Jude Chinedu, Enugu
A Catholic priest working in Enugu Diocese, Fr. Joachim Cabanyes, has died of COVID-19 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) isolation centre in Enugu.
The priest who hailed from Spain and had served in Opus Dei Prelature, Emene, Enugu, for over 28 years, died on Thursday after being admitted into the isolation facility a week before.
Confirming the incident to journalists yesterday, the Enugu Catholic Diocese Public Relations Officer Fr. Benjamin Achi said his remains were laid to rest in the evening of the same day in accordance with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines.
He said: “As priests, we cannot shy away from our pastoral duties, but the only thing is just for us to take the normal precautions, as much as we can, as we go about ministering to people and administering sacraments.
“Honestly, his death came to us as a rude shock because it had not been long – just over a week ago – that he told us that he tested positive for COVID- 19, soliciting our prayers.
“So, nobody expected that he was going to succumb to the disease because throughout his battle against it, he was very calm, peaceful and courageous and we had all hoped that he would pull through.
“Everybody felt bad about his death. Fr Joachim was of the prelature of the Opus Dei, but he had been working in Enugu Diocese for close to 30 years now. So, he is a part and parcel of us and we really felt bad about his passing – everybody, beginning from the bishop to all the priests and the faithful.
“To lose someone that has been part of the presbyterium in Enugu for such long years in that manner is so terrible. But what can we do but pray for the repose of his soul?”