Highfield parishioners of the Roman Catholic Church have bemoaned the missed opportunity to ‘properly mourn’ the late priest and national hero, Father Emmanuel Francis Ribeiro before his burial at the National Heroes Acre today.
By Tadiwa Madava
Father Riberio died at St Annes Hospital in Harare on Friday last week, at the age of 86.
Owing to measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, the Highfield parishioners and the larger community could not attend the funeral of Father Ribeiro who has since been laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre.
Father Ribeiro served at the Highfield parish for 15 years from 1967 to 1969 before he left to work as a Chaplain at Harare Central prison.
He returned back to Highfield parish in 2009 until his death on Friday last week.
They were instructed to wait for the mass to finish so that they can only catch a glimpse of the hearse carrying Father Ribeiro’s body to its final resting place.
“It makes no sense to gather us here, there is no social distance, they should have allowed us inside since there is enough space,” said Tatenda Mugwambi one of the Old Highfield parishioner.
The Highfield parishioners had to content with waiting at a nearby bus stop singing some of the late priest’s songs while top church officials including clergy were allowed inside the church.
Some complained that the mass was being personalised by people with high ranks while they were the ones who spent most of their time with the late priest.
“It looks like the mass is for the clergy and people with high ranks in the church, yet Fr Ribeiro spent most of his time with us during his ministry, they should allow us to just bid farewell to him, we are his family”, said Vanessa Bwatamba one of the Catholic youths at Old Highfield parish.