The Archbishop of Kenya’s Nairobi Archdiocese has urged the people of God to initiate “popular devotion” to boost the cause for the canonization of the country’s first Cardinal, the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga.
“We want to ask you, my dear people of God, to plan so that even here in your own Parish you have a popular devotion to pray and ask for the intercession of the Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga,” Archbishop Philip Anyolo said November 20 during the Silver Jubilee and Family Day celebrations of Christ the King Embakasi Parish of Nairobi Archdiocese.
Archbishop Anyolo said it was important that the initiative for devotion begins in Nairobi Archdiocese hinting to the recognition of the Kenyan Servant of God who shepherded the people of God in the Archdiocese from October 1971 to August 1997 when he retired aged 74.
“Let’s not be afraid to have devotions organized by Priests and well recognized by the Diocese; we need to start this first here in the Archdiocese of Nairobi then it will spread elsewhere," the Kenyan Archbishop said.
He added, “It is us who are living that will see that the venerable and blessed stages are accomplished.”
“It is us who will promote his journey to sainthood in our way of life and we will see miracles happening in our lives if we trust in the process,” the 66-year-old Local Ordinary of Nairobi Archdiocese further said about the Kenyan-born Cardinal who died after suffering a cardiac arrest on 6 September 2003 at the age of 80.
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”.
In his November 20 message, Archbishop Anyolo who has been at the helm of Nairobi Archdiocese since November 2021 said, “There are a lot of good stories going around about cardinal Otunga, stories with heroic virtues.”
In his message during Holy Mass to mark 18 years since the Kenyan Servant of God died, the Vice Postulator for the course of the Cardinal’s beatification hailed him as “a great gift to the Church” in Kenya and the world.
“We are here to give thanks because of the gift of the servant of God,” Fr. Lawrence Njoroge said during the September 6 Eucharistic celebration that was held at the Resurrection Garden in Karen, Nairobi.
Fr. Njoroge who was appointed Vice Postulator of the cause in December 2019 added, “Without a doubt, he was a great gift to the world; he was a great gift to the Church; he was a great gift to the Archdiocese of Nairobi and therefore we wanted to remember him.”
The Catholic Priest exuded confidence that the Cardinal’s journey to Sainthood was on the right course, and called for prayers for the process toward the stage of Venerable.
The Sainthood cause of the Servant of God 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”.
During the 2021 Memorial Mass of the Kenyan Servant of God, he was remembered for his service to the people of God whom he loved “very very dearly.”
“If there was a person who loved the Church and loved it very very dearly, it was the Servant of God, Maurice Cardinal Otunga,” Fr. Njoroge said during the 6 September 2021 event that was held at Holy Family Minor Basilica of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
In 2019, various faithful who participated in the late Cardinal’s memorial Mass expressed optimism in the process of his sainthood, regarding him as probably the first Kenyan-born saint in the making.