Gentle Giant with a Giant Heart, Remembering Fr. Emmanuel Musara, OFM

Friar Emmanuel Musara OFM began his final journey to the presence of the God he so faithfully served on Tuesday May 2, 2017.

Emmanuel was currently serving as the Archdiocese of Harare Hospital Chaplain and was a former Custos of the Custody of the Good Shepherd Zimbabwe (chosen as Custos by the friars in Zimbabwe in 2007 – 10 years ago). He was many things to many people during his lifetime, but he is remembered primarily as a humble servant of God who faithfully served the people he encountered. Emmanuel’s gentle soul and his soaring spirit will now find peace and joy in The Eternal Presence. He was in good spirits when I last talked with him despite him not being well. My heart is hurting. This is very sad and a shocking situation

Death is a human reality that St Francis of Assisi embraced as his sister.

In the song which he wrote praising God for creation, St Francis added the line:

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will! The second death can do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks. And serve him with great humility.

St Francis saw Sister Death as a natural part of life through which we transition to continue our life with God. “Welcome, Sister Death!”

Death deprives the body of its life-giving soul, but it does not deny the reality of this life and its openness to the eternal presence of God. In welcoming death as our sister, we might serve as beacons of the Christian hope of new life and live the prophetic call of the Gospel, proclaiming “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

The death of Emmanuel, brings a void to all of us who valued his personal friendship and priestly ministry.

Baba Musara as he was fondly known was a wonderful and gifted priest who served with great care and compassion. Though he had been in declining health in recent months, his death was unexpected.

The first time I met Emmanuel it was like meeting a gentle giant. I am not talking in terms of his stature, which of course he came across as a giant, he was tall, heavy-set, broad shouldered rather I am talking about his heart.

He was loving, caring, and extremely generous. He had an amazing sense of humour, no matter how bad things got. The Franciscan Family will be much poorer because of his death, and I doubt we will see another like him for some time.

Emmanuel was courageous, wise, personally gracious, immensely hard working, and productive, both a role model and a support for the next generation of Friars. Wide in his sympathies, Emmanuel would do without himself and give to others. Even on his hospital bed he still ministered, truly a servant of the people. Away from the public eye Emmanuel made good use of Facebook and WhatsApp to encourage and uplift others. He had a heart of gold. His passing is a loss to us all.

Emmanuel served his people with honesty and integrity, humility and kindness. He knew his calling was to continue the mission of Jesus: “to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, set the downtrodden free…” (Luke 4:18).

Our God had better plans for him.

If the Good Lord had given him more time, he could have accomplished much more. However, this was not meant to be. It appears our God had better plans for him, a life of peace and rest in His eternal love and glory, another soul who will joyfully sing His praise. Goodbye Manu, all who knew and loved you will surely miss you for years to come. As they continue to live, you will never be forgotten to the end of time. You have done so much selflessly that in our hearts we know that your soul is resting in God’s peace and shining above. Until we meet with you at Jesus’s feet. As our life lasts, God knows we are doing our utmost to work at it. God bless your soul. May God be blest and praised in His angels and in his saints.

Emmanuel’s coffin contains a huge lifetime, because it touched lives, and it saved souls. Emmanuel loved being a priest. The priesthood is a great legacy of service to leave to the world. Emmanuel never took that lightly.

“I have waited for you and you have come.”

But alas, it was time. And Emmanuel passed from this life to the next. The gentle giant with a giant heart has rested. Hopefully he heard the words, “Hey Big Guy, I have waited for you and now you have come” just as St Pope John Paul II said in his last moments, “I have waited for you and you have come.” To our brother, priest, friend, Emmanuel, I say to you thank you for your life, an interesting life that allowed you to be a good priest of Jesus Christ. We pray that you may now be free of pain, free from illness, with the humility that God taught you in these last few months through illness, which is a humility that all of us should believe in and allow ourselves to be cared for by God and our sisters and brothers. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Pax et bonum.

Ashley D. Mwanza S.F.O
Good Shepherd Nhau/News
Zimbabwean Franciscan Mission Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 5 – May/July 2017