The Catholic Diocese of Nakuru(CDN) was once a part of the ecclesiastical territory of the vicariate of the upper Nile. The Mill Hill missionaries arrived in western Kenya in 1904, where the church grew rapidly among the Luo, Luhya, and Kisii people. At that time, the area now covered by the Diocese was occupied by the white settlers, migrant laborers, and Kalenjin people in the Kipsigis and Tugen reserves.
In 1905, the first mission was opened at Naivasha; under the pastoral guidance of the Mill Hill Missionaries(MHM). This mission was opened by Fr. Luke Plunkett (MHM). Evangelization in Nakuru town(previously Nakuru Municipality) owes its origins back to 1907 when Fr. Thomas Mathews(MHM) obtained a plot for the church in Nakuru. This plot was at the current Nakuru showground, adjacent to St Ninian’s PCEA church.
Before this plot was developed, Fr Luke Plunkett used to celebrate mass once per month in the waiting room of Nakuru railway station.The number of Christians at the time was approximately 30; a majority of them were Goans and a few Ugandan Catholics-employees of the railway. When Fr. Plunkett left, Fr. Brandsma(MHM and later Bishop of Kisumu) continued this work; and a temporary chapel was built on the location bought by Fr. T. Mathews. it was placed under the patronage of Our lady of the Rosary.This was in 1914.
in 1927, a new plot (along now Moi Road)was given to the missionaries in exchange for the earlier plot at the show ground on which the chapel was built. when Monsignor Brandsma took over as the new vicar Apostolic of Kisumu, he relocated the Nakuru chapel from the showground plot to the new location along Lake road, nowadays called Moi road.
The Nakuru mission was officially opened in 1928 when Fr Thomas Turnbull(MHM) came to live in Nakuru. During the initial stages, the missions in Naivasha and Nakuru catered primarily to European and Goan Catholics working for the colonial government and their migrant African employees. This mobility of the African population limited progress of evangelization within white settler areas referred to as ‘white highlands’ in the reserves the conservative attitudes of the people coupled with resistance from other Christian missionaries made evangelization extremely difficult.
ERECTION OF THE DIOCESE OF NAKURU
On 11th January 1968, two separate jurisdictions were set up from Eldoret Diocese: Lodwar Prefecture Apostolic to the North, and Nakuru Diocese to the south. Monsignor John Mahon(SPS) was appointed the prefect Apostolic of the prefecture of Lodwar and Monsignor Denis Newman(SPS) was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Nakuru ‘ad nutum’
The relationship between these two ‘twin’ ecclesiastical jurisdictions which share a common erection date and ‘parent Diocese’ would be further cemented many years later in (2010) when a priest from the Diocese of Nakuru became Lodwar’s first African Bishop(Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich)
The Catholic Diocese of Nakuru is a suffragan of Nairobi Metropolitan and covers the administrative counties of Nakuru and Baringo. until January 1996, the Diocese of Nakuru consisted of the area now under the Catholic Diocese of Kericho(Kericho and Bomet counties)
ADMINISTRATION OF THE DIOCESE OF NAKURU
when the Diocese was erected, it was administered by an Apostolic Administrator, the late Monsignor Denis Newman of St Patrick’s Missionary society until 9th October 1971 when the then Bishop, Rt Rev.Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki of Machakos (Now emeritus of Nairobi) RIP was appointed Bishop of Nakuru. He served until 27th June 1996, when he was appointed Archbishop of Nairobi.
Between 1996 and 1997, very rev Moses Muraya Muchunu served as the Diocesan Administrator
on 21st April 1997, the then Bishop of Muranga, Rt. Rev. Peter Kairo(Now Archbishop Emeritus of Nyeri) was appointed Bishop of Nakuru and served until 19th April 2008, when he was appointed Archbishop of Nyeri.
Rt Rev Philip Anyolo, Bishop of Homabay served as Apostolic Administrator from June 2008 until 19th December 2009, when Rev Fr Maurice Muhatia Makumba was appointed the 3rd Bishop of Nakuru. He was consecrated and installed on 27th February 2010.
on 18th February 2022, Bishop Muhatia was appointed as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kisumu. On 19th March 2022, Bishop David Kamau Auxillary Bishop of Nairobi was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru.
On 15th February 2023, Fr Cleophas Oseso Tuka was appointed as the Bishop-Elect of the Nakuru Diocese. Bishop Kamau remained the apostolic administrator until the episcopal consecration and installation on 6th May 2023.
Currently, the Rt Rev Cleophas Oseso is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. His motto is Per Caritatem servite Invicem meaning through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13)