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It’s song and dance as Bishop Anyolo makes grand entry into city

By Saturday Standard Team | November 20th 2021

Archbishop Philip Anyolo acknowledges greetings from faithfulls at Ngarariga. [George Njunge, Standard]

Carefully pitched white tents, gospel music and well-choreographed dances by colourfully dressed choir members set the scene for a grand reception of Archbishop-elect Reverend Philip Anyolo, yesterday.

Bishop Anyolo’s first stop at Soko Mjinga, the border market between Kiambu and Nyandarua counties, was significant as the market marks the start of Nairobi Archdiocese that will be his new home.

This follows his appointment by Pope Francis as the new Archbishop of the Nairobi Archdiocese.

Symbolically, the Kisumu Archdiocese, which has been Anyolo’s home for many years, escorted and handed over the bishop to his hosts at the venue where hundreds of Catholic faithful turned out to receive him.

At the venue, the faithful and clergy­ – mainly priests and nuns from Nairobi – received the new Archbishop-elect.

He will become the fourth African Archbishop presiding over the Nairobi Archdiocese after John Cardinal Njue, Ndingi Mwana a’ Nzeki and Maurice Cardinal Otunga.

He takes over from Njue who retired in January after attaining the age of 75.

Spread across the white tents, Kireita Parish choir and pontifical mission children belted out praise songs and dances as members of the Catholic men and women association waved white handkerchiefs.

As Anyolo arrived in a long convoy, the market went into a frenzy as women ululated and the choir sung their voices hoarse, backed by vigorous dances from pontifical mission children.

At Soko Mjinga, Anyolo was welcomed by Bishop David Kamau who is the auxiliary Bishop of Nairobi. During the brief ceremony, Bishop Kamau took to the microphone and welcomed Bishop Anyolo to the crowd.

And when he rose to spoke, Anyolo preached love and asked Kenyans to live in harmony.

Archbishop Philip Anyolo in a road procession with Catholic Faithfuls. [George Njunge, Standard]

“Kenya is a God-fearing nation. We need to serve each other like brothers and sisters and we are here to make God’s kingdom grow ten-fold,” Anyolo said.

Some Catholic nuns who had accompanied Anyolo could not hold back tears as he took to the podium to address the congregants.

Father Martin Kimama, who is the chairperson of the Archdiocese of Nairobi clergy, explained that Cardinal Njue had now retired and noted that the Pope had nominated Anyolo to lead the vast Nairobi Archdiocese.

He said as of now, Njue remains the Cardinal as he has not attained the 80 years when some of his duties are relieved and his title changes to emeritus.

The clergy chair further said the Kisumu Diocese, where Archbishop Anyolo was serving, has no Bishop and the pope will nominate a new one for the diocese.

As Anyolo left Soko Mjinga for his next stop at Ngarariga in Limuru, approximately 10 kilometres away, the Nakuru-Nairobi highway experienced a massive gridlock.

The bishop’s entourage resembled presidential escort, with police outriders and chase cars blaring their sirens.

At St Carmel Ngarariga parish, Anyolo was received by another congregation of parish faithful who sang and danced to receive him.

Anyolo then left Ngarariga for St Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kiambu.

In Kiambu, he was received outside Kiambu Police Station and later walked the one-kilometre distance into St Peter and Paul church in Kirigiti.

A red carpet was rolled out inside and outside the biggest church in Kiambu, which drew Catholic followers from the entire Kiambu Parish.

Archbishop Philip Anyolo blesses a pontifical mission child at Soko mjinga in Kiambu county. [George Njunge, Standard]

Reverend Anyolo was welcomed with song and dance by the excited faithful who lined up along the busy streets of Kiambu Town. Kiambu Governor James Nyoro was among guests who welcomed Anyolo to Kiambu.

Nyoro said his government would work closely with the new Archbishop and thanked the church for it’s continued support to development projects.

“We are excited to welcome our new Archbishop and pray that he settles into office as quickly as possible. His coming is timely when we require spiritual nourishment ahead of the General Election,” Nyoro said.

Anyolo thanked Kiambu residents for their warm welcome and said he looked forward to working with them. “I am excited for the warm welcome and I urge you to remain steadfast in observing Christian ways despite the challenges we are facing in our day to day activities,” he said.

He urged the Catholic followers to take care of the less fortunate in society and maintain a sense of brotherhood.

At his final destination, Anyolo arrived to the applause of worshippers who were waiting for him at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi.

His convoy was decorated with flowers, but the car he rode in was written ‘Karibu Baba Askofu’ on the number plate. One worshipper, James Waweru, said he heard the newly-appointed Archbishop was coming to the church and resolved to attend his first-ever mass.

Anyolo was welcomed by Cardinal John Njue, who showed him some of the projects the church had initiated. 

Reports by George Njunge, Fidelis Kabunyi and Nanjinia Wamuswa

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