CUEA was founded on 3 September in 1984 in Nairobi Kenya as a Graduate School of Theology, under the name the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa (CHIEA). The Institute was founded by the regional ecclesiastical authority known as Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA). The member countries of AMECEA are: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.Initially, CHIEA offered two-year Licentiate/MA programmes in Theology, as authorized by the Congregation for Catholic Education, Vatican City (cf. Prot. N. 821/80/34), effective 2 May 1984. On 3 September of the same year, it was officially inaugurated by the Right Reverend Bishop Medardo Mazombwe, the then Chairman of AMECEA. On 18 August 1985, it was formally opened by Pope John Paul II. In 1986, the Graduate School of Theology started negotiations with the Commission for Higher Education in Kenya to establish the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).