Established in 1998
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale is one of the ecclesiastical territories in Kenya under the Metropolitan see of Kisumu. Established in August 1998, this Diocese covers the vast Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties in the North Rift region of Kenya. The diocese borders the Republic of Uganda to the west, Turkana County to the north, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and Uasin Gishu Counties to the east and Bungoma and Kakamega Counties to the South. It currently has seven deaneries including Cathedral deanery, Kolongolo deanery, Kiminini Deanery, Suwerwa Deanery, Tartar deanery, Kapenguria deanery and Ortun Deanery. The Catholic Diocese of Kitale is currently comprised of 35 parishes. Rt. Rev. Henry Juma Odonya is the current Bishop, having taken over from the diocese founding Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley SPS.
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale (CDK), was established in August 1998 with His Lordship Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley as its founding Bishop. The diocese was hived off from the then larger Catholic Diocese of Eldoret (CDE). Its history is thence closely intertwined with that of the diocese of Eldoret.
At the beginning of the last century, the then larger diocese of Eldoret was a part of the Uganda protectorate and belonged to the ecclesiastical territory then known as the Vicariate of the Upper Nile. At the time, it was administered as part of western Kenya mission by the Mill Hill missionaries who were based in Kisumu. The western Kenya mission then, covered the entire area from Naivasha to Lodwar. It was part of the Vicariate of the upper Nile whose headquarters was in Mengo in Kampala. It was not until 1920 when Kenya became a colony, that it ceased to be administered from Kampala.
Eldoret became a resident mission in 1929. At that time, it also served as a base for priests who travelled to Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Baringo and Keiyo Marakwet to establish catechumenate and secure plots for schools and parishes. It was then that the early missionaries opened the following churches in the present-day diocese of Kitale, i.e. Tartar in 1946, Kituro and Tambach in 1944, Nerkwo in 1947, and Kiminini church in 1951. The Kiminini a co-education TTC was also established in 1951 and was later moved to St. Joseph’s near Kitale. The Kitale Immaculate Conception church was established in 1918.
In 1952, the prefecture of Eldoret was established with St. Patrick’s Kiltegan Fathers. In 1953, their missionary priest, Msgr Joseph Brendan Houlihan was appointed the Prefect Apostolic of Eldoret, which covered the entire area from Naivasha to Kitale to Lodwar and parts of western province.
In 1959, the Prefecture of Eldoret was raised to a diocese and Msgr Joseph Houlihan was appointed and consecrated as its first Bishop in 1960. Later in 1968, the Catholic Dioceses of Nakuru and Lodwar were hived off from the diocese of Eldoret. By 1990, the diocese of Eldoret comprised the Counties of Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Keiyo, Marakwet, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot.
In April 1998, Rome announced that a new Catholic Diocese of Kitale (CDK) had been established comprising the Counties of West Pokot and Trans Nzoia. It was also announced that Msgr. Maurice Anthony Crowley, who was then the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret had been appointed its first Bishop. He was ordained on 15th August 1998.
At its inception, the diocese had twenty-three parishes with 408 outstations. Its personnel then comprised of the Ordinary, one vicar general, two deans, 49 diocesan priests, 64 religious priests, 8 brothers, 63 sisters, with, 6,512 baptisms, 1,502 confirmations and 391 catechists.
It then established eight diocesan departments. These were: the vocations, education (which includes religious education), family life education, development and social services, Justice and Peace, water, health (which includes handicapped persons) and the social communication department. Currently, the Catholic Diocese of Kitale is one of the 26 Catholic jurisdictions in Kenya with 35 parishes served by Diocesan as well as religious priests.
Geographical Location and Size:
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale (CDK) comprises of Trans Nzoia and West Pokot Counties of Kenya. It borders the Republic of Uganda to the west, Turkana County to the north, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and Uasin Gishu Counties to the east and Bungoma and Kakamega Counties to the South as shown in the map titled, “The Counties of the Catholic Diocese of Kitale” appearing here-below.
The two Counties cover an area of approximately 11,665.0 square kilometers. Of this, Trans Nzoia County covers an area of 2,495.6 square kilometers or 21.4 percent, while West Pokot covers an area of 9,169.4 square kilometers or 78.6 percent.
As per the 2019 Population and Housing Census, the total population in the two Counties was 1,611,582 people. Trans Nzoia County constituted the larger population at 990,341 people which is 61.4 percent of the total population in the diocese. West Pokot comprised of 621,241.people of 38.6 percent of the total population.
As per the said 2019 population and housing census, the entire Republic of Kenya had a total population of 47,564,296 million. Thus, the population of the Catholic Diocese of Kitale of 1,611,582 is 3.39 percent.
The 2009 census results indicated that Protestants churches in Kenya has 15.7 million followers. Whereas the Catholic Church has 9.7 million followers. Other Christian churches account for 9.6 million followers.
Administrative Units and Parishes
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale covers two counties with a total of 9 sub-Counties; covering a total area of 11,665.0 square kilometers.
