“I discovered a Priest who showed great love”: Catholic Priest Who Died in Rome Eulogized at Burial in Cameroon

Bishop Sosthène Léopold Bayemi Matjei doing the final commendation during the Funeral Mass for late Fr. René Gaston Ayihi Tsimi on 22 April 2024. Credit: Obala Diocese

Fr. René Gaston Ayihi Tsimi, the late 31-year-old Cameroonian Catholic Priest, who died in Rome on April 8 manifested “great love” for God, the Church, and humanity, a Priest colleague has said. 

In his Monday, April 22 homily at the Funeral Mass of the late member of the Clergy of Cameroon’s Catholic Diocese of Obala, Fr. Alfonso recalled, “We had the opportunity to talk many times and in his way of speaking, in his conversations I discovered a Priest who showed great love for God, for the church, for his Bishop and for his colleagues.”

“We thank him for his dedication, his spirit of service, his availability, the interest he always took in doing good, particularly in transmitting the faith and love of Jesus Christ,” Fr. Alfonso said about his colleague at the Rome-based Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

Fr. Tsimi was “much loved and loved by God for his Priestly service,” he went on to say during the Funeral Mass at St. Anne’s Efok Parish of Obala Diocese ahead of the burial ceremony at the cemetery of pastoral agents.

Speaking during the April 22 celebrations, Fr. Parfait Ebode, a colleague of the late Catholic Priest in Obala Diocese recalled the health complications he endured with “great optimism”.


Fr. Tsimi was diagnosed with congenital hepatitis B back in 2014, Fr. Ebode said, and added, “After undergoing therapy for years, doctors declared Fr. Tsimi healthy in 2019.”

Since then, he remained of good health until February 2024 “when he had a serious stomach ache and decided to go for a checkup,” Fr. Ebode recalled.

“The results showed Fr. Tsimi had a giant tumour caused by a reactivation of hepatitis B,” he said, and added, “Given the extent of the tumour, doctors called for an emergency surgery, which was performed on February 19 and lasted more than six hours.”

In his April 22 homily, Fr. Alfonso recalled that some days after the surgery, the late Catholic Priest “sent me an audio saying he was very tired but with great optimism.”

The Italian-born Catholic Priest disclosed that “even in these circumstances he (Fr. Tsimi) celebrated Mass every day accompanied by someone in his room and that he was always very well accompanied by his colleagues from the Academy.”

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Born in July 1992 in Mbandjock in the Diocese of Obala, Fr. Tsimi, an alumni of Mary Queen of the Apostles Major Seminary, was ordained a Priest in August 2020.

The holder of a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome served as curate at Mary Admirable Mother Nkomotou Parish until July 2021, when he was appointed Deputy Chancellor of Obala Diocese, a position he held until his return to Rome. 

He was a holder of a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

“I think of Fr. Tsimi and I see him like this: He is small and big, he lived love to the end. He was only 4 years in the Priesthood, but he lived his passion by accepting the will of God,” Fr, Alfonso said in his Funeral Mass homily.

In fact, he continued, “when the doctors told him that nothing more could be done, he said that he was going to prepare for his death. We asked ourselves, we asked ourselves why this?  A young priest with all the qualities and on formation in the Pontifical Academy!”


Fr. Alfonso said that the day his colleague died was symbolic.

He explained, “Fr. Tsimi died on April 8, the day, this year, we celebrated the Annunciation of the Virgin and in addition, after having prayed with those who accompanied him the rosary for this, it is very easy to entrust our brother to the Most Holy Virgin, our mother who loved him and whom he loved so much.”

“Lord, we entrust our brother to you, introduce him into your paradise where there is no more mourning, neither sorrow nor pain but joy and peace with your Son and the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Adolfo implored.

On his part, the representative of the Holy Father in Cameroon, Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt presented the condolences of Pope Francis to the family of the late Catholic Priest and the people of God in Obala Diocese.

“We are edified by his openness to God, service to the church, to bear witness to his faith and even if he is gone from this world, we know that he is present in our memories, that his example serves us to go ever further in our faith and our testimony of the resurrected Christ,”  Archbishop Bettencourt said during the Eucharistic celebration that had Bishop Sosthène Léopold Bayemi Matjei of Obala Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Dassi Youfang of the Catholic Diocese of Bafia, and Bishop Marcellin-Marie Ndabnyemb of the Catholic Diocese of Batouri among the concelebrants.

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Bishop Bayemi thanked the Lord for the gift of the late Priest’s life.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.