It is with regret that we inform you of the death on the 13th day of July, 2023 at 2.30 a.m. at Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 56 of
Father James Onyango Juma
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Fr. James was born on 16th September 1966 in Ukwala, Siaya District, Western Kenya, to his loving parents, the late Thomas Juma Musanya and Margaret Apondi Juma. He was baptised on 10th October 1966 in Eldoret and ten years later he received the Sacrament of Confirmation on 31st July 1976 at Sega, Archdiocese of Kisumu. He did his O-Level studies at Kisumu Day Secondary School where he received the Kenya Certificate of Education in 1984. He proceeded to A-Level at Kisumu High School where he obtained the Kenya Advance Certificate of Education in 1986. He took up BA Philosophy at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy in Nairobi and completed it in July 1990. James was one of the pioneering students from the ‘global south’ to be formed as a Mill Hill Missionary at St. Joseph’s College. He arrived in Mill Hill in 1992 to begin his Theological studies and to continue his missionary formation. On 10th February 1996, he took the Perpetual Oath at St. Joseph’s College Chapel in Mill Hill. He was ordained missionary priest on 1st August 1996 in Kisumu by Archbishop Zacheus Okoth.
Appointed to Cameroon in 1996, James went to the Diocese of Ngaoundere after following a short French language course in Belgium. He was stationed in Tibati mission. Two years later, he was recalled from Cameroon and temporarily appointed to East Africa, where he took up the responsibility of managing the St. Joseph’s Mission Hospital in Kilgoris. His service at this institution was greatly appreciated particularly for streamlining what was a previously a corrupt system. On 1st January 2002, he received an appointment to Kroonstad Diocese, South Africa where he became the parish priest of Parys. In 2007, he was appointed Society Representative in South Africa. After almost 10 years in Kroonstad Diocese, James took up a new missionary endeavour in Rustenburg Diocese.
During his time there, he immersed himself in the study of psychology and counselling while providing pastoral care to the Christian communities of Pokeng Parish. His dedication led him to obtain a Doctorate in Psychology on 11th May 2018, and he became a registered counsellor at the HPCSA, further enhancing his ability to support and heal others. He was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Rustenburg, a role he played so well that the now Emeritus Bishop Kevin Dowling expressed his esteemed appreciation of the leadership skills, wisdom and insights of James and the unwavering support he received from him. In 2021, he was appointed Society Representative in South Africa, a role he fulfilled until he breathed his last, a testament to his leadership and dedication. In 2022, James left Rustenburg Diocese and accepted the invitation of Rt. Rev. Xolelo Thaddeus Kumalo to work in Witbank Diocese. On 13th February 2023, the General Council regularised James’ move to Witbank Diocese on his own choosing as a loan priest for a period of three years.
In 2018, James own health became a battle as he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Despite undergoing a major operation, where the cancerous right lobe of his liver was surgically removed, James displayed incredible strength and resilience. On 5th July 2023, James went for a medical procedure at Donald Gordon Hospital which according to him went on well. Less than a week later, on 11th July 2023, he went back to the hospital and he was admitted to the intensive care unit due to internal bleeding. Bishop Kumalo visited him and gave him the Sacrament of Communion. At 11 a.m. on 12th July 2023, James went through gastroscopy to investigate the area of bleeding. By mid-night, James received blood transfusions and got blood plasma. Unfortunately, he passed away at 2:30 in the morning of 13th July 2023 at the age of 56.
Fr. James Juma’s remarkable journey as a priest, counsellor, and Vicar General in the diocese of Rustenburg has touched countless lives. His strength, wisdom, and unwavering faith in the face of adversity will continue to inspire and guide those who were fortunate enough to have known him. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and the communities he served throughout his life. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
The funeral details will be communicated later.