The Catholic denomination is undoubtedly the largest among Christian faithfuls in Kenya. As such, being named the Archbishop of the biggest Archdiocese of Nairobi is not only an adorable title, but it also comes with huge responsibilities.
On 28th October, 2021 exactly 1 p.m local time, it was officially published that Pope Francis had appointed Archbishop Philip Anyolo as the new Archbishop of the Nairobi diocese.
“I have the honour and pleasure to inform you that Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Phillip Anyolo as the Archbishop of Nairobi,” said Archbishop Bert Megen on behalf of the Vatican.
Anyolo will now succeed Emeritus Cardinal John Njue who retired on January 4, 2021 upon attaining the official retirement age of 75. Anyolo has been serving as the Kisumu Archbishop since his appointment in November, 2018.
Archbishop Philip Anyolo was born on May 18, 1956 (65 years) in Tongaren constituency, Bungoma. The man of the cloth attended Mother of Apostles Minor Seminary, in Eldoret for his secondary education. The school is situated off the Eldoret – Kisumu road. He then joined St Augustine Major Seminary Mabanga, in Bungoma county.
Anyolo’s interest to pursue the shepherd role was influenced by two Irish priests and a Kenyan one (Bishop Philip Sulumeti) who were serving in Bungoma during his teenage days.
In 1983, aged only 27, Anyolo was ordained as the priest of Eldoret Diocese. His career took a meteoric rise in December, 1995 when Pope John Paul II appointed him the Bishop of Kericho and then got ordained in February the following year.
The Holy Father John Paul II then appointed Anyolo as the Apostolic Administrator of the Homa Bay Diocese in 2002. Later, in 2003, Anyolo was appointed the Bishop of Homa Bay Diocese.
In November 2018, Anyolo was appointed the Archbishop of Kisumu and was installed on January 12, 2019. Finally, he has been appointed to serve in the Nairobi Archdiocese.
While conducting a requiem mass a day after his appointment in his birth place of Tongaren, Anyolo asked for Kenyans to pray for him ahead of his new task.
“Just like any calling to serve the Lord, it is not anything easy, but we depend on the prayers of the people to give us strength,” he said.
- Pioneered the construction of Bishop Philip Anyolo Boys High School, Kikamwe.
Chair – Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (2013-2021).
The controversial Ruto’s car gift
However, the During his installation ceremony in 2019 held on Uzima Grounds in Kisumu, Deputy President William Ruto gifted Anyolo a brand new Mitsubishi Pajero 2012. The vehicle was later donated after it emerged that Anyolo already had a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 that was given to him by his congregants.
ODM leader Raila Odinga alleged that the Pope had instructed Anyolo not to accept Ruto’s gift, something that irked the latter.
“Those who believe in witchcraft, the magicians and those who worship evil spirits are offended and do not like what we are doing in churches. We are telling them we are not going to stop participating in the development of churches,” Ruto fumed.