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Hundreds of mourners gathered at Loreto Convent School to pay their last respects to the former Archbishop of Mombasa, Most Rev. Boniface Lele.

Traffic along the busy Digo and Nkrumah Roads came to a standstill as mourners escorted the casket bearing the late Archbishop’s body from Loreto Convent School where the requiem mass was held to his final resting place at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, about  500 metres away.

Archbishop Lele, 67, was laid to rest on Tuesday, April 22 inside a grotto carved out of a coral rock beneath the Cathedral in a ceremony that brought together senior politicians, a cabinet secretary and religious leaders from various denominations.

Speaker after speaker led by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, John Cardinal Njue paid glowing tribute to a man famed for his simplicity and generosity. They spoke fondly of the archbishop, describing him as the epitome of humility and whose passing on had seen people come together in peace, a symbol that he was a man who embraced peace in his life.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s message of condolence was read by Lands Cabinet Secretary, Mrs. Charity Ngilu, where he termed the late archbishop as a selfless son of Kenya who served the country with dedication.

In his homily, the Bishop of Kitui, Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria described Archbishop Lele as a great inspiration to many priests and singled him for his commitment to the mission of the Church. “Despite his failing health, he remained true to his priestly vows, especially that of obedience and celibacy,” said Bishop Muheria. “He started many projects to help the destitute in the society, especially victims of HIV/AIDS. He helped to set up Nyumbani Village in Kitui to cater for HIV/AIDS orphans. In Mombasa, he started a project to rehabilitate commercial sex workers, among many other projects.”

Bishop Muheria said the late archbishop was a kind man who gave all he had to help the needy in the society. “It is unfortunate, however, that some people tried to take advantage of him due to his failing memory due to illness.”

Also present at the burial was the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, His Excellency Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, who read a message of encouragement to the Church in Kenya and the family of the late Archbishop Lele from the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Others were Catholic Bishops in Kenya, the clergy, religious and laity, including former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Senators Moses Wetangula and Anyang Nyongo, MPs, and other dignitaries.
Born on April 14, 1947 in Kitui, the late archbishop Lele died on April 9, 2014 at a Mombasa Hospital. He suffered cardiac arrest.

He was ordained Catholic priest of Kitui diocese on December 8, 1974, and appointed Bishop of Kitui on February 2, 1996.

Pope John Paul II appointed Lele Archbishop of Mombasa on April 1, 2005 to succeed Archbishop John Njenga where he served until Nov 1, 2013 when the Holy Father accepted his resignation on health grounds.

He was the fourth archbishop of Mombasa.

 

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