*Article written and compiled by WaErima*
When the news about the demise of Rev.Fr.Prof Mathenge reached me I went into a sombre mood for I knew DeKUT had lost a great personality. I first heard of the name Rev.Fr.Mathenge while I was still a fresher in DeKUT. I was informed that he would be my lecturer for the majorly despised unit Critical Thinking for the next three months. I was given description of this short, straightforward, precise, humorous father-figure priest. The latter caught my attention deep down. Why? Because I had once seen a future in priesthood while in innocent child life 🤗. And so I knew maybe, just maybe, my dream might be revived.
All through his life Rev.Fr.Mathenge lived healthy up to a point where he started suffering from diabetes. This has seen him going through tough theater moments in the country and abroad to fight for his life. He got well and was receiving medical care while at King’ong’o Parish where he breathed his last due to harsh struggles with diabetes.
Who is this famous great lecturer in DeKUT? Reverend Father Doctor Professor Donatus Mathenge was the Head of Chaplaincy and a Senior Lecturer at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) in Nyeri, Kenya. He taught Business Ethics, Philosophy, Anthropology, Ethical Issues in Security and Criminal Justice systems in the School of Business Management and Economics (SBME). He was a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri.
Rev.Fr.Mathenge was a great scholar in the country, continent and even globally. He obtained his PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Leuven, Belgium. He had specialised in Personality Ethics, Human Freedom and Divine Grace.
His scholarly nature brought in him interest in research on different topics such as ethical dimensions in leadership and management, academic honesty, social media, global trade, scientific innovations and technology not forgetting his best: Theology and African philosophy.
These research interests paved way for his writing skills to be put to action. He published more than fifteen research papers, which have featured in many international journals, namely; International Journal of Business and Social Science, European Journal of Business and Innovation Research, Journal of Energy Technologies and Policy, International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology, European Journal of Business and Management, Journal of Education and Practice Research, Journal of Finance and Accounting, International Affairs and Global Strategy, Industrial Engineering Letters, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Global Journal of Management and Business Research Administration and Management. His journal articles addressed topics such as ethical issues in money mobile transfer, police integrity, leadership, corporate governance, energy and environmental ethics, education and training, value systems in commercial banking, human resource, accounting and supply chain management and procurement and engineering and construction.
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He further published two books that have done so well in the continent and abroad. They are: Fundamentals of Business Ethics and Values published by International Institute of Science Technology and Education (IISTE) in 2012 and Ethics in Security Management and Criminal Justice published by Jomo Kenyatta publishers in Kenya.
In his well lived life, Rev.Fr.Mathenge has been a great key note speaker. He has given key note speeches on ethical and moral values relating to family, business transactions, individual decision making and management as well as theological and philosophical dimensions of human life to a number of conferences in different countries among them Canada, Israel, Germany, Italy, Spain, USA, Switzerland, Austria, Philippines and Uganda. In 2013, he gave a speech on environmental ethics (Living more humanely and sustainably) during the International Conference on Energy, Engineering, Science, Environment and Economy (EESE) in Bangkok, Thailand under IISTE publication. Furthermore, he was a member of several global organisations including:
- Global Ethics based in Switzerland.
- International Society for Development and Sustainability in Japan.
- American Institute for Ethics, San Diego.
- Ethics Society of South Africa Institute.
- 2003 appointed reviewer and Board member of European Journal of Business and Management by IISTE.
- Chair of Ethics and Integrity Committee at DeKUT.
In addition to all these he was the Catholic Action Chaplain until his demise as explained by the interim chairperson Eng. Omulindi in his own words below.
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Message from Interim Catholic Action Chairperson, Eng. Omulindi
“I have many things to talk about Fr Prof Donatus. I remember him telling me that his third name is called Gichuhi which he said means goat 😂. As a servant in the DeKUTCC and a member in the Inter-denominations committee I can say I have interacted a lot with prof Mathenge. In my free times I would pass by his office and we would chat for a long time not only about students religious affairs but all social, economic and political affairs.
