By Alva M. Wolokolie
Thousands of Liberians including Catholics from the 15 political sub-division of the country yesterday turned out in mass at various street corners and major streets to pay their last respect to the Most Rev. Archbishop Emeritus Michael K. Francis.
Rev. Michael Kpakala Francis who died on May on May 19, 2013, following a stroke in 2004, remains was removed from the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlors yesterday morning and taken to the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Broad Street. He was 77 on February 12, 2013.
A vigil funeral mass was held last night for the Archbishop at the Sacred Heart Cathedral with high profile individuals and officials of government in attendance. Members of the Noble Order Knights and Ladies of St. John International and the Knights of Marshall were in full control of the ceremony. Members of the Catholic Women Organization (CWO), Catholic Young Adult Association (CYAA), The St. Mary Catholic in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, The St. Joseph Catholic Hospital Staff, Missionaries Sisters and Brothers, Seminarians from the St. Paul Major Seminary including Priests and Bishops from the Diocese of Cape Palmas and Gbarnga.
The late Bishop Francis’ remains was under a heavy escort from the funeral home led by the Liberia National Police (LNP) patrol vehicles and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). Students from few Catholic Schools in Monrovia and the Students Unification Party SUP) from the University of Liberia were also in full gear during the parade of the Bishop’s body in Monrovia.
As his remains was being escorted to the Cathedral Parish, Liberians and onlookers on the walkway grieved but jubilantly bid farewell to a “Peace Activist” an advocate who spoke fearlessly against ills in society, justice and equality for his fellow compatriots.
Some described him as a true statesman who always wanted justice and freedom for the ordinary people. President Sirleaf has always called him the “conscience of the nation”.
A lady at the front view of the University of Liberia (UL) mournfully said, “I am deeply saddened because Michael Francis spoke the truth. He wanted to see this country transformed. He was a friend of the poor people. This man really wanted change but now God has taken him away,”
An elderly man only identified as Pa Jimmy said, “I feel sad at his passing because I had really had the hope that one day he would regain his speech once more and speak to the many ills permeating our society. This society of ours which has been taken over by attaches and self-interest need a voice like Michael Francis. Sadly, he left without saying good-bye. But most Liberians would like to hear him talk once more”.
The resurrection mass is expected to take place today, Saturday, June 1, 2013 at about 10:0 a.m., after which his remains will be interred immediately at the front yard of the Cathedral.