The death of a confrere is often a source of sadness, but the one of Richard, Cardinal Richard, is felt as a tragedy because it is difficult for us to separate it from the succession of events since May. He was appointed Cardinal, then President of SECAM, he came to Rome for the consistory and for this we mobilised ourselves to give thanks and celebrate here at the Generalate, receiving delegations and friends from all over! All of a sudden, everything stopped!
Since his death, we have tried to make sense of it all. Only one feeling prevails: only God knows. It is only in faith, in the word of God, that we have found consolation, for faith and the word do indeed bring us back to what we deeply are, brothers and sisters of Christ, adopted sons and daughters destined for the fullness of life in God. Baptised with Christ into death, as we heard in the first reading, Richard entered and still lives in the new life. We believe that, as in his life he ate the “living bread that came down from heaven”, he will “live forever” and we hope that we too will live with him when the time comes.
Allow me to share a word about Cardinal Richard. Those who lived with him appreciated his total commitment to the good of the Society and of the confreres. Richard was a great worker but he was also a charming companion. As we know, his health was not good and several times he had to stop and had to be hospitalised. But when he was discharged, he was back at it again: trips, visits, meetings and conferences. Richard had become a true representative of our Society and an icon for many of us. His last appointments show how much his intelligence, his clear-sightedness and his commitment were recognised at the level of the Church in Africa and of the Universal Church.
During the Mass of thanksgiving for his nomination as Cardinal that I presided over here, I mentioned how happy we were to welcome different delegations in the house where he lived for 16 years! That’s longer than he lived anywhere else in the same place! It is beautiful in a way that it is in this house that he spent his last days on earth.
We will miss him for a long time. We pray that he may rest in peace and be reunited in joy with the One he served so well.
Father Stanley Lubungo,
Farewell Mass – 19/12/2022