It is with deep sorrow that we wish to announce the death of one of our priests and brother Rev. Fr. Gabriel G.S. Akemu, MSP, who died in the United Stated of America while on mission.  Fr. Akemu died at the early of hours of Tuesday March 18, 2003.

Fr. Gabriel Akemu was born on January 7, 1952, in Effurun Warri Diocese, Delta State.  He attended L.A. Primary School, Orhokpokpo, Agbaro, from 1968.  He had his Secondary education at Holy Martyrs of Uganda Seminary, Effurun from 1973 to 1978.  He started his seminary formation in the National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul, with Spiritual Year in 1978 and then his Philosophical and Theological studies from 1979 to 1986.  He was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1986.  He worked as a missionary in Liberia (1986-1999). During the 13 years he spent in Liberia, he proved himself a dedicated missionary and was the Vicar General of Cape Palmas Diocese, Liberia.  He stayed with his flock during the turbulent years of the Liberian civil war.  He even went with them as a refuge to Cote D'Voire.  He went on sabbatical to the U.S.  (2000-2001); and in 2002, he was assigned to the MSP U.S. Mission where he died after a bout of illness.

The Mass of Christian burial of Fr. Gabriel Akemu, MSP, was at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.  on Wednesday March 26, 2003.  The interment was at Sacred Heart Parish cemetery, Raywood, Texas.


(Culled the Memorial Mass of Rev. Fr. Gabriel G.S. Akemu, MSP at the National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul , Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria, Friday March 28, 2003).

Fr. Gabriel's Burial and Legacy
by Fr. Efiri Matthias Selemobri, MSP Houston, TX, USA

Fr. Gabriel Akemu died at 1.18 a.m. Tuesday, March 18, 2003. At his death, he had stayed in hospital for 34 days. MSP priests in the Greater Houston area kept watch over him, night and day, during his last days on earth to ensure that when the last moment comes, he would leave this world amidst the love of his brothers. Many calls and e-mail messages came from far and near places extending their condolences to us in the MSP family. He was buried on March 26, 2003 at the cemetery of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Raywood, Texas. It is dawning on me that in Fr. Akemu, the Missionary of St. Paul (MSP) family lost a hero.

Like St. Paul his patron, Fr.Akemu was 'all things to all men'. A point highlighted by Fr. Patrick Otor at the vigil Mass offered for Fr. Akemu. Among other things, Fr. Andrew Toyinbo said, Fr. Akemu's death would give birth to vocations. He connected Fr. Akemu's life to Jesus' saying, "Unless a grain of wheat falls and dies"(Jn. 12:24). There was deep feeling for Fr. Akemu's aged mother and the agony she must endure to hear about her son's death, as well as for two orphans in Liberia he supported. Some Liberians traveled half-the-night to pay their last respects to him. Fr. Akemu spent most of his priestly life in Liberia, and even in Ivory Coast, with Liberian refugees displaced by civil war between 1990 and 1998.

With emotion, Fr. Patrick Weah spoke to convey the sentiments of gratitude and loss from the Diocese of Cape Palmas, Liberia. He sang: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers" to capture Fr. Akemu's seflessness to suffering Liberians and others. The well-organized Urhobo Progressive Association of Houston was present in full force to say good-bye to one of their sons and members. With a charism unique to the Urhobos we were led in two songs. One translates: "The world that we live in is like a market place Whoever finishes shopping goes home."

There was an impressive array of Sisters of Nigerian, Cameroonian and USA origin. The Sisters from the USA are mostly the Sisters of the Incarnate Word with whom Fr. Akemu spent the last days of his priestly ministry. I remember him fondly referring to them as "my mothers".  Fr. Hyacinth Egbebo, Superior General of the MSP flew into the USA a day before, to be present at both the vigil and funeral. Also in attendance were an overwhelming number of MSP priests in the USA and priests of the Diocese of Warri, Fr. Akemu's home. So, were the Josephites, led by their Superior General: Fr. Robert Kearns. Bishop Vincent Rizotto: Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston was head of the diocesan delegation. Parishioners of St. Peter the Apostle, where the funeral Mass took place, and of other near-by MSP-run churches came. The large attendance at the vigil and funeral not only spoke of the MSP, but of the kind of person Fr. Akemu was.

"I was encouraged to hear that one Nigerian had made a good difference in people's lives elsewhere", said Kenny Ogedegbe, a long time Associate MSP. Another friend of MSP said, " I would like to die like a priest". Yes, Fr. Akemu lived his priesthood to the end. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.