He loved, and was loved
On Sunday 17 January, the earthly life of Archbishop Abel Gabuza was ended by Covid-19.
Due to succeed Cardinal Napier as Archbishop of Durban, Archbishop Abel had been in the position of Coadjutor for two years, and had become a familiar figure on the Missions.
In normal times, Archbishop Abel’s Requiem Mass would have been said at a large venue, attended by thousands of Catholics. But these are not normal times, and the closed Cathedral service was open only to the Archbishop’s family, and the clergy of the Archdiocese.
As the main celebrant, Cardinal Napier said the prayers, and circled the coffin with the sprinkling of holy water and the fragrant smoke of incense.
For interment, the coffin carried a simple swathe of flowers as it was lowered into the crypt alongside the flagstone carrying the name of Archbishop Denis Hurley.
The Requiem Mass followed, as his family and confréres bid Archbishop Abel farewell and joyful passage to his final home.
The Mass was live-streamed to be shared with anyone having access to the internet. And alongside the images of the Mass ran a continuous flood of heartfelt messages from people watching who wanted to pay their last respects.
The same words repeated over and over again gave the measure of the man: beloved, humble, faithful, dear, humane, warm, inspirational, sweet, true, beautiful, precious. These are all words that make it clear that Archbishop Abel was greatly loved. And the reason for that is the love that he gave to all those whose lives he touched, as both an ordinary Priest and Pastor, as well as someone of high ranking in the Church.
Described as a naturally shy person, Archbishop Abel wasn’t one to seek the limelight, but rather to modestly defer focus from himself. Profoundly human, he shared both happiness and sadness with others heart to heart. He will be greatly missed.