Personally I have never seen a priest like him.He had the capabilities of uniting people majorly students from the whole denominations ranging from Muslim,SDA,CU and CA. As DeKUT CA interim chairperson I have been the closest student to Father until his rest on Wednesday. There are many things students never knew about Prof Mathenge which I knew. In his major seminary life prof was a very active student. He was the YCS leader at the time in the seminary and at the same time headed an inter religious organization in East Africa.
Due to his commitment and ability to unite students in the school, he was nearly suspended because of what the school called preaching non catholicity but due to his prayers the suspension did not go through. Father Mathenge wanted to know every detailed information about the Catholic students. What impressed me was that every time we lost a parent as the CA he would chip in his assistance. His Favorite song was “it’s me, it’s me, it’s me o Lord standing in the need of prayer.
The last day I talked to him he chatted a lot about the state of the Catholic Church in Kenya and the whole world. I asked him many questions including why did Hitler kill Israelites? Why do we have many Catholics in Central, Western and Nyanza? Why are cities in Southern America named after the saints? I can assure you I received answers to those questions. He said Germans killed Israelites because they crucified the son of God😂. We have many Catholics in South America because the original language of the church was Latin America. We chatted about circumcision in Kenya. One fascinating thing we talked about circumcision is that he was circumcised at the hospital while majority of his friends underwent traditional circumcision. He had disagreed with his uncles and his relatives on this but they eventually accepted it. We talked about politics and his favorite politicians were President Mwai Kibaki and the late Vice President Michael Wamalwa Kijana. Among his favorite quotes includes”Growth is the only sign of life”
“Everyone is important but not necessary”…..
Before he died he used to tell us “A time will come when I will not be there ,and am preparing you for that time”
In my life I have never interacted with a priest or a professor the way I did with Prof Mathenge.He would call me all sorts of names jokingly😂.He used to ask who my girlfriend is 😂 and when I said I don’t have one, he would ask me whether I didn’t think all those CA ladies were beautiful 😂
He used to say that if there is something he will always choose, it’s priesthood and I had no doubt about that. The most recent period we shared with Father was in early March at Ibis Hotel in Nyeri .He bought us a meal, we ate and parted. After that the pandemic came and Father stayed in his home at King’ong’o Parish. I talked to Father on calls during these hard times but I was saddened and overwhelmed with grief when I was informed that he was no longer with us.
Father Mathenge led the CA in a good way. He has brought financial stability and wealth to DeKUT CA through his knowledge and if I may say we might be the richest Student Association in DeKUT😊. He led the CA to contribute to Blessed Irene Fund Kity to about Kshs 600,000 plus. The money is meant to assist vulnerable students across the university .He is the force behind the beatification of Blessed Sister Irene Stefani Nyaatha and the construction of the Blessed Sister Irene Shrine in the Heroes Garden. He always wanted water around the shrine because he said “Water is a sign of life”. There are many things we talked about, though I can’t remember everything. May he Rest in Peace”
As we bid our farewells to the great icon to many here is a prayer from CA,
Prayer For Peaceful Rest of Rev.Fr.Prof Mathenge’s Soul
Oh God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, Donatus Mathenge, to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own Holy Name. We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy Holy Presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Lord. Amen
All said and done. We give our condolences to the friends and family and largely to the DeKUT family and we pray that our Rev.Fr.Mathenge be granted Eternal Rest in the Lord. Amen.
You fought the battle of life bravely, may your soul fly high and shine on in perpetual light Father…
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Messages from various denominational leaders in DeKUT:
1. Muhoro Mwangi, Current CA Chair
Rev Fr Mathenge; a priest and friend to many. To me, and I believe to many other DeKUT students, he was more than that. He was a light, illuminating our paths that we may never be lost in the campus hassle. He was a father who believed that if we don’t grow, then we aren’t alive. Serving the Chaplaincy under him, he challenged me to be a better version of myself, to scale to greater heights and to face challenges gladly. A priceless piece of advice he once gave me: “When faced with complex problems, the simplest solution is more often the most correct.” He will, through his words and actions of those he mentored, remain in our midst forever. I shall remember his love for charity, just like Blessed Sr Irene, whose life he lived and preached; “All for Jesus, Nothing for me” being a favorite mantra of his. I hope and pray that he finds rest in the presence of God’s Holy angels and Saints.
