The passing on of the Bishop Emeritus of Ijebu-Ode, Bishop Albert Fasina, has touched different people in different ways, in the Catholic Church and other circles. Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo speaks on his experience with the deceased bishop. Excepts!
What words would you use to describe His Lordship, late Emeritus Bishop Fasina?
For me, Bishop Albert Fasina of blessed memory was a kind-hearted, modest, humble, generous person, who always wanted to do the best he could for everybody. 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.
What is your most inspiring memory of Bishop Fasina?
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. Even after he became Bishop, very many of us still kept calling him Baba. He was a natural baba, brother and teacher to everybody.
Are there peculiar lessons that you learned from Bishop Fasina that would enhance spiritually of Catholics in general?
Oh yes, all these values and ideals relate to our pursuit of holiness. He has a great deal of perseverance, even in very difficult circumstances under very difficult situations. Whenever he takes ill during his lifetime, he didn’t make it a burden for anybody, he tried his best to do his job. I can see that he has the gift of perseverance as a Christian. Being Catholic is being able to carry our cross after Christ, and carry our cross like Christ did. I think he was a good example of that. He would persevere, even if the moments were difficult. And also the lesson of him being humble, one cannot be a good Christian, without humility and modesty. Bishop Fasina was a very modest person, and always willing to help. Then, he was a teacher; he tried, and took every opportunity to teach. I remember how many publications he showed me that he made in Ijebu-Ode, in order to help the lay faithful, to understand their faith better, and to learn it under different circumstances. I was impressed by that. He either publishes or calls for a lot of publications to be made. He was fair in the administration of the Diocese. Those things were actually for me very significant. He is a teacher, and I think for us who are Christians, the desire to teach others about the faith, and the desire to spread the gospel should be paramount in our hearts and in our minds, otherwise you are not Christians, nor Disciples of Christ.
We would like to have your condolence message to the beloved people of Ijebu– Ode.
I wonder whether what I should be giving to the people of Ijebu-Ode should be a condolence message or a congratulatory message, in the sense that I feel Bishop Fasina has been a gift to us, and especially to the Diocese. I think he is a very big gift for them. Bishop Fasina lived for eighty-two years, he could have lived for less; he could have lived for longer. For us Christians and Catholics, when somebody dies, we keep talking and emphasizing the fact that we have lost that person. I think in this case, we should simply be grateful to God, for priceless Bishop Fasina. He simply went back home. God gave us that entire gift for his humility, his capacity and desire to teach for eightytwo full years. We should be rejoicing that we had him. We should be rejoicing that God gave us such a man, rather than lamenting. God decided to take him back home, and take him to eternal rest. So, we thank God, for sending him. I congratulate the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode, and I ask them to take consolation and solace on the promise of Jesus Christ that he would raise him up on the last day. If you wish to call that condolence, so be it. But I think, it’s a congratulatory message that we had such a man, in the Diocese. We should simply be grateful to God for priceless Bishop Fasina – Bishop Badejo cross after Christ, and carry our cross Diocese.