MONROVIA – The Catholic Church of Liberia is mourning the loss of its oldest Liberian Priest, Rev. Monsignor Dr. Robert Tikpor. He would have turned 97 this September.
By Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
Monsignor Robert Tikpor died on Thursday at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, according to a statement issued by the Church through the Diocesan Administrator Rev. Monsignor Dr. Gabriel Blamo Jubwe.
“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we, the members of the College of Consultors of
the Archdiocese of Monrovia, announce the death of our beloved oldest Liberian
priest, Very Rev. Monsignor Dr. Robert Gbatieh Tikpor, whose sad event occurred at 4:22 ante meridian on Thursday, August 3 1, 2023 at the Catholic Hospital, Monrovia.”
The Church said funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Monsignor Tikpor, called as Father Tikpor, was not only influential within the Catholic Church and the religious community, but in the entire Liberian society.
He held the distinct honor of serving as a national orator twice – first in 1997 at the request of Madam Ruth Sando Perry, then head of Liberia’s Transitional Government at the time. Thirteen years later in 2010, he was asked again, this time by then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to deliver the national oration at Liberia’s 163 Independence anniversary celebration held in Sanniquellie, Nimba County – a place he once lived in his early days as a Priest.
Delivering for the second time in his life the country’s Independence Day Oration, Monsignor Tikpor called on the government to tackle corruption “head to toe.” He said “I am warning this nation, to kick away corruption, bury it head and foot in the grave, stop corruption otherwise it will raise its ugly head very loud again. We are talking about corruption in high places, stop it now, it is eating up the government’s energy. Bury the virus heads and toes.
Speaking on the selected theme “In National Unity, we will stand”, Father Tikpor, known in Liberia for his fearless posture on issues of national concerns, warned that unless the Government buries the deadly corruption virus that was eating the energy of the government, all of its achievements will go down the drain.
To foster unity, he called for Liberia to have a common indigenous language which all of its citizens can speak. “Because if they speak that language anywhere in the world, they will be hearing the Liberian language,” he said.
He used the platform to identify what he referred to as the three missing links which are indispensable for national unity. He said the bond of blood, language and faith are crucial in the attainment of national unity.
He listed insidious poverty which, he said, has been exacerbated by selfishness and greed, unceasing corruption in high places and a lack of patriotism. Personal interest, he noted, has been placed above a common national interest. “As a result, when the test of a civil war came, we were a divided, tormented and easily turned apart people,” the clergyman recalled.
As one of the few early Liberian Priests, Fr. Tikpor and the late Archbishop Michael Francis helped plant many Catholic Churches in Liberia.
He later served as Priest of the St. Kizito Parish in Paynesville where he retired. In his early days as Priest, he was assigned in Nimba County, where he helped to grow Churches in Sanniquellie, northern Nimba and in Tappita, down south.
Parishioners and students remembered him as an “iconic religious leader with a gentle soul.”