Tribute Letters to Bishop Duffy

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Our brother Paul was called home by God five days ago.

I mourn with you, recalling his ready smile, the frequent twinkle in his eye and, of course, his missionary zeal. They gave life to so much we treasure in the young oblate Delegation and Diocese of Mongu.

I mourn with you, thanking God for rescuing him from the relentless pain that had become a foe more vicious even than the poverty and injustice he so fiercely battled in his ministry.

I mourn with you your founder, first superior of the Zambia Mission. A position he sought for its truly missionary motives. He so much wanted to let his energy, convictions, determinations, passion, and love of the Oblate way to be a guiding force among the first Oblates to tread the sands of the Western Province. He coalesced that first team’s zeal.

He found his home among the people on the banks of the Zambezi and, with his Oblate co-founders; he helped make it a home for 27 years worth of future Oblates from near and far. Special condolences go to Pat Gitzen, Paul’s life-long friend, missionary confrere and co-founder, as well as to Ron Walker, Paul’s successor superior in the Zambian Mission.

I mourn with you, grateful for what we celebrate: Paul’s heritage in the west of Zambia and in the Oblate Zambian community. He never asked of others what he himself had not already given in great measure. His hospitality set the standard for many of us; his selflessness left many of us in the dust, cringing at what it was costing him.

He spent his first Oblate years in Texas teaching from behind a desk. He spent his later Oblate years teaching by example at the table, in the dugout, on the sand; by voicing the needs of the poor to powerful ears and hard hearts, and by proclaiming Christ in an outstation as loudly as in a cathedral. We addressed him as “Your Lordship” but we spoke with him as brother.

Our brother Paul has been called home by God. Paul recognized the voice. He heard it and heeded it. As it did last Tuesday, often enough it beckoned him to a new place. From Boston to Canada to Texas; from one side of the desk to the other; from high school campus to downtown parish; but the divine voice he longed to hear was the one calling him to Africa. He waited as he listened. Patience and the clearest of all his calls brought him finally to Zambia.

Our brother Paul was called home by God five days ago. Six days ago, and for weeks before that, he had been pleading to be free of pain and to go home to Zambia.

It was his twin prayer. I have traveled thousands of miles at Paul’s side on hair-brained vacation adventures as well as gear-grinding sand trails to mission stations. I know there are few who could match his stamina (I among them.) His stamina in prayer has been rewarded. He is free of pain. And, he is on his way home to Zambia.

I suppose, in truth, we do not mourn him. The young among us feel the loss of a friend as do we ancient ones. But we are all happy to know there is the convincing voice of an advocate in heaven as we return our friend to his enduring, earthly resting place – Mongu.

Be at peace.
Fr. Billy Morell, OMI

I add my own condolences to the whole delegation on the loss of Bishop Duffy. He is not physically among you now, but I know he has left a good legacy in the delegation and in the Diocese that many others will carry forward and build on. And I know he has not really left you, but will continue to support and guide you and the people. My prayers for your peace.

Very Rev. William Antone, OMI
Provincial, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, USA

Paul the missionary

– Commitment to spreading the good news through. The church expanded to the remotest parts of Lukulu during Paul’s time as a pastor.

– Outstation visitation- He carried no food, he ate what local people would give me. He walked on foot, rode in dugout canoes, and slept in tents.

– He promoted lay leadership – trusting people, working with the catechists – motivating them by giving simple gifts such as watches. He loved the poor, and especially those who were affected by leprosy.

– Promoting vocations- priesthood and religious life – he was never afraid to challenge young people to commit their life to God.

– He was a generous priest. On our birthdays as students, he would give us T-shirts or US$10. He always liked sharing a cup of coffee with visitors. He appreciated and was proud of how the sacrifices of the people, especially his family, were able to help him minister to God’s people.

Paul the Bishop

– Ordained me as a deacon, and a priest. “I am proud of you Joe,” he would always say.

– He was a humble man.

– He loved the church. He liked visiting parishes and confirmed Christians. This was an opportunity for him to fulfill his pastoral duties, and promoted lay ministry

– Fearless, he confronted the local leaders, government leaders. He was indeed a voice for the voiceless.

– Close to the people- especially to his priests. If you didn’t pass through his office he would always challenge you on that. You didn’t have to have an appointment with Duffy

– Paul was an easy Bishop to work with and for. Whenever there was an issue with an Oblate, he would always approach an Oblate Superior; he would ask that action be taken. He did not push people around.

Paul an Oblate of Mary Immaculate

– He was a man of prayer. We would pray the rosary whenever I travelled with him and related to Mary, as his own mother.

– Community, Paul loved community activities, card games. When he became a bishop, he wanted his priests to experience community life, so he assigned them to live in Oblate communities for one year. I know he hated to stay alone.

He was asking if we could assign an Oblate to his house. He loved to host Oblates and was truly proud of Oblates

– Obedient, Paul was an obedient man. I remember after he had handed in his resignation, I asked him what he would want to do. His reply was: “You will tell me what you want me to do.” Paul never missed oblate activities, retreats, and assemblies.

Paul loved Zambia

– It was his home
– He cared for the people, he truly wanted Zambians to have a better life.
– He was hard on himself but he hated to see others suffer.

– When I visited him here in San Antonio, he wanted very much to go back to Zambia and he wanted to be pain free. “If only they can manage my pain, then I can go back to Zambia.”

– His message was, “tell the people to support Evans. He is a good man; the church is in good hands.”

Paul, I will escort you to Zambia. You are no longer in pain, and yes, the church is in good hands. Evans is a good man; we will love him and support him.

But pray for us so that we can truly be Oblates you always wanted us to be. The people of Zambia are proud of you, you fought for them, your Oblate brothers are proud of you. You were a true missionary, a loving priest and a fearless Bishop. May your spirit continue to live in us. We will miss you Paul, a humble servant of God. Rest in the eternal peace of God.

Fr Joseph Phiri, OMI
Former Zambia Oblate Delegation Superior

Blessings!  I would like to extend my deepest condolences upon the death of Bishop Paul Duffy, OMI. I was certainly shocked to hear of Paul’s death.  We can say that he poured out his life for the mission of the Gospel and emptied himself out as an oblation for the Lord. May he receive his eternal reward and rest in the Father’s House eternally! You are present among us in our thoughts and prayer.

Most Rev. Louis Lougen, OMI
Superior General – Rome/Italy.


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