Vigil Mass: Late Bishop in Botswana Eulogized as Having “similar personalities, circumstances in life” as St. Matthias

The late Bishop Anthony Pascal Rebello, who was confirmed dead after collapsing during Holy Mass on 4 May 2024. Credit: SACBC

The late Bishop Anthony Pascal Rebello, who was confirmed dead after collapsing during Holy Mass on May 4 has been eulogized as having had similar traits as St. Mathias, the Apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.

In his homily during the Vigil Mass ahead of the burial of Bishop Rebello, who was the Local Ordinary of Botswana’s Catholic Diocese of Francistown, the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) called for openness to the will of God, drawing inspiration from St. Matthias and the late Bishop.

“Apart from sharing the fact that they are successors of the Apostles, it seems to me that St. Matthias and Bishop Rebello also share similar personalities and circumstances in life, and they could be interchangeably called Matthias and Rebello,” Bishop SithembeleSipuka said during the Tuesday, May 14 event that coincided with the Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle.

Bishop SithembeleSipuka. Credit: SACBC

Bishop Sipuka recalled “the unassuming and humble character of Bishop Rebello”, and favourably compared him with St. Matthias, who he said “was never heard of until the situation of finding a substitute for Judas arose and is mentioned for the first and the last time in the text of today’s first reading.”


Just like St. Matthias might not have had the thought of becoming one of the 12 Apostles, Bishop Rebello had not entertained the idea of becoming a Bishop, the Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Mthathaobserved.

From the inspiring lives of St. Matthias and Bishop Rebello, God makes things happen in His own design, Bishop Sipukafurther observed, adding that “often in life, things don’t turn out as planned.”

Credit: SACBC

“In any profession or vocation, the circumstances of our lives in our later years are far different from what we had projected when we were young,” he said, and continued, “People have images of the ideal marriage, the ideal family, and the ideal job, and things don’t turn out as we plan.”

The President of SACBC urged the people of God to draw inspiration from St. Matthias and Bishop Rebello to embrace God’s call, including that that call entails.

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“Things happen that we don’t expect, but slowly, God’s will start to become apparent to us, as it did for St Matthias and Bishop Rebello,” he said, and added, “The message is to follow the call as it comes when it comes, regardless of how it comes and where it leads and in ways we least expect.”

Credit: SACBC

“The main thing is to remain with Jesus whether your task is to be one of the 120 or one of the 12,” the 64-year-old Bishop, who has been at the helm of the Southern African Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in May 2008 said during the Vigil Mass of the late Bishop Rebello.

A member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), Bishop Rebello was born in Kenya, and had turned 74 on March 18.He was ordained SVD Priest in May 1977.

Credit: SACBC


The late Catholic Bishop was among the three pioneers of SVD members in Kenya in 1984; they opened their first mission in Kayole in Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi and later, Galba Tulla mission in the country’s Catholic Diocese of Meru.

An alumnus of the Rome-based Pontifical Gregorian University, Bishop Rebello previously served as the Provincial Superior of the SVD in Kenya and Parish Vicar in Angola.

Credit: SACBC

Before he was appointed Bishop of Francistown Diocese in July 2021, he served as the Parish Priest of Holy Cross Mogoditshane Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Gaborone in Botswana. 

In his May 14 homily, Bishop Sipuka also reflected on the late Bishop’s Priestly and Episcopal ministry, saying, “He strived to remain in the Lord and help others to remain in the Lord.”

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Credit: SACBC

The late Bishop, he said, spent his life “trying to bring others to friendship with Christ, leading them to experience Christ as loving and supporting them.”

“Remaining in Jesus, loving one another, and bearing fruit are the three essential things about being a follower of Jesus, whether one is one of the 12 or a member of the larger group of Jesus’ followers,” Bishop Sipuka said during the May 14 Vigil Mass of the Kenyan-born Bishop of Indian origin.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.