He “embodied the grace of God”: Tributes Pour in for Sierra Leonean Priest Who Overcame Stroke to Emerge Prolific Writer

Late Fr. Gabriel Luseni. Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

The Catholic Church in Sierra Leone is mourning the passing on of Fr. Gabriel Luseni, who influenced the West African nation’s political and social landscape through his writing.

The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Holy Ghost Fathers/Spiritans), who died on April 20 is to be laid to rest on May 1, according to information shared by the Spiritans in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In his tribute to Fr. Luseni, the President of Catholic Priests in Sierra Leone, Fr. Peter Konteh, described him as “a man who embodied the grace of God.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I write this tribute to a friend, a mentor, a spiritual guide, and a beacon of light, Reverend Father Gabriel Luseni,” Fr. Konteh said in his message on Thursday, April 25.

According to the Sierra Leonean Catholic Priest, who also serves as the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, Fr. Luseni was “a man who embodied the grace of God, the wisdom of the scriptures, and the compassion of Christ.”


“As a personal friend, as the President of the priests of Sierra Leone, and as the Vice President of the Priests of West Africa, I had the honor of witnessing Father Gabriel’s life of service, dedication, and perseverance,” he said.

The Holy Ghost Fathers announced that Fr. Luseni died “after a long struggle with an illness.”

Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

The Catholic Priest who previously served as the Provincial Superior of the Spiritans’ West African Province (WAP) spent many years in a wheelchair after he suffered a stroke that left his left side paralysed. 

He worked against many odds, especially ill health to become one of Sierra Leone’s most prolific writers.

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One of his latest books, “The Hurricane: The Story of Corruption and Accountability in Sierra Leone”, earned him recognition for his contribution towards the promotion of education in the West African country.

His other books that make the use of essays, poems, short stories, and other forms of literature, give a moving account of Sierra Leone’s darkest days of civil war and disease that ravished the country. 

The books further take readers through the country’s healing journey of blood, sweat and tears and speak to power on corruption, bad governance, and other ills that bedevil Sierra Leone. With his left side paralysed, Fr. Gabriel is known to have always typed manuscripts for his work on the computer using his right hand and sought help in other stages for publishing.

In his tribute, Fr. Konteh described Fr. Luseni as “an intellectual par excellence”, who acquired a Bachelor's Degree in Theology and a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Rome.

“His deep understanding of these subjects was not just academic, but was reflected in his day-to-day life, in every sermon he delivered, in every counselling session he held, and in every life he touched,” Fr. Konteh said, adding that between 1993 and 2004, Fr. Luseni imparted the wisdom of philosophy to numerous students.


“Father Gabriel nurtured young minds and shaped them with his knowledge and wisdom. His teachings continue to inspire generations and his legacy lives on in each life he influenced,” the member of Clergy of Sierra Leone’s Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown said.

Fr. Konteh said that despite being struck by health challenges “that would have deterred many”, Fr. Luseni remained undeterred. “His faith was unshakable, his hope was unwavering, and his spirit was unbreakable. His writings not only gave him joy but also gave hope and inspiration to many others who read them,” he said.

Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

“Today, we mourn the loss of a great mind, a great spirit, and a great man,” Fr. Konteh said, and expressed his solidarity with the Spiritans, saying, “Sierra Leone, Africa, and the Congregation of the Holy Spirit have indeed lost a shining star. Yet, we take solace in the fact that his light continues to shine brightly through his teachings, his writings, and his life’s work.”

In a separate tribute, Philip Byrne, a government official in Sierra Leone, described Fr. Luseni as a kind-hearted man.

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Byrne who works in Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance remembered his encounter with the late Catholic Priest while he himself was an Altar server.

 “I at one time requested Father Luseni to give me a ride to Bo (a city in Sierra Leone) and he answered, saying, ‘I have no problem giving you a ride to Bo but I have to spend some few days on the road, spending time in different places’. He concluded by saying that if it was fine by me, my lodging expenses along the way, for the three days would be on him. I consented and we embarked on the journey,” Byrne told ACI Africa on Thursday, April 25.

“During the journey we discussed like equals; it was then I came to realize that Fr. Luseni was very intelligent, a down-to-earth human and a soft-spoken Priest,” the Sierra Leonean government official said, and added, “I admired Rev.Fr. Gabriel Luseni very much for his decency, and his beard which was shaped like that of the image of Jesus Christ.”

The two interacted again at the burial of Archbishop Joseph Henry Ganda, Sierra Leone’s first native Bishop who died in August last year at the age of 91. This time, Fr. Luseni’s movement was limited to the use of a wheelchair. “I helped Father Luseni by pushing his wheelchair and he told me he needed to see the remains of the Archbishop. This wasn’t an easy task because he didn’t have his clutches with him and the only way was to lift him up since the casket was placed on a high table.”

“On lifting him up, he stretched out his hands and blessed the remains of the Emeritus Archbishop saying ‘My Lord Bishop, I bless you in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and may your soul rest in Peace’,” Byrne recalled.

Credit: ACI Africa

He expressed his sadness at the passing on of Fr. Luseni, adding that the Priest lived a full life and touched many lives. “He was a Priest and above all a Christian; a poet and a man of God with high moral standards,” Byrne said.

Fr. Luseni ministered in Nigeria for 11 years and proceeded to serve as Dean of Studies at the Spiritan Institute of Philosophy in Ghana after obtaining a Masters in Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. 

He later became Rector of the Spiritan Seminary and Institute of Philosophy at Ejisu in Ghana. After 11 years in Ghana, he was elected Provincial Superior of the West African Province (WAP).

It was after conducting a meeting in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), during his second term, that Fr. Gabriel suffered a stroke that put an end to a huge chunk of his public ministry and led him to writing.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.