In 2017, Fr Anthony Muheria became the first Opus Dei priest in Africa to be named an archbishop. Today the Archbishop of Nyeri is being mentioned as a potential future leader of the Kenyan Catholic Church.
Although the 56-year-old is relatively young for an archbishop, he has three decades of experience, first as a priest, then as a bishop (of Embu and later Kitui) and now as the leader of the metropolitan see of one of Kenya’s four ecclesiastical provinces.
“This is no small achievement,” Jesse Kanyiri, a parishioner at the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi, said.
The archbishop is soft-spoken but nevertheless a strong promoter of justice.
“On this, Archbishop Muheria stands out as he is down-to-earth, committed to matters relating to justice,” commented Mercy Kamau, another parishioner at the Cathedral Basilica.
The archbishop often appears on radio and television discussing issues of great concern to Kenyan society, such as corruption.
This month Sunday Nation, Kenya’s mass-circulation weekly, ran an article hailing Archbishop Muheria as a rising star.
The author, Makau Mutua, wrote: “Most Kenyans know, or should know, that the Kenyan Church as a whole has lost much of its moral authority over the last decade. The Church has allowed itself to be politicised and tribalised … Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Nyeri Archdiocese may come to the rescue.”
Mutua, a Kenyan-American law professor, said that the archbishop was “in a different league” and that “I’ve simply been blown away by his vast intellect but rare humility.”
The archbishop’s rapid rise suggests that he is also viewed favourably by the Vatican.
“Otherwise, how would you explain this scenario where within such a short period of time he has moved to serving the Church as a priest, bishop and now an archbishop?” asked Willie Mwangi, a Catholic layman. “Who knows, he could be our next cardinal.”