Click here to listen to Thome FM Live

St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish, Mutune

Fr. Paul White (Holy Ghost Father) was shown a plot in Mutune for the Church by the then Chief Katee whose home was at Kwa-Ngindu after he had been denied one at Kaveta due to protestant influence in the area. The plot was that of traditional place of Sacrifice of the area, which was widely known as the “Kithembeo kya Mue wa Mbeke”. On 2nd February 1945 Fr. White arrived in Kitui with a lorry-load of mabati and other materials and stayed in the house of the principal of the Government African School (G.A.S) in Kitui as he built the priests’ house at Mutune. This was during World war 11, and on February 22nd, he managed to get three Italian Prisoners –of-war from a major Kelly in Camp 361 at uplands, a carpenter and two bricklayers. These lived in a tent on the site at Mutune, and there is no mention of them ever trying to escape.

The early days were spent drawing bricks to the plot from where chief Katee had burned them 7 miles away with Francis Pereira assisting in this work. Then on 17th March 1945, on the feast of St. Patrick, Fr. White said the first mass on the Mutune plot. The next day (18th) he said the first official Sunday mass in the L.N.C. (Local Native Council) Hall in the Boma, between the present K.A.F.O.C.A. and the court house. About 50 people were there, mostly goans working in the Government services.

On 4th April Fr. White was granted written permission to teach religion in Schools and on 6th April he held his first catechumen class in Mutune from 5-6 p.m. with about 35 present. Then on 9th April he had another baptism, this time of an old man in danger of death in Kitui hospital. He called the old man Andrea, the man died two days later. The fourth baptism, that of the 3-day old infant John Pereira, took place on 29th July.

The climate mustn’t have been very suitable for one of the Italian P.O.W.’s, who was always sick at this time. Fr. White went to the hospital to get a thermometer and was not amused at being kept waiting for over an hour by the new Indian doctor there. On 15th April 1945 Fr. J.J. McCarthy (who was later to become the first Archbishop of Nairobi) arrived for a visit.

Fr. White already had an eye to expansion, and on 28th April 1945 he wrote to “the chap at (Chief) Kasina’s place” (Migwani) about a school plot. He walked to kauma on 1st May1945 and got an idea of looking for a plot for a Catholic School there.

During 1944 a brother Sabinus had been building the first Catholic Church in Machakos town on the site of the present cathedral. Then on 3rd July 1945 he arrived by bus in Kitui. With the three Italian P.O.W.’s he completed the building of the Mutune mission in record time. On 13th July 1945, he and Fr. Paul White took up residence in the new mission at Mutune. On 26th August they had the first mass on the verandah of the house. On 25th December 1945 he said his first mass in the new Mutune Church, after a great rush to get it finished on time.

The last entry in his Journal for 1945 reads as follows:- “By God’s Grace a new mission has been built during the past year. Rosary and Te Deum at 6.p.m. in the church”.

Easter Sunday (20th March1946) saw the church at Mutune packed, and the Blessed Sacrament reserved for the first time. On 27th October 1946 Fr. J.J. McCarthy C.S.Sp. became Bishop and Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar and Fr. Giltinan attended his consecration in Nairobi. Since his arrival in July, Fr. Giltinan had been saying Sunday masses regularly at Museve.

On 17th January 1947 the new bishop, McCarthy, arrived in Mutune and went with Fr. White to see the new plot at Muthale. That same evening they went to Museve. Two days later the Bishop blessed Mutune Mission, with about 300 present, mostly school children. From Mutune Fr. White and his companions opened up other stations and schools in Mutune , Museve, Mutukya, Migwani and other parts of Kitui Diocese