The burial ceremony of the prelate yesterday served as an opportunity for mourners to magnify what the Man of God lived and worked for
Jean-Marie Benoît Bala, Bishop of Bafia Diocese has ended his earthly ministry but what the prelate lived and worked for throughout his priesthood remains to testify of who he was. His official burial rites at the Bafia Ceremonial Ground yesterday August 3, 2017 in the presence of the Head of State's representative, Laurent Esso, Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, served as a platform for mourners to remind the sea of people who turned up on how the Man of God impacted the spiritual and material lives of those he met.
Different eulogies that characterised the crowd-pulling ceremony spoke of a man of conviction, focus and devotion, who could stretch any limit to meet the needs of mankind. From the representative of the spiritual sons and daughters of the late Jean-Marie Benoît Bala, that of his paternal and maternal family, elite of Mbam et Inoubou Division through the church and State, the deceased accepted and executed with satisfaction all that was conferred on him. All orators described the fallen prelate as one who had a special liking for the downtrodden and led a life of integrity.
A true image of Christ which all, though regretting the tragic nature of his death, found solace in as they said the deceased merits a place in the bosom of the Most High. To the Minister of State Property, Survey and Land Tenure who spoke on behalf of the elite of Mbam, Bishop Jean-Marie Benoît Bala spent 14 unforgettable years in the Bafia Diocese and left indelible footprints within and without his area of command. She said the indefatigable Man of God showed proof of unquestionable availability to all and sundry as he taught and encouraged. She said the late Bishop met a dozen of parishes in his jurisdiction and left over 40 of them. Clear signs that he was a preacher par excellence who defied all odds to advance the Good News through church planting. That he put in place a structure through which Catholics and non-Catholics could converge to advance the course of peace and mutual respect earned the late preacher in the wordings of different speakers a true crusader of ecumenism.
The presence of representatives of other religious bodies as well as the entire Catholic Church in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were testament to the depth and width with which the prelate impacted lives. Messages from the Pope read during the funeral service as well as the soul-searching speech of Samuel Kleda, President of the National Episcopal Conference exalted mourners and the entire Christendom to focus on God especially in such trying moments as "He is the author and finisher of all Christian faith." They all held that the brutality with which the prelate ended his ministry on earth and the pain it has left shouldn't in anyway cause despair. It should revive the spirit of humility, faithfulness and devotedness to God for "there is life after death for all believers." In a condolence message from the head of State read towards the end of the ceremony, Paul and Chantal Biya saluted the bravery of Jean-Marie Benoît Bala, expressed condolences to the family and entire church and enjoined all and sundry to remain steadfast. In the name of the Head of State, Minister Laurent Esso posthumously decorated the fallen clergy with a National Order of Valour Medal. His burial in strict intimacy in the Bafia Diocese closed the chapter.