By Kuha INDYER CSSp:
People from all walks of life across the nation descended on the town of Katsina-Ala in Benue State like locusts from Tuesday, the 10th of March to Wednesday, the 11th of March, 2020, to bid goodbye to the first Catholic Bishop of Katsina-Ala Diocese, Most Rev. Peter Iorzuul ADOBOH.
The mortal remains of the late Bishop were driven from St. Anthony Hospital Zaki-Biam to the St. Gerald Majella Cathedral, Katsina-Ala around 5:30 pm on the 10th of March and laid in state for the whole night. There was evening Mass to commence the wake keep around 6:30pm. The homilist at the Mass was the Archbishop-Elect of Jos, Most Rev. Matthew Ishaya AUDU who preached on the theme: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’.
Archbishop-Elect Audu said the death of Bishop ADOBOH is a profound loss not only to his biological family but to all. He Illustrated the level of pain of loss being expereinced by those who knew ADOBOH with a story.
According to the Archbishop for many years a Pastor comforted mourners at funerals with the words ‘Do not cry, he has gone to the Lord’. When the pastor’s wife died, he was crying. The people went to console him and when they noticed that he was crying they asked him where his wife had gone that he was crying. In response the pastor said: ‘This death has passed any other death, let me cry.’ Archbishop-Elect Audu said the death of Bishop ADOBOH had passed any other death, but in reality no death passes any other death.
‘Let us be consoled with the Mass. When death strikes we understand that there is no lasting earthly city here. Death can be shattering if not understood according to our Christian faith. We need to fall back on our Christian resources. Jesus died and rose again so God will bring to him all those who have fallen asleep in him’. The Archbishop reminded the congregation of what Christ said concerning those who believe in him and everlasring life: ‘I am the resurrection and the life , whoever believes in me will live’. He further said Bishop ADOBOH was a frequent recipient of the body of Christ and Christ has promised that ‘Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood, I will raise him up on the last day.’ Archbishop Audu continued ‘Bishop ADOBOH was a handsome man. He had a gift of laughter amidst many others. He could get angry but I never saw him fightjng with any one since we knew at the seminary in 1978. No wonder he was apponted a Bishop when he became sick two years after his appointment. At the Hospital Bed he was a spiritual direcror to himself. When you visited him and felt bad knowing that he would die he would ask you what you were doing. Before he died he called people and blessed them. He accepted death – He never got angry at the knowledge that he would die as some people would be when they know that their end is coming and then blame everyone including God.’
‘Death reminds us that one day we shall die.
We need to prepare. Be of clean hands so that you will receive blessings, walk righteously and speak uprightly,’ said Archbishop Audu.
After the 6:30pm Mass, the following dioceses took turns in saying Masses for the repose of the soul of Bishop ADOBOH: Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo Lafia and Katsina-Ala. Tiv choir provided music throughout the Wake keep. The viewing of the mortal remains was done from 1am to 4:00am.
On the second day after morning prayers the body of Bishop ADOBOH was conveyed to the Emmanuel Akume Atongo Stadium where thousands of mourners had congregated for the Requiem Mass.
In his address to welcome all, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel ORTOM, assured all of security throughout the period. He said Bishop Adoboh will be remembered for the role he played in 2016 to provide amnesty to the bad boys who were causing untold hardshiips for the people. The Governor also submitted before the mourners ‘The truth is that we have failed’ and called on the Church to continue praying for and challenging the state to do what is right.
During the homily at the Mass, John Cardinal Onayeikan reflected on the theme:
‘The souls of the just are in the hands of God, no evil shall touch them.’
‘We never expected BishopAdoboh to leave us soon according to human calculation. But God has it differently. He had fought the fight and what is left for him now is the reward from God. God’s time is the best. It is not advisable to advice God. Bishop Peter ADOBOH was fully prepared. He had a special grace to see death coming. He had terminal illness that prepared him. He loved life but was not afraid to die. What he hoped for was better than what he was living here’.
The Cardinal prayed that God might grant heavenly reward to those who looked after the Bishop during his time of illness. He said the Bishop would be buried but his memories would remain. John Cardinal Onayeikan revealed that Bishop ADOBOH had deep faith and spirituality. He was unassuming. He was hardworking as a spiritual director at the St. Thomas Acquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi.
‘We hear that there are some mad priests who aspire to become bishops. He never looked for one, and when he accepted to become one seven years ago, he accepted it as a Cross, not as a position of privilege to enjoy. He faced the challenges of being a new Bishop. He faced the burden of poor health and heavy insecurity laden in his jurisdiction. His health could not allow him to do the best he could. He handed over to an efficient team. May God bless the team. He allowed Bishop William Avenya to help him.
‘There was a murderers influx of killers that caused pain on the whole diocese. He worked for peace, sought peace and reconciliation. The inability to brig peace aggravated his health situation. May his efforts touch the perpetrators of violence so that they will change.
‘He left unfinished business that must not be abandoned. Avenya will hold forth until a successor is got who will come and continue.
‘Weep but weep as those who have faith. Let us congratulate him for the battle he fought and won’, the Cardinal concluded.
Most Rev Dr. Augustine Akabueze, the President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria expressed the sentiments of condolences on behalf of the Catholic Bishops. He said ‘Bishop Adoboh will rise again on the resurrection morning. His memories will never be forgotten by the bishops. We are created to live for ever with God. God will not abandon him. He was a man of peace. We shall miss his presence and contributions. He will intercede for peace and for the conversion of those who take the lives of others. As long as we live we shall never forget you. One day we shall meet to part no more.’
Archbishop Akabueze thanked all those who supported the Bishop – priests and religious and the laity.
Priests and pastors from different religious denominations including the Anglican Communion and NKST were visibly present at the Requiem Mass. Rt Rev. Nathan Nyom, Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Anglican Communion, led a group of Anglican bishops that attended the funeral. Twenty Six Catholic Bishops were in attendance.
Pictures. Credit: Kuha INDYER CSSp