Rev John Njenga To Be Buried Today, President Kenyatta Pays Final Tribute

He retired as the Archbishop of Mombasa in 2005 after leading the archdiocese for 17 years.

Retired Archbishop John Njenga who died on November 4 will be buried in the precincts of the Holy Family Basilica on Tuesday.


He retired as the Archbishop of Mombasa in 2005 after leading the archdiocese for 17 years.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are attending the funeral mass at the University of Nairobi grounds.

The former vice president Moody Awori is also in attendance.

In his autobiography, Mr Awori said that it was Archbishop Njenga who converted him to Catholicism by teaching him the catechism at the Holy Ghost College, now known as Mang’u High School.

Other key personalities who were at Holy Ghost College at the same time as Archbishop Njenga are former president Mwai Kibaki, Dr Lawrence Sagini and trade unionist Tom Mboya.

After the funeral mass, the body will be taken to Holy Family Basilica where it will be buried at a recently-created crypt, an underground burial site.


The retired archbishop will be the first to be buried in the crypt, much as he was the first indigenous priest to be ordained at the Archdiocese of Nairobi in 1957.

Had Archbishop Emeritus John Njenga not indicated his wish to be buried in Nairobi, his remains would have been interred in Mombasa, the archdiocese he led for 17 years.

On Tuesday, he will be the first person to be laid to rest at a special place created recently at the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi, according to Fr Willybard Lagho, the vicar-general of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa.

He cannot be buried inside the Holy Family Cathedral as it happened with Bishop Cornelius Korir who was buried inside the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Eldoret in November 2017.


Fr Lagho explained that a bishop is only buried inside a church if he dies while in office.

Archbishop Njenga retired in 2005 as the archbishop of Mombasa. As such, his burial site will be a crypt — a room under the floor of a church where bodies are buried — at the Holy Family Basilica. Fr Lagho said the crypt is outside the cathedral, but within the building’s compound.

“The special crypt was constructed a few years ago by the clergy of Nairobi, who wanted to have special graves for bishops,” he said. “It has several spaces for the burial of bishops and archbishops and even a cardinal. He happens to be the first to die after the crypt was created.”

Archbishop Njenga could have been the second person to be buried at the cathedral. However, the first bishop of Nairobi, John Joseph McCarthy, was buried in his native country of Ireland, where he moved after his retirement.

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Another senior Catholic figure buried in Nairobi archdiocese is Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga.


The Catholic Mirror, a publication of Kenya’s Catholic Bishops, says Cardinal Otunga was initially buried at St Austin’s Cemetery in Msongari before his remains were exhumed and interred at the Resurrection Gardens in Karen following the commencement of his beatification process.

Burying Archbishop Njenga in Nairobi will be a way of honouring him, Fr Lagho said.

When he was ordained as a priest in February 1957, he made history for being the first indigenous Kenyan to reach that milestone in the entire archdiocese of Nairobi.

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“The honour of burying him outside the Basilica is given to him by the Archdiocese of Nairobi led by Cardinal John Njue. In honour of his pioneering as a clergyman who rose to the ranks of an archbishop and who chose to be buried in Nairobi, the fitting place is the Cathedral,” he said.

Archbishop Njenga died aged 90 at Nairobi’s Mater Hospital on November 4. Ahead of his burial on Tuesday, there will be a funeral Mass at the University of Nairobi grounds from 10am. Those who wish to view his body should arrive at the grounds by 7am.

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