By ‘Yemi Adurotoye
The Catholic faithful of Ilorin Diocese woke up January 1, 2022 to the grieving news of the demise of Most Rev. Paul Adegboyega Olawoore. What an horrific happenstance to usher in the New Year.
Unknown to many, as 2021 was ebbing away on December 31, 2021, the prelate that was being expected at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Ilorin for the Cross-Over Mass and Praise Worship was being rushed to the hospital. He had taken ill on the eve of the new year, he made it to the new year but he didn’t survive the gruesome brief illness. He had his final breath at the age of 60 years.
Death snatched away our Dear Bishop. Aghast! Mouths were wide open in surprise. Many are still in shock as I write. It’s painful indeed!
He was part of various activities and programmes, from spiritual to social all through the Christmas season. I could easily recall his appearance at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Okerimi Oro on Christmas Day. He was no doubt looking radiant. He enjoined the people to get prepared and tighten up belt for the elevation of their son, Reverend James Omoniyi, into priesthood. Omoniyi had earlier been ordained a deacon on December 18, 2021.
I could recall a close encounter with him, when he inaugurated the implementation committee of a new radio programme, Faith-in-Action, right in his office (I’m privileged to be a member). It is to be the third radio programme Ilorin Catholic Diocese would be sponsoring under his episcopacy.
He was undoubtedly pragmatic and futuristic. He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop to Most Rev. Dr. Ayo-Maria Atoyebi OP in 2018. Since, he took canonical possession of the diocese on July 12, 2019, he did not rest on his oars until death came calling. He developed a well thought out pastoral strategies for evangelization in the diocese giving prime place to use of communication media. Under him, the diocese was on a steady growth, spiritually and in physical infrastructure. The diocese had more parishes created; got all clinics and hospital revamped, and established St. Brendan College of Health Technology, a higher institution located in Bacita, Edu Local Government Area, Kwara State.
He did not only played his role as a religious leader, but also dedicated himself to the protection of the weak and the fight for justice, and never shirked away from doing what is right. He distinguished himself as a man of true faith in God, a role model servant leader and an iconic bastion of peace.
A great leader is lost. For through his love and selfless service, he became a father figure to many, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. He was a true servant of God who loved all people and served the body of Christ in the state with great zeal and humility.
He was elected Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State chapter. He used the position to champion the promotion of peace, love and interreligious cooperation as well as tolerance among people of diverse backgrounds.
In his condolence message, Prince Sunday Adeniran Fagbemi, State Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Kwara State, described him as a great leader of Christians in Kwara State and an ebullient ambassador of the Catholic Church.
“And as we mourn Most Reverend Paul Olawoore’s death, let us be grateful that he lived his life well in the Lord, and that he has left an indelible mark in the lives of all those who had the privilege of knowing him,” Adeniran said.
Now, we mourn! His episcopacy was cut short abruptly. Ilorin diocese never experienced such (death of her bishop in office). Death, where is thy sting? For we cherished the fact that he served faithfully in the Lord’s vineyard.
We are all mere mortals. We are sad. Bereaved! But God is supreme.
Adieu, Dear Bishop Olawoore
Good Night! Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.
Adurotoye is the President, Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN), Ilorin Diocese