General News

Large Crowd at Funeral Mass for Late Kwara CAN Chairman, Bishop Olawoore

Bishop Paul Olawoore

No fewer than 16 bishops, 176 priests, hundreds of men and women religious and mammoth crowd of Christian faithful gathered at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, Taiwo Road, Ilorin weekend to celebrate the funeral mass for the late Bishop of Ilorin Diocese, Most Rev. Paul Adegboyega Olawoore.

The late bishop was until death came calling was the Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin and Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State chapter.

The funeral mass concluded the 3-day burial rites for the late bishop.

The bishops, which included archbishops, bishops and emeritus bishops, were co-celebrants of the mass, while Archbishop Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin of Ibadan Archdiocese was chief celebrant. The priests and religious were from different parts of Nigeria.

The funeral mass was also well attended by Kwara State government officials led by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Kayode Alabi. Knights of St. John International, Knights of St. Mulumba, various lay organisations and groups in the Catholic Church from Ilorin and Oyo dioceses as well as the family relations of Bishop Olawoore were in attendance.

The homilist at the mass, Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, admonished Christians to strive intently and passionately for holiness by following the path of Jesus Christ and not to fear death because it is not the terminal end for them but a mere transformation from mortality to immortality.

Bishop Ajakaye’s words corroborated that of Bishop Francis Obafemi Adesina of Ijebu Ode Diocese expressed during the first vigil mass, who said death is not the final state for people who have abiding faith in God but transition of ‘being.’

Bishop Ajakaye, in his homily themed “Life and Death (Metamorphosis),” identified death as part of the mysterious cycle of life, pointing out that “it is the mystery of the grain of wheat, which falls to the earth and dies in order to produce an abundance of new life, new creation, which transcends itself in both quality and quantity.”

The prelate made copious reference to transfiguration of Jesus as recorded in gospel of Mark 9:2 and stated: “on the mountain, Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, was ‘metamorphosed’ – transformed. For a brief moment the disciples saw Jesus as he would be in the resurrection.”

He said life of every human being is patterned after Jesus, hence death is inevitable.

“All of us will have to face death but in faith, we know that death is a metamorphosis, and it will result in a glorious life with Christ.”

Bishop Ajakaye enjoined Christians to make Christ the centre of their lives and live upright life, noting that “we are all sojourners here on earth” and that everyone will give account of himself or herself to God.

Speaking on the passage of Bishop Olawoore, whose episcopacy was just three and half years (out which he was coadjutor bishop for one year), he said many might say he died premature death, he reminded such people that life is not about how long but how well.

He, therefore, warned the faithful to desist from sin by way of raising unnecessary and ungodly questions because God cannot be queried on the existence of His creatures.

The bishop added that the Book of Prophet Isaiah 55:8 clearly gives God’s message on it: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” He added that “God does His own things in His own ways. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End.”

He enjoined the catholic faithful of Ilorin Diocese and the entire Christians in Kwara State to mourn with moderation, so that it would not be “like those who do not have hope in God and Christ’s Resurrection.” He then implored all to meditate on Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38: 16 – 23 and pray for the soul of late Bishop Olawoore for God’s grace and mercy.

At the mass, tributes were rendered on behalf of the President, Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze by the Vice President, Most Rev Lucius Ugorji accompanied by the Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi; Ilorin Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev. Fr. Anselm Pendo Lawani presented on behalf of the diocese, while the Chancellor, Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Iletogbe gave the vote of thanks.

Earlier before the funeral mass on Friday, vigil masses were celebrated in which the chief celebrants were Most Rev. John Oyejola, Very Rev Fr. Anselm Pendo Lawani, Rev. Fr. Peter Olabamiji, Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Olabode, Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele respectively after every 3 hours, starting from 6pm Thursday. The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) led by the Acting Chairman, Bishop Sunday T. G. Adewole organised service of songs cum night of tributes in memory of the late bishop on Wednesday.

At the 6pm mass on Thursday, Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina was the homilist. He emphasized that the soul of the just is in the hands of God and therefore Christian’s mourning should be an expression of genial love, not grieving like people without faith, like people without hope in resurrection of the dead.

He also warned that questions that would make one lose the sight of the message God wants to pass to us should not be asked, noting that “why? questions” is not for Christians but “what? questions” show that one knows that God is in charge.

He thanked God for the grace given to Bishop Olawoore to make exploits in the Lord’s vineyard with spiritual, pastoral and structural development efforts which he made with guided decision and godly sense in his prophetic and priestly ministry.

He said, Bishop Olawoore worked in line with his motto: “Thy Will be Done, Oh Lord” and he had fought the good fight of faith, praying God to have mercy on him and welcome him into His Presence, so that angels in heaven can sing the song: “Bo sinu ayo re, eni rere bo sinu ayo re…”

Bishop Hilary Nanman Dachelem CMF performed the rites of reception of the body at the cathedral entrance, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins performed the rites of final commendation, while Bishop Ernest Anaezichukwu prayed at the graveside.

Edited by Felix Ajide