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Another key witness of beatified Nyaatha dies at 106

The Catholic Church fraternity has lost yet another key witness of beatified Sister Irene Stefani (Nyaatha).

Centenarian Mrs. Elizabeth Muthoni Nyaga, a resident of Kiirungi village, Gikondi division, Mukurwe-ini Sub County, Nyeri breathed her last at the Nyeri’s Outspan hospital, where she was rushed after a short and age-related illness.

She was aged 106 having been born in 1917.

Confirming the sad incident, Nyeri Catholic Archdiocesan Postulator, Father Peter Githinji Nyaga, termed Elizabeth’s death a big loss to the Catholic Church as she was one of the two remaining witnesses who knew Sister Nyaatha firsthand, having been taught catechism and some basic education by the distinguished Italian Nun.

“Elizabeth was taught catechism and how to read and write by Sister Irene (Nyaatha). She was a devout Catholic who has taught many about catechism and Catholic faith sacraments, besides serving in various leadership positions at Our Lady of Divine Providence, Gikondi Catholic Church’s Christian Women Association (CWA),” Father Githinji disclosed.

The Postulator said Elitha, as she was fondly referred to locally, had served as the chairlady for the local Mary Magdalene Jumuiya (Small Christian Community), adding that she had contributed a lot to the spread of Christianity in Gikondi and surrounding areas.

He revealed that the centenarian, who is also his grandmother, will be laid to rest at her home near Kiharo trading centre in Gikondi division next Friday, July 7th, after a funeral service at the Gikondi Catholic Parish.

The priest’s sentiments were echoed by Mrs. Elizabeth Wamuyu Githinji, who eulogized the deceased as a ‘saint’ owing to her commitment to the gospel and her prayer life’.

“Elitha was a true Christian who loved everybody. At her home, she had a special room where she used to seek God. If anybody visited her while in that room praying, she couldn’t usher them in,” revealed Wamuyu, saying she was recruited to CWA by her in 1979.

According to online sources, Sister Irene Stefani was cleared for beatification in 2014 after a miracle traced to her intercession was ratified.

She was beatified on May 23, 2019 in Nyeri, by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo on behalf of Pope Francis.

Stefani served as a nurse in Kenya, and it was while stationed at Gikondi that the locals nicknamed her Nyina wa Nyaatha (mother of mercy) due to her unmatched self-sacrifice and kindness she demonstrated while she served them.

Unfortunately, many of the credible witnesses that the Consolata Missionary Nun interacted with before succumbing to the bubonic plague on October 31, 1930, and living to witness her beatification seven years ago have since passed on; currently, only one remains.

The other departed witnesses include John Baiye, who died months after Sister Nyaatha was beatified; Catherine Wangari (Gaterina); and Emma Wangeci (Wagachomba).

By Kamiri Munyaka

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