Bishop Francis Is Dead

By Morrison O.G. Sayon

Catholic Archbishop Emeritus, Michael Kpakala Francis has died at age 77. According to his caretaker, Mercy Blyden, the Archbishop Emeritus died yesterday at 10:00 A.M. at his residence in Sinkor following a protracted period of illness. His body is presently deposited at the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home in Sinkor, Monrovia pending funeral arrangements by the family and the Church.

Bishop Francis has been sick for over nine years after suffering from stroke. Prior to his protracted illness, Bishop Francis served as head of the Catholic Church in Liberia. He was considered the lone voice but powerful in the society as he spoke against societal ills in the Liberian society.

Bishop Francis will better be remembered for his outspokenness and challenging national authorities to doing the right things. His was noted for challenging the brutal regime of former President Charles Gankay Taylor whose administration is believed to be the most brutal regime in the nation’s history.

The family of the late Archbishop Francis has not come out with any arrangement but our reporter who spoke with some members of the Catholic Church said information relative to the death of the Archbishop Emeritus will be released today.

Meanwhile, thousands of Catholics and other Liberians as well as foreign nationals have begun mourning the home-going of Bishop Francis who was considered as one who could not sit without correcting the vices of society.

Many of the mourners, who converged at the home of the late Bishop, were seen weeping loudly yesterday but praising God for his life and service to mankind.

His caretaker, Madam Mercy Blyden said Bishop Francis was a true father whose only aim was to serve the Almightily God. She described him as a man who was dedicated to his calling and a man of peace who contributed significantly to the peace Liberians now enjoy.

In January of this year when The INQUIRER family visited him, the Managing Editor of the paper, Philip N. Wesseh described Archbishop Francis as a hero who worked for peace and tranquility in the country.

Mr. Wesseh said Bishop Francis was the lone voice in the society when no one could speak out on national issues or vices.

He was honored as ‘Man of the Year’ several times by The INQUIRER and other institutions for his uncompromising stance issues and being vocal on issues of national concerns. He will be missed by many Liberians for the role he played in the obtainment of peace in Liberia.

Archbishop Francis’ 77th birthday was celebrated last February by the Catholic Church at a colorful ceremony held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral which was attended by Muslims, Christians and people of other religions.

The late Archbishop was a lover of children and cared for humanity and was also instrumental in the attainment of peace in Liberia when he along with people from other religion operated together under the banner of the Inter-Faith Council of Liberia. The quest for the attainment of peace took the late Archbishop to several countries in the sub-region and beyond.