Retired Archbishop Ndingi laid to rest in low-key event
Irene Githinji @gitshee
Retired Catholic Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki was yesterday laid to his final resting place at a crypt inside Nairobi’s Holy Family Minor Basilica, in a low-key event owing to prevailing challenges posed by Covid-19 disease.
Head of Catholic Church in Kenya, John Cardinal Njue presided over the short mass, which only saw about 100 people attend, in observance of social distancing directive amid heightened caution to avoid the spread of the disease.
Njue, assisted by the Auxiliary Bishop of Nairobi, David Kamau described Ndingi as a bold and selfless person, who was not threatened by the powers that were during his tenure and raised his voice to defend the poor.
Ndingi was also described as a man who tirelessly fought for truth and social justice.
“We all know the values for which the late Archbishop defended and fought for. He did not go by the minds of the day and neither was he compromised to be quiet about the ills that were affecting the people.
He instead raised his voice and in the process ended up opposing strife voices of those in political positions, especially when they were wrong on political and social standing,” said Kamau.
Ndingi, who dared to speak truth to power, was the second bishop to be buried in a crypt after Archbishop John Njenga.
The burial took place even as President Uhuru Kenyatta separately indicated that they will conduct a major service in his honour once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Uhuru, who followed the mass on television from State House, was represented in church by Kennedy Kihara from the Executive Office of the President. Kihara, delivered the President’s message, in which he urged Kenyans to emulate Ndingi’s good character.
“The world has lost a great leader, whose loss is not only to this country, but in the whole world... His Excellency has asked us all to emulate the character of the late Archbishop Ndingi…” said Kihara.
Also in attendance were close family members and various bishops and priests, donned in purple vestments and stoles that represents penance as well as remind mourners to pray for absolution of the departed.
Notable leaders present included Chief Justice David Maraga, his deputy Philomena Mwilu, retired Presbyterian Church of East Africa moderator Timothy Njoya among several other clerics, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.
Kamau urged Kenyans to be cautious of their actions whether in power or not. He also challenged Kenyans to emulate Ndingi, who fought for the innocent, persecuted, the least in the society and learn how to place the fate of others first to be the good leaders the world is asking for.
“If we set God as our goal, and focus on Him and not the fame and prestige, we can do so much for our society, that is what Archbishop Ndingi did… let us all therefore, in emulating him, learn how to place the fate of others before our own,” added Kamau.
Ndingi’s eulogy, read by Fr Lawrence Njoroge, outlined the various achievements in the line of duty including opening 15 parishes in his 10-year tenure in Nairobi, translating to three parishes every two years.
“He, Archbishop Raphael Ndingi, touched the lives of many people in this country and beyond, he was generous with many gifts.
Among his attributes is that he was kind and sometimes stubborn, deeply spiritual, here lies a patriot who loved God, church and country,” said Fr Njoroge.
In the early 1960s, Ndingi helped establish a hostel at Our Lady of the visitation church Makadara to host homeless youth in the city while in the late 90s, he led a massive campaign to alleviate hunger and find a permanent solution.
He is also remembered for selling his car to buy land for the victims of the tribal clashes in the Rift Valley.
Pope John Paul II appointed Ndingi a member of the pontifical council for culture, a task he is said to have carried with competence, vigour and joy.
He was consecrated bishop by Pope Paul VI and served in the dioceses of Machakos (1969-1971), Nakuru (1972-1996) and lastly Nairobi until his retirement in 2007.
After his retirement he spent a quiet peaceful life at the Clergy Home in prayer and hosting visitors who often went to seek counsel from him. Ndingi passed on peacefully on March 30, aged 89.