By Neta Nwosu
If you say that he was born for others, you might not be exaggerating. Most Rev. Albert Ayinde, Bishop of the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state, had breathed his last, but his good deeds cannot be forgotten in a jiffy. To say that philanthropy was his calling, would amount to simply repeating the obvious. After his 81 years’ voyage on earth, though barely nine days to his 82 birthday anniversary, he exited the stage with a resounding ovation. Looking at his track records, everyone would readily concur that he emptied himself for others to be filled. As if his life depended on it, he effortlessly rendered help to Christians, Muslims and people of other faith. On June 29, 2021, Bishop Fasina passed on leaving behind his big shoes that might be too big for anyone to fit in. By all definition, he was totally sold out to the work of Christ and humanity, that some persons who were close to him, might have felt that he was not a normal creature. His family members and acquaintances could not fathom, where he drew his strength from, in his quest to leave the world better than he had met it.
For instance, he never hesitated to display how the poor and the destitute were so dear to his heart. On many occasions, he would be on his way to functions, but stop and pick mentally-deranged people who were roaming the streets. Then, he would put them in his car, and drive them to the home for the destitute. It won’t end there, he would go about, to solicit money that would allow the sick have total healing. What would have certainly gladdened his heart, even now in death, is that so many of these people he rescued are now well, and have reunited with their family members. Apart from his uncommon passion for the spreading of the gospel, he preached and practised true love. Indisputably, his family members, parishioners and friends of the departed Bishop are not mourning.
They are rejoicing, and celebrating a life that was wisely spent, especially with the assurances that his eternity with Jesus Christ was certain. He was a man that always ventured into what most people would ordinarily despise or shy away from. Bishop Fasina had on many occasions, out of his own volition, picked up decaying corpses by the roadside, and buried them. Doing things even when it was most inconvenient for him, apparently gave him a sort of undiluted joy. And that kept him going for decades, without being tired or wary Tributes like torrents of rain have been pouring in for the man born on July 8, 1939 into the Muslim family of Late Pa Disu Fasina and Madam Moriatu Disu. Interestingly, Bishop Fasina’s father was an Imam. He attended St. Mary Catholic School OkeOdolewu.
The narrative has since changed, as he converted to Catholicism at the age of 20. Displaying his academic prowess, from there, he proceeded to Central School, Itamapako, then to St. Patrick Catholic School, Isiwo, and was later taken by his elder brother to Lagos, where he completed his Primary School Leaving Certificate in 1954. He returned to Isiwo to attend the Community Modern School. On finishing from the Community Modern School, he was posted to Lepia Village in Lekki District, and later to Roman Catholic School (RCM), Igbodu as a probationary teacher. After teaching for a while, and distinguishing himself, he proceeded, and qualified as a Grade III teacher from St. Mark Teachers Training College, Iperu-Remo in 1969. He qualified as Grade II teacher from St. Joseph Teachers College, Surulere, Lagos. Dramatically, and as fate would have it, in April 1959, Bishop Fasina Albert, who was a Muslim, was baptised by Fr. Terence Birmingham at St. Michael Catholic Church, Igbodu, and had his First Communion at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Molajoye, an outstation of Ibowon Parish. His story might not be complete, without mentioning that he was under the tutelage of Bishop Aggey of blessed memory.
He was a Catechist, a Lector and a Legionary. Although active in the Church, the thought of being a priest did not cross his mind, until Fr. Alfred Ajayi spoke to him on a particular Sunday evening. Fr. Terrence and Fr. Carew at different times, also persuaded him. He was ordained a Priest with Msgr. Victor Ajayi on March 8, 1980. He was assigned to the then Remo Parish (now a Deanery), as Assistant Parish Priest, and became the Cathedral Administrator, in 1981 till 1984, when he went to the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port-Harcourt, to study Pastoral Theology. While at the Cathedral, he fearlessly preached the Word, and took the message to every nook and cranny of the community. His efforts, through the help of the Holy Spirit, gave rise to many souls being won for Christ. Anywhere he went; he preached morality and frowned on anything that would bring shame to the body of Christ. Having met all the requirements, he was appointed Bishop on June 21, 1988, consecrated a Bishop on September 10, 1988, succeeded the Pioneer Bishop of Ijebu-Ode on August 14, 1990, and retired, as Bishop of Ijebu-Ode on January 17, 2019 at the age of eighty minus six months.
