The funeral of the late Archbishop Emeritus of Monrovia, Most Rev Michael Francis, took place in Monrovia, Liberia on Saturday, 1 June. The Archbishop, who died peacefully in his sleep on Pentecost Sunday morning, was 77 years of age. Fr Tom Ryan, Vice Provincial of the British Province and who worked in Liberia for some years attended. The Irish Province was represented by Fr Lee Cahill who worked in Liberia for many years and served as SMA Regional Superior in the country during part of the Civil War.
Archbishop Michael Francis was born on 12 February 1936 in Kakata, Liberia. His early education was undertaken with the FMM Sisters there and, later, with the SMA missionaries in Sanniquellie. After studies for the priesthood he was ordained a priest for the then Vicariate Apostolic of Monrovia on 4 August 1963. He was to succeed the bishop who ordained him, Rt Rev Francis Carroll SMA (who was also the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Liberia) on 28 October 1976. Five years later, 19 December 1981, Monrovia was raised to the status of an Archdiocese with Archbishop Michael Francis as its first Pastor.
From then until 2004, when he suffered a serious Stroke which left him seriously incapacitated and unable to discharge his duties as Archbishop, he built up a vibrant Church in Liberia and was an internationally recognised, and honoured, voice for the protection of human rights, particularly in Liberia which was enduring a long and vicious civil war. Despite the many threats to his life, Archbishop Francis never wavered in speaking the truth and demanding accountability from those responsible for so many attrocities against the Liberian people.
Reacting to the news of the death of his predecessor, the present Archbishop, Most Reverend Lewis Zeigler, said that Archbishop Francis stood for justice because he strongly believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“My reaction is that of sadness, and then coupled with that, I would like to give thanks to God for his many blessings. Nine years have gone by and he has been suffering. While I grieve, I also thank God that He has called him to go home and rest. He was a firm believer in the Gospel of Christ and, because of his faith, he stood for justice.”
Read more about Archbishop Francis and his ministry here.
It was fitting that a man who was so full of God’s Spirit and preached fearlessly should die on the Feast of the Holy Spirit. May he now enjoy eternal life with the Lord.