By Njideka Eze
Joaquin de Cabanyes Trevo , known in Spain as Quino and in Nigeria as Fr. Joachim Okechukwu Cabanyes was born in Madrid , Spain on November 29th, 1957. He was ordained a priest of the Prelate order of Opus Dei by Pope Saint John Paul II in St Peter’s Basilica , in Vatican on June 2, 1985.
In a requiem mass presided over by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Callistus V.C Onaga, he described Fr. Joachim as a dedicated Pastor who is committed to brotherhood of the priesthood. ‘He was always present in our meetings , recollections and celebrations. Fr. Joachim became so in love with Nigeria that he decided to naturalize, a process he began before his demise. His Lordship concluded.
In his homily, Rev. Fr. Boniface OKafor who is the Spiritual Director of Opus Dei prelate said Fr. Joachim was a Priest who was so dedicated to the service of God and Man. He took pleasure in celebrating Masses, hearing confessions and was always ready to help where needed. Continuing, the homilist advised all to get prepared because death comes when we least expected it.
The Auxilliary Bishop, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo recounted how he felt when Fr. Joachim broke the news of his positive COVID-19 status. He said he consoled him and assured him of his prayerful support, while teasing him that since he would be in Isolation for 14 days, it would be a good time for rest, not knowing he would never make it alive. Bishop Obodo said that Fr. Joachim was his spiritual director and good friend and would miss him greatly.
According to the assistant Diocesan Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Igwesi, he was such a nice , easy going , cordial, generous , prayerful and a dedicated pastor. Though he hailed from Spain but loved Nigerians so much and was always on ground to attend Dioeces functions.
While recounting some personal experiences with Fr. Joachim, the Director of Communications, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi has this to say,
“I got to know Fr Joachim Cabanyes a couple of years before my ordination to the priesthood but we got all the more closer shortly after my ordination 13 years ago.
Fr Joachim, without any fear of contradiction, has been a serious source of inspiration to me as I believe he is to many other of my brother priests. He represented for me the ideals of what a priest should be: gentle, calm, calculated, deeply spiritual yet very cordial in his relationship with fellow priests and indeed with all and sundry.
Of all the expatriates that have worked in our midst, I don’t know of any other that has been so close to fellow priests: always present in all liturgical ceremonies, meetings and virtually every other gathering involving priests.
He was such an amiable fellow. On a personal level, he was such a friend and showed me so much love especially in my difficult times. For instance, when sometime in November 2015, I was involved in an auto crash that left me with a fractured arm, he sprang a big surprise when he happened to be the first priest to visit my home to see me. Before then, he never knew my house but he kept making enquiries until he got to my residence.
And he would readily do this for anyone. It was in his person. I’m grateful to God to have made my path cross with that of this holy priest and I’ll forever cherish the memories of our years of contact and friendship, Fr Achi concluded .
In a tribute by Dr. Innocentia who attended to Fr. Joachim at UNTH COVID 19 Isolation centre, he observed that Fr. Joachim was never laid down on his sick bed , he sat down from the day he was admitted until the day he gave up the ghost. Continuing, Dr. Innocentia said he was always with his rosary and only dropped it when he was attended to . He always wore a smiling face.
Clad in their white vestments, priests in their numbers witnessed the requiem mass.
Fr. Joachim left behind, an aged mother, two brothers and two sisters
May God rest his soul.