President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has signed the Book of Condolence for the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus, Michael Kpakala Francis, who passed away on Sunday, May 19, at the age of 77. He will be buried on Saturday, June 1.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the President signed the Book of Condolence at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Wednesday, May 22.
Upon her arrival at the Roberts International Airport, from official visits to the United States and Equatorial Guinea the day before, President Sirleaf described the loss of Archbishop Francis as “irreparable,” describing him as the “conscience of the nation.”
At the Airport, the Liberian leader said she received the news of Archbishop Francis’ death with a heavy heart and hopes Liberians remember him for his fearless advocacy against the ills in the society, especially during the country’s civil war.
President Sirleaf told journalists that she was always motivated by the Archbishop who she described as a “true statesman” who always wanted peace, justice and equality for his compatriots, irrespective of status. President Sirleaf mournfully said, “I am deeply saddened because I spent lots of time visiting Bishop Francis over these past years. As the nation mourns, we will not get somebody like Bishop Francis; but we thank God for the time he served the nation. That is why I have always called him the conscience of the nation.”
The late Archbishop Emeritus Francis was born on February 12, 1936 in Kakata, Margibi County, and was ordained Deacon and Priest on August 15, 1962, and August 4, 1963, respectively. Before then, he attended St. Martin’s Primary School in Gbarnga, Bong County, and St. Mary’s in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, from 1944 -1950.
Bishop Francis studied Moral Theology with emphasis in Bio-Ethics, Medical Ethics and Formation Psychology at the Catholic University of America; Bio-Ethics and Medical Ethics at Georgetown University; and Ecumenical Theology at the Howard University School of Religion.
He previously presided over the Archdiocese of Monrovia which includes Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Gbarpolu and Margibi Counties. He resigned as Archbishop in 2011, due to poor health, and was named Archbishop Emeritus up to his demise.
Announcing the funeral of the late Archbishop, the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia stated that the remains of the late Archbishop Emeritus will be removed from the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlors on Friday, May 31, and taken to the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Broad Street. Reception of the remains at the Cathedral will be at 12 noon. A vigil funeral mass is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the solemn Mass of the Resurrection will take place on Saturday, June 1, at 10 a.m. Internment follows immediately.