Today in Lusaka, we say farewell to Bishop emeritus of Mongu Diocese Paul Francis Duffy, OMI.
Today, we acknowledge and raise our caps and bow to a great man of God, a great shepherd and for that matter, not only of the Church, but all citizens of the Republic of Zambia.
Today, we say goodbye to a champion of human rights and an Advocate of Justice and Peace.
Today, we say goodbye to an Advocate who believed there can never be Justice and Peace anywhere when there is poverty, stifling of human rights and freedom of expression as well as under development.
Today, we say goodbye to the one who did not only speak for the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless, the downtrodden, the disabled, the afflicted with illness, the refugees. But rather, he lived with them, he ate with them, he cried with them, he prayed with them and above all he gave them a voice and he gave them Hope!
Yesterday Bishop Duffy spoke of Justice, today with multitudes gathered here at the Cathedral, we have come to witness to his life Justice and tomorrow though he may be gone, even in death we shall forever remember his zeal for social justice.
All this he did and became because of one common factor and denominator: ‘that all people, regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, political affiliation or culture are created in the image and likeness of God’ and are therefore, equal in distributive justice.
He loved Zambia and Zambians, particularly the people (His people) in Western Province, where he was in charge of 88,000 square kilometers of the Western Province. Believe you me in more than 25 years, Bishop Duffy, completed and visited almost every single outstation and his people in this vast diocese.
He loved his God so much that he embarked to show us 27 years ago when he landed on Zambian Soil on the 6th of January, 1984 on the Feast of the Epiphany. How symbolic to arrive on the Feast on which as the Catholic Church we believe God’s Son (Jesus Christ) was made manifest to the whole human race regardless of their race, creed, color, religious beliefs, political affiliation or culture.
From the onset, Bishop Duffy did not want to serve anywhere except the Western Province where his voice and height would resound and tower above to challenge both religious and political leaders to uphold truth and justice on behalf of the marginalized.
Maybe not all of us were comfortable with his honesty, truth and razor sharp forthrightness because he raised our consciousness beyond mediocrity and challenged us to stand up for what is right; to stand up for the marginalized and the voiceless.
History and posterity will judge us harshly in Zambia, Africa and indeed world over if the voice of Bishop Duffy will go into silence and never to be heard again. God forbid that should ever happen. The onus is on all of us to imitate such a great shepherd.
All of us, Church Leaders, Citizens and Political players should carry on the banner of truth and proclaim that Hope, Hope for people that bishop Duffy lived for and was willing to die for.
He has walked this earth and has left his footmarks and “size 13”footprints in Western Province, in Zambia as a whole , in East Africa as AMECEA representative for Justice and Peace and delegate on the Board of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) whose headquarters are in Ghana.
Bishop Duffy was a very courageous and fearless individual. He spoke what was on his mind and said it the way he saw it. Because of his courage and fearlessness allow me to leave you with two great quotes from two great men; former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and President Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd United States President from 1933-1945).
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
While President Roosevelt said:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
This was Bishop Duffy’s favorite quote every time we traveled back and forth from Mongu to Lusaka.
We say well done courageous and fearless Shepherd. Well done good and faithful servant. Well done the tower of Western Province.
At this point allow me to express my sincerely gratitude on behalf of the organizing committees: from The Zambia Episcopal Conference, The Missionary Oblates, The Archdiocese of Lusaka and the Diocese of Mongu.
• Firstly we are grateful to the Missionary Oblates and Bishop Duffy’s family in Norwood Massachusetts in the USA for allowing Bishop Duffy’s body to return home to Zambia upon our request.
• The Nuncio, members of ZEC (who are bishops), The Cathedral Parish.
• The government and Cabinet Office
• Lusaka International Airport Authorities and various personnel at the airport
• Ambassador St. Ann, Zambia Export Growers Association (ZEGA)
• The Zambia Police Service
• Members of the Press
• Major Superiors
• The Clergy and Religious
• The faithful both from Lusaka and Mongu and other dioceses
• The nation at large
• Many other people who have organized and given of their time from flowers, transport, choirs. You know your contribution.
Again on behalf of the organizing committee we thank all of you most sincerely. May God bless you All.
And May the Soul of our beloved Bishop Paul Francis Duffy, OMI, rest in Eternal Peace. Amen!