Trans Nzoia County comprises of 5 administrative sub-Counties namely; Kiminini, Saboti, Cherangany, Endebess and Kwanza. Trans Nzoia County comprises of a total of 21 Catholic parishes. The table below shows the administrative units, their sizes and the number of parishes in each unit.
West Pokot County comprises of 4 administrative sub-Counties namely; Pokot West, Pokot South, Pokot Central and Pokot North. West Pokot County comprises of a total of 14 Catholic parishes.
Overall in both Counties, just as it is nationally, continuous urbanization, privatization of land and climate change are threatening the major economic activities namely, agriculture and livestock keeping. These two Counties also face other economic challenges such as high unemployment, poor infrastructure, limited value addition to local products, high inflation that reduces peoples’ purchasing power, land based conflicts, low literacy levels and high cost of business.
Majority of the people in the diocese of Kitale live in the rural areas. They practice mixed farming; combining agriculture with livestock keeping. It is estimated that some eighty percent of the population in the diocese is involved in agriculture and livestock keeping.
The situation in the sector of agriculture varies from one area to the other. This is because of the various ecological zones that exist, the way of living of the people, land use patterns, and opportunities of income earning through cash crop production and subsistence farming and/or livestock keeping.
Trans Nzoia is agriculturally a high potential County. It is famed for its production of maize. However, there is widespread unemployment and poverty in the area, fuelled by uneconomical land sizes, landlessness, marginalisation, conflicts, unemployment, unstable markets and the effects of HIV/AIDS pandemic.
During the colonial era, the white settlers occupied the entire Trans Nzoia County, most of them from South Africa. They practiced large-scale farming mostly for wheat and maize production. Some of these large farms still exist.
Most of these large farms are now owned mainly by the rural elites, co-operatives and/or the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC). Many large farms, previously bought by land-buying cooperatives and companies have been subdivided into small plots and given to shareholders. People living in the lowlands of West Pokot are mainly nomadic pastoralists who depend largely on their livestock combined with a little subsistence farming.
Most government or parastatal organisations in the diocese are based in Kitale town e.g. Agricultural Finance Co-operation (AFC), National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and the Kenya Seed Company (KSC). In both Counties, the informal sector absorbs thousands of unemployed youths.
West Pokot is a vast, mountainous, semi-arid region, comprising of small communities living in remote and isolated areas. Nomadic pastoralists graze cattle and goats throughout its interior. Residents of the two main centres namely; Kapenguria and Ortum, are engaged in small-scale farming, petty merchandising and sale of livestock especially poultry, goats and cattle. The main issues facing the people of West Pokot include; limited access to affordable health services, education and the availability of clean water.
In West Pokot, land is largely communally owned. Cases of landlessness are minimal with most parts of the land being unutilized because of communal ownership. Most parts of Pokot Central and all of Pokot North sub-Counties are communally owned. Cattle rustling with the neighbouring Turkana County is a common occurrence.
Nomadism is common in the County especially in Pokot north. However, agricultural production is fast emerging as a dominant economic undertaking. The main crops produced include maize, finger millet, potatoes, beans, onions sweet potatoes, green grams, peas, mangoes, oranges, bananas, coffee and pyrethrum.
Like in Trans Nzoia County, maize is the staple food in West Pokot County. It is mainly grown in Pokot West sub-County. Potatoes and pyrethrum are grown in Pokot South Sub-County. However, these food crops produced do not meet the food requirements of the County. There are 16 group ranches in West Pokot County covering an area of 125,072 ha. Most of the ranches are situated in Pokot Central and North Sub-Counties. Most of these ranches are communally organized. There is great potential for irrigation farming especially in Kainuk Loyapat region.
Distribution of industries is rather poor in both Counties. However, there are a few industries that mainly concentrate on food processing especially maize. There are central storage facilities for agricultural products.
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale, being part of the Northrift region, faces a tenuous ethnic relations and pattern of displacement of its population. This, combined with factors including high youth unemployment rates, poor security, the proliferation of small arms, land disputes, cattle rustling, and perennial challenge of ethnic violence particularly during the electioneering period, the diocese is at risk of recurring pattern of violent conflicts. This is a disturbing factor in the diocese. However, it is hoped though that calm will always prevail
In West Pokot County, conflicts are often both intra and inter community and nearly all revolve around control over and access to natural resources particularly water and pasture. Other sources of conflicts arise due to livestock raids and historical rivalry frequent along County boundary lines especially with Turkana and Egeyo Marakwet Counties.
Among the Pokots, intra-community conflicts largely occur due to land disputes. Land ownership in the County is both communal and freehold. Most of the communal lands, where pastoralism predominates, are found in the lowlands while freehold land ownership is largely in the highlands where land is arable.
The need to access the available land resources, during the dry spell, triggers conflicts between community members living on the lowlands and the highlands. These inter-community conflicts are the most prevalent conflict in the County and are caused by historical rivalry, cattle rustling and competition for water and pasture. Some of the impact associated with conflicts includes loss of lives, displacement of people, destruction of property and loss of livelihood.
