IT has been a year since retired Mongu Diocese Bishop Paul Duffy died at the Oblates of Mary Immaculate OMI retirement home in San Antonio, Texas, and those that were close to him have been consistently observing the movements in the hour glass.
August 25 every year will probably remain etched in the minds of the people of Western Province and in particular Mongu Diocese and indeed on this day which fell last Saturday this year.
They converged at the Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, which is Bishop Duffy's final resting place, to unveil a tombstone 12 months on.
Bishop Duffy's successor, Bishop Evans Chinyemba, led several people; not just Catholics but also some from other church denominations, to conduct a remembrance mass for the late prelate who spent 27 years working in the Western Province.
The event was characterised by dance, song and for a moment those that Bishop Duffy used to interact with on a daily basis were able to partake in the proceedings unlike what transpired at the actual burial last year.
It was evident from the many clicks from the phone, digital and tab cameras that the diverse crowd wanted a piece of Bishop Duffy.
Bishop Duffy's death took place in the midst of the election campaign that subsequently saw the PF take over the reins of power from the MMD.
Bishop Chinyemba said in his homily on the day that memories were for people to remember where they have been, who has been there, what has been and how it has been.
"In this context our memories today are focused on Bishop Emeritus Paul Duffy, OMI and the agreement he made in his life with God. The major part of our memorial is also to focus on the promise of God, the promise of everlasting life, a life given to those who in their lives have encountered Christ and have held on to him up to the moment of
their death," Bishop Chinyemba says. "We meet today to remember the late Bishop Emeritus of Mongu Diocese. It is slightly over a year since he died and buried here in Mongu. At death the voice was heard and still even today as we gather, the voice is heard."
Bishop Chinyemba says those who trust in God shall understand truth and the faithful shall abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are with the holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
"We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him," Bishop Chinyemba quoted from the book of Wisdom. "At baptism, Paul Francis Duffy was raised to life with Christ, in his life he lived with a sense of commitment to that life he received as baptism, at death too, our sure belief is that God will continue being present to him and share with him the life of those who in their lives have been faithful."
Bishop Chinyemba says the blessedness of God is found in those who have understood the way of life proposed to them by Christ.
"The gospel passage that has been proclaimed this morning, celebrates such blessedness and locates it in the spiritual and social needs of the people. There is nothing blessed by being poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty. This blessedness comes about because God will continue extending God's faithful care to such a people," Bishop Chinyemba says. "Even when the powers of this world abandon those who are poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, God will demonstrate God's care. Jesus in this passage offers a new way of looking at issues affecting people, especially in the community."
Bishop Chinyemba says remembering Bishop Duffy was to turn to the blessed manner he comprehended and lived his calling.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness and blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you...rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven," Bishop Chinyemba said. "Was Paul Duffy, OMI not a victim of persecution of those in power who cared less of the cries of the people? Was Paul Duffy, OMI, not persecuted by some section of the media that was supposed to carry the agenda of the suffering people of Western Province? Today, we are consoled with the words of Matthew, 'blessed are the peacemakers'. Peace is a value that we learn from God after the perfect example of Jesus Christ."
Bishop Chinyemba says these 'Christian' values have at times been absent in the Zambian society and the corridors of power.
"As we remember Bishop Emeritus Paul Francis Duffy, OMI let us learn from his life. As a Christian, he learnt to be obedient even to the point of listening to the lowest person you could think of in society," Bishop Chinyemba says. "He was humble in his life. He was faithful to calling as a Christian...He served with simplicity. He loved his calling of being a missionary and that made him live in Zambia for 27 years. He was tough on himself."
As the crowd of the faithful gathered outside the Cathedral ground to witness the unveiling of the tombstone by Bishop Chinyemba, it was evident that memories of the late prelate will surely take long to dissipate from the people of the Western Province, especially those that appreciate his role as the defender of justice
and the poor./MC/WK
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