It will also interest many people, to know that Bishop Fasina is the man, who was appointed Bishop and wanted to decline on health grounds, but was told that even if he dies after a day, it is for God’s honour. Upon taking possession of the Diocese, he moved into the Bishop’s house of the Diocese, but only with two tins of sardine, two loaves of bread and two bottles water. He met the number of indigenous priests at six, and left it at sixty-seven and a Deacon. Parishes also grew from few numbers to thirty-eight. His stewardship stood him out, and the Church never regretted for “forcing” on him a responsibility to serve as a bishop. After becoming a Bishop, for a period of 29 years, he was at the helm of Ijebu-Ode Diocese, since his Episcopal Ordination in September 1988, until his retirement in January 2019, at the age of 79. As acknowledged by many people, across the country, and beyond, late Bishop Fasina was known for many acts of charity, without calling the press or drawing attention to himself, key among them being his love and care for mentally-challenged persons, including those neglected by their respective families as well as the larger society.
Extolling the Bishop’s legacy, Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, said that Bishop Fasina was a kind-hearted, modest, humble, generous person who always wanted to do the best he could for everybody. According to him: “For me, that is the description of being a holy man really, because only God is all holy. The description of holiness for me is a person who tries to be himself, according to the law of God, for everyone, and everything around him. And that is what I think he tried to do, he’s an holy man. On his most inspiring memory of his late colleague, Bishop Badejo said, “my most inspiring memory of him was sometime in the Seminary. He was a number of years our senior but we saw him, as an elderly man, and much more experienced person. He commanded so much respect in the Seminary that even those who were his senior used to call him ‘brother’, and he was a ‘daddy’ to the rest of us who were much his junior, even those three or four years his junior, because he was always in the right place at the right time, and doing the right thing with a smile on his face, with his characteristic humility.
“We saw him as a father and a teacher. He has had plenty of experience as a teacher then, and he really put it to practice. He wanted to help everybody, and guide everybody, in a very considerate way. So I had that memory of him as somebody who always try to do what is right, without looking at anybody’s face, and he was always friendly and available, and ready to help anybody and generous too.” In his tribute, Prince Robert Soji Olagunju, Chairman and Founder, Lumen Christi Television Network, Lagos, described Bishop Fasina as a very humble and simple man of God. Hear him: “He was a living example of a saint – like shepherd of Christ’s flock. His ever so cool demeanour and consistent comportment undoubtedly drew many to him. I grew up right from infancy to know late Bishop Fasina at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Lagos. He was very close to my deceased parents, and saw them as role models even before he joined the seminary. He regularly counselled and admonished us at our early ages to be steadfast in serving God and humanity.
He was extremely nice, caring and also very firm in an endearing manner! “From all indications, what he valued most was his relationship with his maker as well as fellow men and women. He valued inter – personal relationships to the extent that his eyes sparkled with joy whenever he sees one and will painstakingly, asked after each member of the family. Looking back with great nostalgia, one could still recall how much he valued being meditative and prayerful in all circumstances towards the ultimate goal of getting into heaven. “By far, the most inspiring memory was those kind words of counsel he gave me as an elder brother, seeing into the future would do, when we were getting set to commission Lumen Christi Catholic TV Network, right at the hallowed grounds of Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, Lagos. He called me aside and said, Robert I know how huge and costly this Lumen Christi TV assignment would be, and also very glad to know you have taken up the task.
He then said in a very solemn manner, Robert, do not be afraid, Lumen Christi will impact on lives! “That was over seven years ago when things were still being put into place! Without doubt, he was a Prophet in all ramifications. His faith and hope in Christ Jesus, was so inspiring and infectious, and definitely robbed off on all of us who were privileged to have known him. “May the departed Soul of Most Rev Albert Ayinde Fasina, and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.” While eulogizing the departed soul for being a source of joy to many depressed people, Fr. Anthony Adetayo, on his Facebook post, wrote “Many mentally-challenged persons were reunited with their family members, thanks to Bishop Fasina. Corpses by the road side are not left out; he would pick them up, and bury them. Catholics and Non-Catholics approached him, and have the existence, and sustenance of their almost crumbling relationship to his mediation.
” The late Bishop was also interested in the media, and promoted social communications in his diocese, the Priest goes on to say, adding, “His major interest was in the Print media for the formation of the people. He believed in the power of the media in the Church’s evangelization mission.” His kingdom activism and multiple harvests of souls might have given the Satan and his hosts some nagging headache. One will certainly be correct to say that the respected man of God was rugged for Christ. From those who knew him, he was so much in a haste to impact many lives as quickly as possible. Indeed, Bishop Fasina came; he saw and he conquered. As Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”, the revered cleric has handed the baton to those he left behind to continue the race.