Fr. Joseph Mbiydzenyuy, the Parish priest of St. Paul’s Parish Nkwen in Bamenda passed away on February 2, 2021, and was laid to rest on Saturday, February 4.
Thousands of Christians and well-wishers showed up to bid their final farewells to the much-loved priest popularly known as Father Joe Black.
Some had started raising worries over why his burial was slated for 4:00 PM and without Masses for the dead as prescribed by church law.
Their worst fears were confirmed when his body was brought to the church by a medical team of the Bamenda Regional Hospital, dressed in hazmat suits. He was said to have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The last nail on the coffin came at the end of the funeral mass when it was announced that the Christians and well-wishers should remain seated in the Cathedral, while the Archbishop goes out to conduct the final burial rites and hand the mortal remains to the COVID-19 team for burial.
Enraged, youths are said to have stormed out of the church in anger and confiscated the casket after a standoff that saw them send the CVOVID-19 team away from the premises.
Archbishop Nkea, the Regional Delegate for Health, administrative personnel, some priests, and the forces of law and order watched the scene, helplessly as the youths carried out the burial in a regular manner.
The late Fr. Joe, prior to his death is said to have had a history of medical complications and was a kidney patient.
Sources close to the church and his family confirmed that he was on dialysis at the Regional Hospital in Bamenda.
“Why declare a patient COVID-19 positive only at death while people were visiting him while in the hospital? Is every patient suffering from kidney failure now COVID-19 positive? Why did they not quarantine his brother and Rev. Fr. Beltus who all along were by him although they tested negative at St. Blaise Hospital?” questioned a youth at the funeral.
Sensing foul play he said “… If Father tested positive, why lay him in state for Christians to view his mortal remains yet reject the corpse from going into the church? Why did Archbishop Nkea allow this to happen? Where were his fellow priests of the presbyterate?”
Prior to his death, Fr. Joseph Mbiydzenyuy had served as a priest for 37 years and also in many parishes and capacities in the Archdiocese of Bamenda and the Buea Diocese.
He was also the pioneer Principal of St. Paul’s Bilingual College, Bamenda.