Following the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, Kenya’s development model is anchored on a devolved governance structure, comprising 47 Counties. Basic service provision has been devolved to the County government level to create an enabling climate for accelerated development, poverty reduction, investment, and employment creation.
The Diocese of Kitale is keen to tap on the opportunities that exist in the Counties by collaborating with the Trans Nzoia and West Pokot County governments on development and service delivery.
Economic development has for centuries been intrinsically linked to technological innovation. Today, Kenya is pioneering a mobile technology economy that points to future trends in the rest of the world. Kenya’s technology services sector has grown tremendously, especially with installation of fibre optic cables in 2009, that brought new, faster internet connections and consequently, a drop in the cost of internet connectivity the number of people using the internet has grown to nearly 17.86 million. Most Kenyan internet users do so using mobile phones rather than expensive laptops..
The internet connectivity has shaped Kenya’s transactional systems in both the telecommunications and banking businesses. Kenya has bypassed the analogue age and has jumped straight into mobile digital networks. This, combined with few people having traditional bank accounts, provides the perfect setting for a thriving mobile payments-based economy.
The growth of social media in Kenya today is phenomenal. Every happening is well monitored by Kenyans on Twitter (KOT). It is overshadowing the mainstream media. A large following means influence in terms of providing information. High speed internet connectivity will exacerbate Kenya’s technological capabilities.
These developments are fast resulting in more efficient transport, higher potential for the use of alternative energy and possibilities for increased agricultural production including in the diocese of Kitale. On the social level, evangelization and pastoral work in the diocese of Kitale has greater potential due to general access of people linked to improved infrastructure and wider internet access.
It is in view of this that the diocese strives to professionalize its website and expand its use with timely interactions with users including individual and corporate donors, reviewing its website pages from time to time for re-designing, maintaining live Q&A sessions with users, staying current with unfolding events, updating videos and photos, photo shooting and maintaining live connections of the website with the official Diocese’s Facebook and other social media accounts.
1. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
2. St. John and Priscilla Sirende
3. St. Francis of Assisi Kapkoi
4. St. Peter’s Kaplamai parish
5. St. John the Baptist Kachibora
6. St. Paul’s Benon parish
7. St. Francis Suwerwa parish
8. St. Patrick’s Kibomet parish
9. St. Patrick’s Kipsaina parish
10. St. Francis Kapsara
11. St. Paul’s Bwayi
12. Emmanuel Barbaton parish
13. St. Peter’s Claver Kiminini parish
14. St. Joseph’s parish
15. Holy Trinity Saboti parish
16. Christ the King Mitume
17. St. Kizito Matisi
18. St. Pius Endebess
19. St. Andrew Kaggwa Kwanza
20. St. Zeno’s Kolongolo
21. Holy Family Chepchoina
22. Our Lady of Assumption Makutano
23. St. Teresa’s Tartar parish
24. St. Charles Lwanga Kapenguria
25. St. Peter’s Kabichbich
26. Mother of Peace Amakuriat
27. St. Daniel Comboni Kaptabuk
28. Holy Cross Kacheliba Rev. Fr. Charles Ndaijimana
29. St. Maria Regina Mundi Ortum
30. St. Paul’s P’Sigor parish
31. Christ the Good Shephard Lomut
32. The Risen Christ Chepnyal
33. Christ the King Mbara
34. St. Brandon Chepareria
35. St. Anthony Sina
1. Rt. Rev. Henry Juma Odonya
2. Rev. Fr. Abraham Birgen
3. Rev. Fr. Martin Tanui
4. Rev. Fr. Bonface Njogu
5. Rev. Fr. Gabriel Mulongo
6. Rev. Fr. Wycliffe Makokha
7. Rev. Fr. George Bakasa
8. Rev. Fr. Moses Nandakonya
9. Rev. Fr. Elisha Wasike
10. Rev. Fr. Peter Wafula
11. Rev. Fr. James Oranga
12. Rev. Fr. Leonard Kimosop
13. Rev. Fr. Chrispinus Werunga
14. Rev. Fr. Peter Nyamache
15. Rev. Fr. Daniel Ng’ang’a
16. Rev. Fr. Daniel Nakameti
17. Rev. Fr. Vincent Saturday
18. Rev. Fr. Bertrand Kundu
19. Rev. Fr. Boniface Wanyonyi
20. Rev. Fr. Julius Shibanda
21. Rev. Fr. Chrispine Okoth
22. Rev. Fr. Martin Wekesa
23. Rev. Fr. Micah Kemboi
24. Rev. Fr. Stephen Nyapola
25. Rev. Fr. Albert Oduogo
26. Rev. Fr. Gervais Katya
27. Rev. Fr. Paul Sunguti
28. Rev. Fr. Charles Ndaijimana
29. Rev. Fr. Michael Mugo
30. Rev. Fr. Alexander Kones
31. Rev. Fr. Cyprian Tum
32. Rev. Fr. Josephat Busienei
33. Rev. Fr. Michael Kikechi
34. Rev. Fr. Anthony CJ
35. Rev. Fr. Thomas Kimeu