HOMILY AT THE FUNERAL OF MOST REV. LEWIS JEROME ZEIGLER ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS OF MONROVIA SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL – Most Rev. Andrew Jagaye Karnley

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Your Excellencies

Msgr. Gabriel Jubwe, Diocesan Administrator of Monrovia

Fr. Gilbert Tsogli, Charge d’Affaires a.i., The Apostolic Nunciature in Liberia

Distinguished Officials of Government

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Superiors and Representatives of Religious Congregations

The Clergy, Religious Men and Women

The Laity

Esteemed Prelates & Members of the Liberian Council of Churches

The Inter-religious Council of Liberia

The Family and Friends of Archbishop Lewis Zeigler

Country Managers and Representatives of International Agencies and Organizations

Civil Society Organizations

Members of the Press

Men and Women of Goodwill

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

John Newton, the Anglican cleric who wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace,” which is still today a powerful testament to his own conversion said that every person is capable of being born three times. We are born into this world by nature; we are born spiritually by grace; and we are born into glory by death.

We are here today to celebrate not the death but the birth of Archbishop Lewis Zeigler into the glory of eternal life. His death in the evening of Friday, August 12, 2022 marked the end of his mission on this earth and his entry into glory. And so he appropriates the words of St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 to signal to us the end of his mission and his vibrant hope for the crown and glory of eternal life:

I have fought the good fight, I have run the race to the finish, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Archbishop Zeigler served the Church and humanity with pastoral zeal and unflinching commitment as a priest and a bishop. His pastoral ministry was inspired by the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd who came to serve (Mt. 20:28) and to give the fullness of life to all who believed in him (Jn. 10:10). He served well and made a meaningful difference in the lives of many people by uplifting them spiritually and also through educational and material support.

How will Archbishop Zeigler be remembered? The Church will remember him as a servant leader who was selfless in his pastoral service and magnanimous in his charity. He was a man of peace and reconciliation; a friendly and approachable person; an empathetic listener and a counsellor.

One could not help but admire his humility and simplicity as a priest and a bishop in the Church. He was unassuming and had the least ambition for high office in the Church. He even tried to no avail to avoid being appointed bishop and archbishop. He only accepted to be bishop and later archbishop after much persuasion and being reminded of his promise of obedience to the Holy Father.

In a quiet way, the Archbishop left his mark on the Church for being a zealous pastoral leader and a prudent administrator. His patience, tolerance, and understanding in dealing with people and issues are unparalleled. These exceptional qualities of his were at times misconstrued by some people as a sign of weakness and even abused by them. But he always sought the grace of God to forgive those who faulted him.

His family and friends will miss him for the Spiritual Father he was to them. And Liberia will miss another fine and truly patriotic son in the person of Archbishop Lewis Zeigler

Being a quiet and soft-spoken person, the Archbishop seldom made bold statements on critical issues; yet he was deeply concerned and spoke boldly a few times on the menace of corruption and stealing in the public and private sectors of our country.

Archbishop Zeigler found it very concerning that we are spending more time talking and making bold statements about corruption in Liberia but doing little or nothing tangible to fight it. This social sin is unfortunately becoming an acceptable way of life in our country because we are lacking the courage and willpower to fight it. Besides underdevelopment and poverty, stealing brings disgrace and shame; but honest hard work is always rewarded with respect and dignity.

Mahatma Gandhi termed the acquisition of wealth without work as a social sin. Archbishop Zeigler believed in the dignity and blessings of honest hard work.

Archbishop once grew up, lived and served in a Liberia that experienced good and bad times. He saw Liberia rising like a phoenix from the ashes of war; he also saw like many of us a rainbow of hope and promise on the horizon for the country.

But he has left us at a point in time when the country is again at the crossroads because of governance issues and corruption; poor infrastructure and deplorable roads in some parts of the country; violence and gangsterism in our streets and communities; and the brazen disregard for human dignity and the sanctity of human life as evidenced by some questionable murders and the determined move by foreign actors lobbying our government to legalize abortion.

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Lest we forget and as a reminder to our individual and collective conscience. Abortion is murder; violence begets violence. Corruption is still leading to underdevelopment and creating poverty. And anything that impinges on human dignity is an egregious afront to God who created every person in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).

God will ultimately hold accountable in the court of divine justice all those who are responsible and complicit for the evils and deficits that are overshadowing and reversing the gains of the past and the present in our country.

Though the Church, the family, friends, and Liberia will miss Archbishop Zeigler, and as he was prayerful and a person of deep faith, we entertain the sure hope that he is with his Maker. He now stands before his Maker trusting in our prayers for him, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints that he too will have a share in the glory of heaven.

On a note of acknowledgement and gratitude, may God bless all those who collaborated with Archbishop Zeigler and supported his ministry as a priest and a bishop in the Church. And I invoke an abundance of Divine blessings also upon all those who supported and cared for him during his retirement and ill health.

Go in peace, Your Grace. You lived your life well and served the Church dutifully. Thank you for keeping the faith and running the race to the finish. Receive now your crown of glory and rest in eternal peace.

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Most Rev. Andrew Jagaye Karnley

Bishop of Cape Palmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Grace, Bishop Andrew Jagaye Karnley of the Cape Palmas Diocese Honored in the United States By: Alfred L. M. Gazaye

 

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