What you need to know:
- This follows the installation of Bishop Paul Kariuki as the first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Wote.
- Until July, when Pope Francis appointed him to head the country's newest Catholic diocese, Bishop Kariuki had served as head of the Embu diocese for 14 years.
The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has appointed Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri to lead the Diocese of Embu until a permanent bishop is appointed.
This follows the installation of Bishop Paul Kariuki as the first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Wote. Until July, when Pope Francis appointed him to head the country's newest Catholic diocese, Bishop Kariuki had served as head of the Embu diocese for 14 years.
"We are already starting the process of finding a new bishop for the Diocese of Embu, so any priest who feels called to be a bishop can apply. For the time being, since we have a vacancy, the Holy Father has appointed an apostolic administrator in the person of Archbishop Antony Muheria, who incidentally was Bishop of Embu years ago.
"We hope that in his capable hands, the Diocese of Embu will continue to grow the seeds that Bishop Kariuki has already planted," said Hubertus Maria Van Megen, Pope Francis' representative in Kenya and South Sudan, in Wote Town, Makueni County, on Saturday.
Archbishop Muheria's appointment in an acting capacity in Embu Diocese came as a great relief to the Catholic community in Embu County who felt orphaned following the transfer of Bishop Kariuki.
The Apostolic Nuncio made the announcement as he oversaw the official establishment of the Diocese of Wote and the installation of Kamau as its first Bishop in a colourful ceremony witnessed by thousands of Catholic faithful drawn mainly from Embu, Machakos and Makueni counties.
He advocated servant leadership among the clergy. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Governors Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Julius Malombe (Kitui), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) are among the leaders who attended the two ceremonies.
They hailed the recent developments as a historic moment for the Church and the region.
"The creation of Wote Diocese means that Makueni has finally been truly liberated," said Kilonzo Jnr, recalling that the region had been yearning for a diocese for decades.
Devolution Principal Secretary Teresia Mbaika, Kenya Medical Supplies Agency Acting Chief Executive Andrew Mulwa, Special Economic Zones Chairman Fred Muteti, Senators Agnes Kavindu (Machakos), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Makueni Speaker Douglas Mbilu and MPs Eric Karemba (Runyenjes), Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti), Mwengi Mutuse (Kibwezi West), Suzzane Kiamba (Makueni), Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East), Thaddeus Nzambia (Kilome), Stephen Mule (Matungulu) and Joyce Kamene (Machakos) said the creation of the new diocese and the installation of a bishop were answered prayers and marked the beginning of a new chapter in evangelism and last mile development through education and health care.
An elated Bishop Norman Kingoo, the head of Machakos Diocese, said: "The new diocese is a testimony that our faith has grown strong. The new diocese will strengthen evangelism. He presented Reverend Kariuki with a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VXL car donated by Machakos Diocese to facilitate his evangelism work. He revealed that the faithful of Machakos Diocese had offered Bishop Kariuki "in excess" of Sh30 million to help him settle down.
"We are also in the process of building a house for him. It will take some time," he added.
The Catholic community sees the creation of the Wote diocese and the appointment of Bishop Kariuki as evidence of the church's commitment to dominate a region that for decades has been seen as the flagship of the Protestant church.
The African Inland Mission and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa trace their roots to Makueni County in the 1800s. According to Mr King'oo, Catholicism entered what is now Makueni County through Kilungu in 1920, eight years after it entered Machakos County through the Holy Ghost Missionaries.