These are the words of His Grace Most Rev Dr Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria on the death of Fr Colin Fives, OSA
It was very devastating and shocking news on the afternoon of 21st March, 2022, of the sudden death of Fr Colin Fives, OSA, aged 74.
Fr Fives, an Irish Augustinian priest, arrived Nigeria in 1974 as a dashing young man full of brains and vibrancy. Upon arrival, he devoted so much time and energy to grassroots/primary evangelization. A down-to-earth missionary, he took his pastoral duties seriously, being available for confessions, trekking to villages, climbing mountains, riding on his motorcycle equipped with his Mass box, water flask, including what he called “magani” and went about celebrating the Mass and other sacraments for the people of God. He would not miss his outstation appointments, for whatever reason.
As a seminarian, I had my first apostolic work experience in Zing with him in 1976. He was our Vocations Director. The only day I ever considered leaving the Major Seminary because of a not-too-good encounter with a priest, Fr Colin Fives came providentially on that day to St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Yola. Knowing I was visibly worried and sad, he pampered and cajoled me, and personally carried my box into his pickup van and drove me to the motor park. I returned to St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos, and never again did I have any thoughts about leaving, drawing inspiration from the kind action and friendship of Fr Fives.
While studying in Rome, I spent memorable days of holiday with Colin and his parents in Dungarvan, Ireland, in 1988. I thank God that Colin’s path and mine crossed. I appointed him my Vicar General of the newly created Jalingo Diocese in 1995. He was not only a mentor and brother priest, he was also a dear friend.
My heartfelt condolences to Bishop Charles Hammawa and to the good people of Jalingo Diocese, and the biological family and friends of Fr Fives in Ireland. Nigeria will certainly miss this iconic Irish missionary who loved his mission with great passion, and exercised it with all his mind and heart and strength. He ran the race well. May the Lord grant him the crown of glory.
Most Rev. Ignatius A Kaigama,
Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria