Anthony Muheria, the Bishop of Kitui, is a University of Nairobi trained engineer who quit employment to serve the Church. He spoke to JOHN LAWRENCE on among others; his membership to Opus Dei, his CBK Governor brother and Pope Francis
You are a member of the Opus Dei. Has that influenced your work
First, I am a Catholic. Second, I am a Catholic Bishop and within that there is what I refer to as ‘a call within a call’ where you have a certain mission that you may require to accomplish. In Opus Dei, the mission has always been to try and encourage the lay people to lead a life in their fullness of Christianity by being in a society where they engage the society, Christianize and empower lay Catholics by assisting the word through living.
Opus Dei requires dedication to prayer, work, serious diligence by uplifting people and giving others hope so that people can realise their role in the world and seek to live an upright life. That is what I have been trying to do all my life since I became a priest in the Opus Dei.
The Catholic Church has several religious congregations, why did you settle on Opus Dei
The Opus Dei is not exactly a religious congregation but instead a prelature; an organisation in the Catholic Church of different nature to our congregations.
I came in touch with Opus Dei just before going to the university. I went to Strathmore College and that is when I saw the beauty of this new light of seeing how life lived as a lay person can be. But within that call, I realised that there was need for priest. That is something that happens in Opus Dei. I thought maybe God could be asking that I be one of those who can live out their priesthood serving lay people.
I thought about my classmates in the university who were having issues about their Christian life and perhaps not being reached easily by the ordinary priest or others. Then I said why can’t it be me in that process So, I told the Opus Dei Bishop that I wanted to be a priest and that is how I left my work and started the journey to priesthood.
What were you doing before priesthood
I studied civil engineering at the University of Nairobi and after my graduation, I went to work as an engineer for years. I was working before I left that job, resigned and went to the seminary to study priesthood. I worked from 1984 up to mid 1989 when I answered my second call that is a story that the papers carried during my ordination. I think it is also good to focus about a person’s calling and this has nothing to do with an individual’s qualifications in terms of degrees. I have known many effective and holy priests who may not have been endowed intellectually but they are solid and I owe them a lot because some of them are able to run pastoral centres in an amazing way.
Yes, as I told you earlier, Dr Patrick is my brother in a family of eight. He is the second born in our family and I would suggest that you get to him to ask him more about himself. It is only fair that I don’t talk for him, as I may also be very biased since he is my brother. All I can say is that I admire him and congratulate him.