The people of Kimberley have suffered “a double loss, first with their beloved Bishop being transferred to Durban and now his permanent transfer to the Lord’s Kingdom”
MESSAGES of condolence have poured in for Coadjutor Archbishop Abel Gabuza, who was the former Bishop of the Catholic Church in Kimberley.
Gabuza died at Hillcrest Hospital in Durban on Sunday after losing his battle with Covid-19.
He was the Archbishop of Durban at the time of his passing.
Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul said that Gabuza’s death was a loss to the Durban church, the people of Kimberley and the entire religious fraternity whom he had served.
“Archbishop Gabuza has been described as a gentle, caring and warm-hearted person who impacted greatly on the lives of people. At this hour of great loss, our thoughts are with the broader Catholic Church and the congregants that he has served throughout his life,” said Saul.
“Our sincerest condolences to Archbishop’s sister Hildegarde, his extended family and the people of Pretoria where he hails from and where his home diocese is located, as well as everyone who has come to know, love and respect this remarkable man of the Church.
“May the members of the Church, family and friends be comforted during this difficult time and may the soul of Archbishop Gabuza rest in peace and rise in glory.”
The Dean of the Catholic Diocese of Kimberley, Father Victor Tlholo, said that Gabuza was a formidable leader.
“We are very touched by the passing of Archbishop Gabuza. He was a very good man who was always full of joy. He always wanted people to be happy and brought us together. We have lost a man who was there to guide and lead us. We pass our condolences to his family and the Deanery in Durban,” said Tlholo.
The Vatican also expressed its condolences regarding the passing of Gabuza on its website.
South Africa’s Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier OFM, the Archbishop of Durban, described Gabuza as friendly and warm.
“The Archbishop had not been with us in Durban long, just short of two years, but in that time we came to recognise him as a gentle, caring and warm-hearted pastor. Through his gentleness, caring and warmth, he made an immediate impact on everyone who was privileged to make his acquaintance. That is an added reason why his passing is such a tremendous loss to us and the entire Church in South Africa,” said Napier.
“We also feel very sad for the Church and the people in Kimberley who suffer a double loss, first with their beloved Bishop being transferred to Durban and now his permanent transfer to the Lord’s Kingdom,” he added.
Gabuza was the Bishop of Kimberley from 2010 until 2018 after he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on December 23, 2010.
He also served as the president of the Justice and Peace Commission of Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference, where he advocated for the safeguarding of worker’s pension funds from government interference.
Gabuza also added his voice to a number of social challenges facing the country such as the sexual abuse of minors, gender-based violence and the combating of HIV/Aids.
In April 2020, he was also part of the church leaders who supported government restrictions on church services to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
He called on church leaders to find creative means to reach their congregants and to return to “older” ways of spreading the gospel.
“The Church of Christ started small in homes and not in big structures that we have today. In a way we are going back to our roots because each family is a domestic church. When we come together on Sunday or any other day, we gather as various domestic churches,” Gabuza said at the time.