If the late Catholic Archbishop, Michael Kpakala Francis were alive today he would have been very vocal against the ills in society, because he was fearless in speaking the truth to the powers that be, and he was a veteran women rights advocate, Mother Mary Brownell has said.
Serving as one of the two panelists at a memorial ceremony of eight distinguished Liberian religious advocates in Monrovia, Mother Brownell noted that the unwavering commitment and advocacy of Archbishop Francis and others were in no small way responsible for the peace and stability now being enjoyed in the country. “During that period, no one thought of making Liberia a Christian nation. Christian and Muslims worked collaboratively praying, fasting and humbling begging our creator to heal our land,” she said.
“Bishop Francis was very vocal in expressing his opposition to the ills in the society. He didn’t care who would be offended. He spoke his mind regardless of the consequences,” she said.
“Working closely with some of the past religious leaders who are remembered today, bring back sad memories,” Mother Brownell recalled, “personalities like the late Bishop Michael Kpakala Francis, Bishop William Nah Dixon and Shiekh Kafumba Konneh and others.”
She noted that the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, of which she was an influential part along with these leaders, met regularly at the Catholic Secretariat to work out plans and strategies on how to bring peace to our troubled country by meeting with the various stakeholders in the crisis.
These groups of advocates, she indicated, were indeed their brothers’ keepers, unlike the current dispensation when everyone seems to be on their own without backing from their colleagues.
She said that the occasion provided the right forum for her to express what keeps pricking her conscience, indicating that over the years she has observed that religious leaders are partly responsible for some of the wrongs in the Liberian state because they are silent on unbecoming happenings.
“Some may argue that the Church and Mosque are different from the state and so the Pastors’ and Imams’ work is to preach and interpret the words of God,” Mother Brownell said, adding that it is the duty of religious institutions to guide, correct, instruct, advise and monitor “our movements and behaviors. We hear of rape, sodomy, bribery, fornication, adultery corruption etc., in all aspects of our society; committed from our homes to the Churches and Mosques. Who are committing these unwholesome behaviors? Are they not our members? What are religious leaders doing about these disgraceful behaviors?”
She noted that she may not be asking the preachers in the churches and the mosques to condemn and disgrace such people, but to counsel them and point out their disgrace to the country.
In a tribute, the Secretary General of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, Sheikh Musa Bamba, said the honorees were people who stood for the right causes and were yearning for good governance in the country.
“Things that these men spoke against are still happening in our society and it is a shame that these are still happening. Corruption is still rampant in the country. Violence against women, especially raping of children, is on the increase. We must stop these things as a people to progress as a nation,” the Sheikh said.
Also speaking of Archbishop Francis, Panelist Kenneth Best said the eminent Catholic often spoke against the widespread mismanagement and wickedness of the Samuel Doe regime and warned that God would not permit this to continue.
“Doe was so angry with the Archbishop that the Head of State launched an arson attack on the Catholic Radio Station near the Catholic Mission on Ashmun Street, Snapper Hill. That paralyzed the station for over a year,” he said.
And when two of Doe’s closest associates, Postal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly and Liberian Broadcasting System Managing Director Alhaji Kromah, who had both been educated at the Roman Catholic’s St. Patrick’s High School failed to intervene, saying their parents had “paid their school fees at St.
Patrick’s,” Archbishop Francis closed the school and turned its Capitol Hill premises over to the Roman Catholic-run Stella Maris.
What these two young fellows did not realize, Mr. Best said, the quality education “we all received from Catholic schools, has always been and continues to be heavily subsidized.”
Vice President Joseph Boakai, in a brief statement, said the ceremony was resourceful in that the participants had learned a lot from the panelists. He said Liberia needs more of the memorialized advocates if it is to become a better nation. “Liberia cherishes all of these people. And there are more of these here among you our current religious leaders,” the VP said. The Second Lady of the Republic, Katumu Boakai, also graced the ceremony. The Muslim Community graced the occasion in their numbers. Present also was Chief Imam, Alieu Krayee.
Meanwhile, those memorialized included Bishop Stephen Trowen Nagbe, Rev. Mother Wilhelmina Dukuly, Rev. George Daniel Browne, Rev. Dr. Roland Jigi Payne, Archbishop Francis, Rev. Walter D. Richards, Rev. Dr. William Nah Dixon, and Sheikh Kafumba Konneh.