As a newly ordained priest, as far back as 1989, Most Rev. (Dr.) Francis Obafemi Adesina, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ijebu-Ode, only knew late Most. Rev. Albert Ayinde Fasina, Emeritus Bishop, of same Diocese, in three Episcopal capacities – Bishop of Ijebu-Ode Diocese, one of the Bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province, and a Bishop of the South West region, from a far distance. But in 2013, the gaps suddenly closed, the barely one-month old Rector of the Major Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul, Ibadan, the then Rev. Fr. Francis Adesina, sat unpredictably, face-to-face, with Bishop Fasina in his office. The new Rector had done the unusual. He had no plans to move into the office of the Rector. Typical of his simple lifestyle, he shied away from relocation, and retained his office in his previous capacity, as Dean in same Seminary. This act was unfamiliar. He unknowingly shattered a symbolic transition that distinguishes a successor. People, irrespective of their vocations, are resistant to change.
There were mixed feelings. While others looked the other way, the unassuming Bishop Fasina didn’t. The teacher and father took pains, to travel the long stretch of Ijebu-Ode, to Ibadan Expressway, to ad vise his much younger brother priest. Their conversation was thought-provoking. It was a father to a son tête-à-tête. One thing became clear. A father isn’t defined in the context of biological relationship. Being a dad comes from the heart. Bishop Adesina goes down memory lane. “My first one-on-one encounter with Bishop Fasina was in 2013, precisely, March 2013, just one month after I was made the Rector of Ss. Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan. In history, he was the first Bishop to visit me as a Rector. He visited me twice, and those two moments were great moments for me.
“The first one made me become more conscious of my call as a rector, and he insisted that you are not just a teacher, you are called to be an exemplary teacher; that your life must influence the seminarians, positively. He called me, reminded me on the need for prayer. That, priests in the ministry are often distracted because they don’t see prayer as important, that I need to insist on prayer, in the Seminary. “He was the one who assisted me as a young Rector, or Rector of a few months, to know that well, I could not operate from any room that I prefer; I preferred to stay in my former room when I was made a Rector, but he was the one who midwifed me, said no, you will come to the Rector’s room. This was the room that was given to the Rector, and Bishops would want you to take it up. I was too shy to go in there, and I resisted going there, until he came.
I believed he is God sent because if I didn’t, maybe, I would have offended so many Bishops. He helped me to think through my resistance, and that was my first encounter with him. “My other encounter was talking about teaching those Seminarians, and what we can do to help them to be better priests in the future. Those two visits, only God knows that they were prophetic for me. Only those two visits that I had as a Rector, and the rest were general correspondence, until the day I was appointed a Bishop, that was January 17, 2019, about five years after my first physical meeting with him. And I came here on January 18, 2019, the day after my announcement, to meet him physically. And so, that was how our relationship continued to grow, till he died. Baba was great,” he narrated. The relationship blossomed thereafter. It was divine. But it was a relationship too short with an episcopal father. Read excerpts of the interview with Bishop Adesina.