President Uhuru Kenyatta has joined other leaders and Kenyans in mourning Bishop Cornelius Korir of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret.
The President said he was deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Koriri, describing him as a great religious leader and an excellent peacemaker.
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“I join the Catholic Church in mourning a great religious leader whose exemplary service calls for emulation by others,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “In this hour of sorrow, and on behalf of the people and Government of Kenya, I convey my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Catholic church, and the family and friends of the late Bishop Korir.”
Bishop Cornelius Korir was born on 6 July 1950 in Segutiet, Bomet District.
His search for the word of God started long time when he could walk for 23KM to the nearest Catholic Church in Kaplong Mission.
“My family could not afford to go to church every week as it meant we would walk for 46KM to and from church. My late mother was a very staunch catholic and that is when I learnt what it meant to be a catholic,” said Korir during a past interview.
The man who served as a priest for 34.98 years said he wished to become a priest in his early school days.
“When I was a pupil at Chesoen and Segutiet primary schools between 1959 and 1970 I knew I felt that I wanted to be a priest. I schooled at the Mother of Apostles Minor Seminary in Eldoret before joining St Augustine Major Seminary in Bungoma in 1976. I became a catechist and went to the seminary,” said Bishop Korir in a past interview.
He has been serving as a peacekeeper among warring pastoralist communities in the North Rift.
Last year he mediated talks among the Turkana and Pokot over continued cattle rustling that has claimed many lives.
He brought together governors, members of parliament and senators from the counties and urged them to support the peace process along the border.
His efforts paid off as the two communities started living peacefully and few cases of cattle rustling have been reported since then.
Turkana Catholic Diocese Bishop Dominic Kimengich condoled the Bishop terming him as irreplaceable.
“It is a very sad moment for us and the country. He was a gifted peace ambassador who wished that the world would be peaceful. He spent his time talking to communities and their leaders to embrace peace. Despite the resistance he got sometimes from the communities that had were wounded from raids, he was calm and used dialogue and with the help of God he brought resolutions. We now have peace because of his efforts,” said Bishop Kimengich.
Bishop Korir had vowed to continue leading the peace process and help political leaders from the communities to end animosities.
He was also instrumental in distributing relief food to families affected during the 1991-92 clashes and the Marakwet-Pokot conflicts in 1996.
In 2006 he was awarded a Moran of the Burning Spear by President Mwai Kibaki for his peace efforts.
He also earned the Milele Lifetime Award in 2009 from the National Commission of Human Rights.