On Saturday, June 1, 2013, the remains of the fearless Catholic Cleric and Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Monrovia, Michael Kpakala Francis were laid to rest at the Catholic Compound following a well-attended funeral service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Monrovia.
The fearless man of God passed away on Sunday, May 19 at his residence in Sinkor, Monrovia. The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, according to church sources was severely hit by a stroke which also seized his speech and rendered in immobile nine years ago.
The well- respected Liberian Cleric took along to the great beyond an accountable volume of praises from pallbearers from diverse backgrounds during his funeral. Among those who paid homage to the Archbishop Emeritus Michael Kpakala Francis were the Liberian Government, the Liberia Council of Churches, the Catholic Church, civil society institutions, members of the diplomatic community in Liberia, family members, friends, relatives, the student community in Liberia, and a host of other sympathizers, etc.
The tribute-paying institutions and individuals described the fallen Liberian cleric in many positive ways based on how each person or organization saw him and, or interacted with him.
As one of the journalists who inaudibly covered the funeral, I found it difficult, at certain point to write my stories from the funeral because I had to choose among a number of positive adjectives that were used to tell the story of this brave, eloquent and seasoned Liberian cleric.
Some called him an advocate of social justice, peace and equality in Liberia. For others, the fallen Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia was an ambassador of peace, social justice, dedicated public servant, man of principles and at the same time a man who single-handedly challenged some of Liberia’s tyrannical regimes in the face of alarming danger or at the expense of his personal safety.
Yet, others called him the voice of the voiceless and champion of human rights, while President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf referred to him as the conscious of society.
The thousands who turned out on Friday, May 31 to be part of the parade conveying Archbishop Emeritus Francis’ remains from the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Parlors in Sinkor to the Sacred Heart Cathedral was an indication that his work and life touched the lives of many people regardless of any status in society.
I decided to write this article based on an argument that arose among several young mourners in front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday during the fallen Liberian cleric’s funeral. I found myself between the scissors because I wanted to do two things at the same time: trying to capture a few voices to hear from people relative to who the man Michael Kpakala Francis was to them, and at the same time get some clues from the ongoing argument to see whether such an apparently unrehearsed discussions could be translated into a positive news item for public consumption.
‘’ The Archbishop was a lover of peace so he did well to help Liberia get peace today.” Said one of the persons taking part in the argument.
‘’ I say the old man (Archbishop Francis) was a peace maker and not only a peace lover.” The other group observed.
Attracted by their growing argument, I decided to take my microphone to them so as to encourage them to draw a line between a peace lover and a peace maker. Unfortunately, the number of participants in the argument was increasing to the point that getting their cooperation was difficult. At the very moment, church bells started to toll in an incessant manner- an indication that the time had reached for the fearless Liberian cleric to be lowered in his final resting place.
Dr. Amos C. Sawyer’s Definitions of Being A Peace Lover And A Peace Maker
In 1991, I briefly covered the Executive Mansion when Dr. Amos C. Sawyer was serving as head of the defunct Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU). Most of the initial press briefings were held at the Ducor Palace Hotel-then seat of the Interim Government of National Unity.
During one of the press conferences, Dr. Sawyer spoke about the difference between those who love peace and those who make peace.
According to him, peace lovers are those who only want to see peace come so that they will enjoy it, while peace makers are those who take the risk to work for peace so that everybody will enjoy the peace.
Based on Dr. Amos Sawyer’s definition or the line he draws between the two sides, which, in my opinion makes sense, I wish to say that the fallen Archbishop Emeritus Michael K. Francis was not only a lover of peace in Liberia but equally a great peace maker due to the risk he took by working along with others to bring peace to Liberia.
I recall a powerful Pastoral Letter he once released to the media in Liberia under the caption: ”Get Away, You Are Not Freedom Fighters But A Bunch of Killers.”
I tried by all means ahead of this publication to get a copy of the local daily in which that Pastoral Letter was published but I did not succeed. I therefore remain available to anyone who can help to inform the public concerning the year in which the Pastoral Letter in question was released.
In my opinion, and based on Dr. Sawyer’s definition of a peace maker, no man who was a mere peace lover at the time would have written and publically read such a powerful document while people were passing with big guns all over our country.
I say so because during the period under review, the former warring factions to the Liberian conflict were very stubborn and unwilling to disarm, or observe any cease fire with sincerity. There were indiscriminate killings in many parts of Liberia, blatant human rights violations or abuses in various aspects, humanitarian calamity and wanton destruction. It took brave or fearless individuals like the late Archbishop Emeritus Michael K. Francis to publically condemn these so-called liberators.
The essence of this article is not to challenge the group of young men who were trying to say the fearless man of God was a lover of peace or peace maker. But to join others in saying hats up to him for all the good things he did while life was still in his favor.
I sincerely pray that our society will work in a way that will ensure that the ideas and principles for which he took the risk will always be upheld. I am not a prophet, but equally I am worried that the Archbishop’s bones may recoil in his grave in a disappointing manner if we fail to keep his dreams and aspirations alive for the betterment of our country-Liberia.
This is the same point I was trying to stress during the Monday, June 3, Edition of the Super Morning Show on ELBC when Dr. Sawyer was hosted by LBS Deputy Director General for Media Services, Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie. However, I was cut off shortly after laying a premise during the talk show either due to time factor or the line was cracking. But actually, the old man was not a mere peace lover but a great peace maker owing to the risk associated with his work at the time. Let me once more join other Liberians by saying farewell, Archbishop Francis, farewell, as he now fellowships with other prominent Liberians and our ancestors in the great beyond.
The author can be reached through 0886560455 or firstname.lastname@example.org
24 Mar 42 - Nimely joins MB Breweries on loan
23 Mar 42 - Fassell dump Oilers, LISCR escape Aries
12 Nov 18 - Yallah Dedicates US$42, 000 Elementary School
12 Nov 18 - Put Players' Interest First ...Says Lottery Boss