servant of God Maurice M. Cardinal Otunga.
The archbishop of Nairobi has already been encouraged to proceed with the process for beatification based on the finding of commissions.
The second Phase in the beatification process is the “election”. The ordinary of the diocese elects/appoints 3 officials;
1) Episcopal delegate,
2) defensor iustitiae (Promoter of justice)
3) Public notary
Three commissions are also established: theological commission, historical commission, and medical commission with respectively three members each. While the last two comissions depend on the postulator for their research materials and sources, the theological commission works independently as individuals without any communications between them for authenticity sake. All the officials and members of the commissions are under oath of secrecy.
This has been done by the archbishop of Nairobi Catholic archdiocese. The work is in process and they are working hand in hand with the postulator.
The third phase is “research/collection” on the written documents. The postulator gathers the materials taken from the archives both written by and about the candidate. These he puts together in readiness of study by the experts.
This stage is naturally challenging because it depends very much on the availability of the candidate’s theological materials either written by him or about him. The postulator Fr. Antony and the commissions are very much involved in it.
The fourth phase is the study of the “written materials”. The members of the commissions carry out the study of written documents, either by or about the candidate. The members of this commissions, not only study the theology of the candidate, but also his holiness, heroicity in the practice of Christian virtues, and the power of intercession recognized by the Christian people.
The fifth phase is the study of “oral” witnesses. The people, who lived with Cardinal for the longest period of time from the dioceses where he was born, lived and worked, are engaged in interviews by three judges. The people who surrounded his life most of the time, e.g. cook/driver/gardener / secretaries are on focus at this level.
Finally, the collection of materials that serve as evidences pro the candidate’s canonization, are sent to Rome for further study and consideration. On the demonstration and satisfaction that the candidate led a life worth imitating, one is declared venerable. If there is an evidence of a miracle then he is declared blessed and on the evidence of another miracle one becomes Saint. This is the journey we are called to make tirelessly with our gracious cardinal.
Titles to sainthood in stages
1. Servant of God
The 6th September has been fixed as the day for the commemorating Servant of God M.M. Card. Otunga. There will be a celebration at the Minor Basilica with presentation on his life and Spirituality. This year there will be a talk on the Spirituality of Otunga delivered by Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria at the basilica. All dioceses are expected to participate in there own dioceses in marking this important occasion.
Fr. Charles Odira Kwanya
K.E.C. – CS National executive secretary
Pastoral & Lay Apostolate