A Missionary Journey in Kenya

Receiving more than I give

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Born to New Life at 101

Sorry for the long silence… since coming back to Kionyo there has been a lot of activity and a lot of absences from the pastoral team, which means more work for those left behind. 

Today I celebrated the funeral for a wonderful old man who died at the age of 101 (and 1 month): Eustace Mungania.  I include the eulogy (at the end) from the Requiem Mass which was conducted in the rain, at the family home… outside.  Luckily, they provided 3 x 50 person tents plus a small tent for the priest and another for the coffin. 

Lucky for them, it rained at the beginning of Mass, so I cut my introduction by half, then again at the time of the readings and the homily, so I cut that in half, too.

Last year, after our Centenary Mass for the Diocese of Meru, I transported our elderly friend home in the car.  His wife (only 80 and very active), was telling me today that he has not stopped talking about that trip home… I’m not sure whether it was fear of the driver, or the fact that a white man was his chauffer.  When you read the eulogy, you will understand the latter reason.  He had a wonderful sense of humour and was talkative and interested in many things.

I made a change to the program (as they were running late), and requested the speeches come after the burial (usually they come after Mass before the burial).  I relented and allowed the eulogy to be read after Mass, and then, as the rain ran away, I said let’s do the burial.  Some people were very happy, and others looked a bit disappointed.  But after the burial, people were free to talk for as long as they wanted.  I had another appointment, so after 40 minutes of chatting with the wife and other family members, I headed home.

After reaching home, I changed my bag and headed off to the Minor Seminary, in Nkubu, for confessions of the Form 4 students (Year 12) preparing for Mass the next day (with their parents).  I was told it was one class (I assumed 40 odd).  When I arrived 20 minutes late, no one was ready… so we started at 4:45pm with a short intro, and some free advice about the common sins (saves repeating myself 50 times).  After 1 hour 45 minutes, the local priest came in and I though they must be finished, and he said “what shall we do, you will have to cut your spiritual direction to finish everyone.”  I said, “Oh, I thought we must be finished.”  He said, “No, there are 30 more and it is now dark.”  I said, “It’s OK, if I stop now i will never get started again.  But I thought there were only 40?”  He said, not it is the whole year group = 89!”  So, I finished at 8:15pm after 3 hours and 15 minutes of individual confessions… funny, I never felt tired.  The young men were so honest and looking for advice.

Afterwards, I went to the common room of the priests and there was an Italian man there (say 60 and his first trip out of Italy).  This is noteworthy because he brought a few bottles of white wine (he comes from Torino in the North).  They opened one while I was having a bite to eat, and it was very effervescent and pleasant to the palate… but according to some people (Fr Tony), that is no recommendation!  It was hard, but I limited myself to one glass, then jumped on the motorbike and headed home (12km up the hill).  As I left it was dry, by the time I left town it was spitting.  But it was just spitting all the way, so thanks be to God I arrived home dry.

Now, I have just written this blog, because I knew if I didn’t do it now it would never happen!  The old man and the funeral really touched me.  I hope it inspires you, too.  The Mama (wife) is amazing… then I met her too sisters!  So here is a photo of the three of them… such character in their faces (I asked permission to publish, and they laughed after the catechist translated).

2012-10-19 - Funeral Kionyo - Eustace Mungania (4)
Left-Right: Charity (wife and Sister No. 3 = youngest, & now a widow), Sister No. 2, Sister No. 1 (oldest).

The Sister No. 1 has a wonderful face, full of character – happy, yet full of stories.  Charity was not sad, but happy for him, and not worried about being looked after as she has her large family.

OK, enough for now… the Eulogy is below:
Take care and God Bless, Gerard

MZEE= respectful title for an elder or older person.

MAUMAU = the fight for independence with the British… just now there was a victory in the English Courts acknowledging Human Rights Abuses and torture during the fighting.  Look up the INTERNET.

Nickname from the Fight for Independence: KAUNANGE MUMERU


The Late Mungania M'Raria was born in 1911. He was son to Late Mr. and Mrs. M'Raria Njara. He was husband to Charity Nkuene. He was brother to Late Alice Karingi M'Ikinga of Chuka, Late Celina Solomon of Murungurune, Late Gatwiri King'uru, Eunice Kanachi Kariuki of Murungurune, Late Margaret Igoki, Late Muthoni Mukura, Late M'Mugambi M'Raria, Late Michael Mugira, Mr. Charles Manyara M'Raria and Mwariumwe M'Raria.