2. Passy Wanzala Okong’o, Current CU Chair
Rev. Fr. Prof Donatus was a distinguished philosophy professor and a father figure to the Kimathi University fraternity. His contribution to the university chaplaincy department also cannot go unnoticed. He was indeed a man diligent in his endeavors.
3. Omwami Calistus, Former CA Gents Chair
Rev Fr. Prof. Donatus was appointed by former Pope Benedict to lead the committee that researched and did the Beatification of Sr. Irene Stefani Nyaatha. Has been a vicar general and the brain behind Critical Thinking unit and Gown Lectures at DeKUT. He was a Dad to many, we loved him but God loved him more. Fare Thee Well Dad
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4. Veronica Muthoni, Current CA Vice Chair
I came to good interaction with Rev Fr Donatus when I was elected as a leader. From the first meeting the first thing I observed was his strictness to observation of protocols, which was non negotiable. I remember him saying “if they think they can do it without my permission, let them, who do they think they are aah.” He said referring to a group who had planned to attend a retreat without his knowledge.
I’ve also known him is a Catholic who is unapologetic for what he believes in. He was always asking us to be energetic.. he kept pointing to ladies who were active in the church but later got married to non Catholics.
With His beautiful sermons and open condemnation of evils I saw him as the Saint Paul of my time. Most of His sermons remain vivid especially those given during major feasts like ‘Christ the King’.
His many stories about alumni ladies who worked tirelessly for the church and in studies made me feel like he saw them in me … This built in me a desire for service , diligence and hard work…
He also taught me not to place my hand on the cheek 😁..
When it comes to accountability of money you could not negotiate and that was a great skill I learned ..
Indeed he was not just a chaplain but a Dad to me and many. We will miss his evening meeting especially when the stories became sweet till we forgot the agenda. Watch over us Dad from Heaven
5. Kimani, Former CA Chair
Rev Fr Prof Donatus Mathenge: a don of the Lord, staunch catholic at heart, the epitome of a catholic priest. I knew him in my first year back in 2016 September when we would go for mass at catholic hall (Bishop Kirima hostels) On each Sunday he offered the eternal sacrifice with much expertise and dexterity. He always taught of the virtues of integrity and accountability. Honesty was always what he preached. He encouraged us to reach out to those Catholics who were not coming to church – he had an ever-growing concern for those who were not on the right path and he always received them warmly, corrected and guided them. He was a real father. Fr Prof was charitable at heart for uncountable times he helped many who were in dire need. He also founded blessed Irene Stephanie bursary fund.
I served under him for one year as the DeKUTCC chairperson (Aug, 2018-Aug 2019) It was a period that was quite challenging as for much of this time father was hospitalized yet he never ceased to offer his sagacious support and advice. We would communicate via Whats App. Even while he was in India for medication, never did he forget the congregation that he shepherded. Even when his health failed his faith grew stronger day after day as he would often say “even if I died and was born again, I would still go knock the doors of the seminary and become a priest once more.” This world still needed a dose of your philosophy and homilies Prof forever in our hearts you will remain. May our Lord Jesus Christ receive him in the glory of the kingdom of heaven and may perpetual light shine upon him as he rests in peace Amen
Rev Prof Mathenge was like a father to a good number of DeKUT comrades. Feel free to share your experience with him, share a photo, quote something he said or relate a fond memory about him on the DeChat app for DeKUT comrades. Use the hashtag #RIPFather. Whatever you post on the app will be seen by close to 1000 DeKUT comrades. If you’re yet to download the app, click here to get it on Play Store.
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See past Influencers of the Week:
- Sabul The Bull, former DeKUTSO Sec Gen. Click here to read.
- Franklin Manyara, current DeKUTSO Sec Gen. Click here to read.
- Nancy Njeri, current Rotaract DeKUT President. Click here to read.
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