On the rainy morning of Saturday, August 27th, 2022 four confreres were ordained to the priesthood and to the diaconate in the Vice Province of Nigeria. The crowd mirrored the scantily clouded skies as well as the robustness of emotions. Families, friends and collaborators, undeterred by the rain, joyfully participated in the colourful celebration that marked the end of many years of initial formation for some and for others the beginning of the end of the same.
The ordination was officiated by the Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese and former President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. In his homily, the Bishop urged the confreres to live up to the dignity of their office in disposition and example. He recognised their bravery in embracing the lifestyle of an endangered section of the society in Nigeria where kidnapping of priests and Religious have become a lucrative business venture. He, however, congratulated them for this choice as it holds promises beyond their imaginations.
It was a beautiful story of the intertwined journeys of the four young confreres that were ordained at the ceremony.
Frs. Sabinus Onuegbu and Lawrence Ekenze are both boys of St Anne’s Catholic Church, Ofeama/Umuezie, Aboh Mbaise, Imo state. They share deep ancestral and historical ties in the way the message of the gospel made its entrance into their village. Lawrence’s grandfather was King when the first missionary priests came to their village. He not only accommodated them but also gave them lands to establish the institutions that became the fruits of their missionary endeavour there. Sabinus would later leave the village for the minor Seminary while Lawrence only left the village for the University. Coincidentally both of them studied Economics at University even though they went to different schools. At the seminary of Saints Peter and Paul where they studied together and graduated Summa Cum Laude in both Philosophy and Theology. It will be a double celebration at St. Anne’s as both of them celebrate their thanksgiving masses at the same ceremony on Sunday, September 4th, 2022. They have both been posted to MaterDomini Community in Enugu as members of the Icon visitation team (the mission team responsible for spreading devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help in Nigeria).
Rev Deacons Collins Nwabuisi and Clement Uchenna Eze attended the same live-in experience. They eventually became classmates and their friendship turned into a strong Redemptorist fraternity in the Congregation. Six of them were admitted into the Congregation but only two of them persevered to this point. At the time of entry into the Congregation Clement had just graduated with a B.Sc in Physics education and Collins with a B.Sc in Social Works and Administration. Both of them have helped each other grow over the years. The writer of this article had the privilege of directing their final vows retreat and witnessed first-hand the ‘iron sharpening iron’ element in their companionship. They will spend the next year rounding up their initial academic formation while exercising their ministry of deacon at Redeemer house and at nearby communities.
We wish all four of them well in their Redemptorist journeys and ask for the intercessions of St. Monica on whose feast they were ordained as well as the help of St. Alphonsus in their journey of faith in the Congregation.
Fr. Godwin Abbah, CSsR