Whenever I hear the death news of individuals, particularly those who dedicated their lives to the betterment of others, regardless of race or nationality, I am filled with sorrow. Are we truly prepared to follow in their footsteps, to make the sacrifices they made on our behalf, and are we aware enough to take up the mantle of service? Each Catholic bears the responsibility to carry forward the legacy of this remarkable priest.
Mrs. Bargblor and I are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Monsignor Robert Tikpor. He departed on the morning of Thursday, August 31, at the Saint Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia. He held the distinction of being the oldest Liberian priest at the time of his passing. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
I first met Dr. Monsignor Robert Tikpor when I was in the 8th grade at Carroll High School in Grassfield, Lamco, Nimba County. He led mass celebrations on several occasions during his visits to the campus of Bishop Carroll High School to meet with the Christian Brothers. In fact, he recommended some students from the Tapata area in Nimba County, and he would check up on them to ensure they were excelling in their academic pursuits.
Grade 8th, Carroll High School, Grassfield, 1970..Standing up..far right, is Rev. Brother Lougran and at far left is Edmund Z. Bargblor and kneeling down on the third left front role, is Dr. George N. Flahn, MD.
Rev. Msgr. Dr. Robert Gbatiae Tikpor was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on September 12, 1926. His parents, Giahwhaxwi Tikpor and Madame Michen Gbatiae Flow, were both Liberians, hailing from Grand Bassa County. He was sent to live with his grandmother in Liberia, where he grew up.
Monsignor Tikpor received his early education in Catholic Schools in Lower Buchanan and Monrovia. In 1946, he expressed his desire to become a priest and was subsequently admitted to the St. Theresa Minor Seminary in Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1948. After five years, he earned his Senior Cambridge Certificate courtesy of the Diocese of Monrovia. He then continued his studies at St. Paul’s Major Seminary in Benin City, present-day Edo State, Nigeria, where he delved into Philosophy and the Humanities for three years. From 1957 to 1961, Msgr. Tikpor pursued Theology at St. Paul’s Seminary in Pedu, Ghana. In 1961, he returned to Liberia to be ordained, becoming the second indigenous priest of Liberia, courtesy of the Diocese of Monrovia.
In 1972, he embarked on further studies at the Catholic University in Washington D.C., USA. He returned to Liberia in 1974 with a Master’s degree. Alongside the late Archbishop Emeritus Michael Kpakala Francis, he established a Seminary in Gbarnga, Bong County, now known as St. Paul’s College Seminary. In 1979, Msgr. Robert went to Rome, Italy, to study at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Angelicum). He graduated with honors, earning a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (Magna Cum Laude) in June 1980. Furthermore, in June 1981, he completed his Doctoral Dissertation in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.), courtesy of the Diocese of Monrovia.
He served in numerous parishes in Liberia, including Voinjama, Foyah, Gbarnga, Tappita, and Monrovia, respectively. In 2001, he reached the canonical retirement age. At 75 years old, he received the Church’s highest honors for his long and unwavering service to Mother Church and the Republic of Liberia. He was granted the title of Monsignor, an honor typically reserved for the Holy Father, the Pope. Additionally, Monsignor served as a National Orator twice, in 1997 and 2010, a unique honor in Liberia’s history. He received numerous accolades, including the Grand Band of Africa, bestowed by Her Excellency, Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on July 24, 2007.
In conclusion, throughout his tenure as a priest, Msgr. Robert Gbatiae Tikpor left an indelible mark on the Roman Catholic Church in Liberia. His service was a testament to compassion, humility, and a profound dedication to the people he served. He labored tirelessly to strengthen the Church’s presence in Liberia, fostering unity, spiritual growth, and the expansion of the Catholic Faith. Monsignor Robert Tikpor dedicated his life to serving humanity; he was truly a remarkable soul. His untimely passing is a profound loss, and he will be deeply missed.
Even, according to the frontpageafricaonline.com reported: “ The Dean of Barbara Jordan Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, Dr. George Klay Kieh, Jr. has described Catholic Priest Father Robert Tikpor as an iconic personality whose legacy against every form of societal vices in Liberia will never be forgotten in contemporary times.” (https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberians-eulogized-father-robert-tikpors-legacy/)
Allow me to conclude with the following eulogy verse:
“Nature, it seems, stands on its head,
When we mourn the loss of a great man.
Today, we remember his life with us,
The years of laughter and fun.
We’re thinking of all the times that we shared,
And though we are bowed with grief,
Today we celebrate the great man we once had,
Because it is our firm belief
That his life enriched us in so many ways,
Brought sunshine and happiness into our days.
And though we are heartbroken and very sad,
Today we admit that we’re also glad
That we had him, if only for too short a while.
Not yet, but sometimes, we’ll remember and smile.”
FAREWELL Dr. Monsignor Robert Tikpor , GREAT PRIEST, SLEEP AND TAKE YOUR REST TILL WE MEET AGAIN.
Mr. Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an Educator. He is a graduate of Cuttington University, Liberia; Howard University Washington, D.C, and Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. He is a former President of the African Catholic Community of Rhode Island and Former Grand Knight of Council 73, Knights of Columbus, Former Deputy Managing Director of the National Port Authority of Liberia, NPA. He is a graduate of Bishop Carroll High School. He can be contacted at: [email protected]