He was father to Late Rebecca Kathera, George Kimathi, Joyce Mwari Kariuki, Susan Kathambi, Jackson Kithinji, Michael Ikunda, Moses Kirimi, Late Stella Nkatha and Kenneth Mwirigi.

He was brother in law to Gerard Muthamia, Japhet Kiugu, Ikunda M'Mburugu, Silas Manene Kibiti, Josphine Gilbert, Faith M'Rinkanya, Late Charity Kirigia, Late Agnes Micheck and Salome Kaburu among others.

He was father in law to Titus Kiruki, Jeremy Riungu, Late George Kimathi, Muthuri Nahason, Joyce Kagendo K'imathi, Faith Kajuju Kithinji, Peninah Nkirote Ikunda, Roseline Kagwiria Kirima and Sarah Kajuju Mwirigi.

He had 35 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.


At an early age Mzee Eustac left for Mujwa. He grew up among the Catholic Missionaries (Consolata) who took him to school in Mujwa. He joined Primary School at Mujwa Catholic Mission. He left school at standard four.


He was baptized at a tender age by Catholic Missionaries at Mujwa. He grew up as a staunch Catholic. He was a prayerful Christian and always implored on his children to put God first in all that they do.

When he became sick and weak and could no longer attend church services he always sent his contributions. to the church. He was a committed member of Kionyo Catholic Church and an active member of Karathune Small Christian Community.


Mzee met and married his beloved wife Charity Nkuene in1953 under the customary law. They were blessed with nine(9) children (five sons and 4 daughters). They later ceremonised their marriage in 1996 at St. Stephen Catholic Church, Kionyo. They have lived happily together till his demise.


Mzee was employed in early 1940’s by the colonial government as Agricultural Officer until the State of Emergency was declared in 1952.


While working for the Colonial Government, Mzee secretly joined the MauMau Movement. When the war for independence intensified, Mzee stopped working for the Colonial Government and joined other MauMau members in the forest. In 1949 he became the leader of the Meru MauMau members based in Nairobi where he had relocated. Among the other MauMau members leaders in Nairobi, there was a prominent Kikuyu leader by the name Koinange. Mzee was named Kaunange Mumeru to distinguish him from the Kikuyu leader Koinange and this name became famous and stuck to him until his demise.

While working as the leader of MauMau from Meru, in 1953 he was arrested by the Colonial Government. He was tried in a Nairobi Law Court and sentenced to 7 years in jail. This was a big blow to his young family coming only four months after wedding his wife.

He served for five years at Manyani Prison and was transferred to Embu Prison where he served for one year both under hard labour. He was released in 1958 and put under Colonial Supervision. While in prison, he trained as a mechanic. In 1959 he started a mechanic garage at Kanyakine Market specializing in motorbikes and bicycle repair.

Later he moved to Nairobi and continued in businesses as follows: painting, hotels and liquor. In 1970's he relocated to Kionyo market and continued with liquor and hotel businesses and farming.


Mzee was friendly, humble, caring and selfless. He was always ready and available whenever needed, he was ready to listen to all classes and ages of people.


Mzee served in different community activities. He was a committee member of Kionyo Primary School for many years, Chairman Karathune Water Project, Chairman Karathune Tea Buying Centre, member of Council of Elders for Abogeta Location, Vice-Chairman Meru MauMau Welfare Association, Chairman of Abonchenge Clan. During the Kanu Regime, he was the Vice-Chairman of Abogeta Location. He served as Chairman during land consolidation and adjudication.


Mzee started ailing in the year 1995. He was treated in various hospitals including Chogoria Mission, Nkubu Mission, Meru General Kanyakine District Hospital, Kiirua Mission, Cottolengo, Aghakan Hospital Nairobi, Kenyatta National, Kikuyu Mission Hospital among others.

On Saturday 13th October 2012, Mzee passed away while asleep. May the name of the Lord be praised. We loved you Dad but God loved you more. God gave Eustac and God has called him back to dwell in his Eternity. Amen.


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