"Get Involved in your Destiny!" Archbishop’s Statement Re-echoed

By Musue N. Haddad


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 31, 2004

Archbishop Michael K. Francis
"Liberians in the Diaspora and at home should reflect on Archbishop Michael Francis’ counsel and become actively involved in their destiny," Father Gabriel Jubwe said over the weekend.

Father Jubwe said Archbishop Francis has been actively engaged not only religiously but also politically, speaking on human rights situation in Liberia and urging Liberians to become involved in issues affecting their lives.

"Archbishop was very outspoken on the Church’s position on injustices, evil among other vices. He consistently urged Liberians to speak out and become involved in issues affecting them." Fr. Jubwe said during an interview at the Healing mass for Archbishop Francis.

He said the church is continuing its work in ensuring morality, peace and justice in Liberia.

Fr. Jubwe was among several Clerics of the Catholic Church both from Liberia and the United States who celebrated the Healing Mass and Fund Drive held for Liberia’s Archbishop and Human Rights Laureate, Michael Kpalaka Francis. The mass was held over the weekend at the St. Gabriel’s Parish in Washington, DC.

Archbishop Francis suffered a stroke last year rendering him paralyzed: speechless and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.

Father Robert Tikpor in his homily said as head of the Catholic Church of Liberia, Archbishop Francis was very committed in carrying out the duties and responsibilities outlined to him by the Pope. These duties and responsibilities included being overseer of souls, warning perpetrators of crimes and also evil doers of their deeds as well as engaging in developmental programs.

"Stop your evil deeds for God is watching," Archbishop warned without fear or favor Father Tikpor told the worshippers.

Father Tikpor used the anecdote of a humble Farm Hand and a Stubborn Bull during his homily. He associated Archbishop Francis to the Farm Hand who had tried every gentle and persuasive means to lead one of his Bulls in the stall but to no avail. The Bull, known as the Stubborn Bull resisted all gentleness and force, leaving the Farm Hand not only exhausted but also baffled. After realizing that the Stubborn Bull which Father Tikpor likened to President Taylor, would pressed backward (opposite direction), when pushed to move ahead, the Farm Hand decided and began to pulled and pulled the Stubborn Bull. And the Stubborn Bull resisted as usual again and again moving forward to where the farm hand wanted it – into the stall.

Fr. Tikpor said in the same way, Archbishop Francis preached against evils carried out by President Taylor and his cohorts using religious, moral and political persuasions and influence without success.

He said, the Archbishop used his last strength to "pull and pull" the stubborn Bull – President Taylor away from Liberia into exile.

Not long after the forcible exile of Charles Taylor, Archbishop Francis suffered a stroke and had to be flown to the United States for treatment and is presently undergoing therapy in a nursing home.

Archbishop Francis was brought to the mass in a wheel chair. He was given communion and later taken away.

Many attending the mass were saddened to see the once outspoken Archbishop speechless; the swift walking man dependent on a wheel chair and the once energetic preacher and human rights advocate now stagnant.

Several awards were presented to organizations and personalities for their devoted services to the Catholic Church and Archbishop Francis since he took ill. Among those recognized were the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation and Mrs. Robert Kennedy, wife of the late U.S Senator and Human Rights activist in whose name the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation was established. Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods received the awards on behalf of Mrs. Kennedy and the Kennedy Foundation. Fr. Ted Hayden, SMA, who served in Liberia throughout the sixties and has remained very active with programs for and on Liberia and Fr. Thomas Delaney who has become a caretaker of the ailing Archbishop also received awards for their services and commitment.

A statement from Archbishop Michael Francis acceptance speech for the Robert F. Kennedy’s Human Rights award in November 1999: "The World should never keep silent when evil has been perpetuated around the globe; we members of the human race, and we have a co-responsibility to see that our sisters and brothers, wherever they are, be respected and live a humane and human life," signifies the depth of his principles and belief in justice and peace.