By Vivian Onyebukwa
St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Ajao Estate, Lagos, was agog recently as six priests were ordained by the Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins. They include Odozi Joseph, Ekoja Michael, Izebuno Stephen, Inegbeneboh Theophilus, Aniebue Boniface and Mmadu Chibueze John.
Those present at the event include His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, numerous Reverend Fathers, Reverend Sisters, members of the knighthood, different Catholic church organisations, family members of the ordained priests, friends and well-wishers.
Speaking at the ordination, Archbishop Martins urged the newly ordained priest to teach the doctrine that will nourish the people of God. He said: “Let the doctrine you teach be the nourishment for the people of God. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church. In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate”.
The archbishop further advised the new priests to recognise the fact that they have been given a grace that not many people have and should guard the dignity of the priesthood with everything that they have.
“They should be faithful to the work which they have committed themselves to, which is to be available for the people all the time, and take time to prepare in other to minister to the people appropriately,” he said.
On the spate of insecurity in the country, the archbishop blamed government for not doing enough in securing the lives and property of the people: “Honestly, if there is one issue that is the main issue of Nigeria, it is issue of insecurity. I think that our government is not doing enough. The President is not doing enough.”
He also urged government to be more serious in securing the people and finding a lasting solution to insecurity in Nigeria. He said: “We need to pray for those in some parts of the country and the world who face the challenges of insecurity, especially in Nigeria.
“We should also challenge those in government who have the responsibility to do more and ensure that they protect the people.
“Under the watch of President Buhari, things have gone worse in Nigeria. On the one hand, they are saying protect yourself, yet they are arresting people who are doing something to protect themselves. They should simply resign, if they cannot do the job, than making excuses.”
He, therefore, advised the government to ensure that those who commit offence are arrested and prosecuted.
The arch bishop equally recognised the role of the church in the development of the nation. According to him, the church has a major role to play in nation building in sensitising people for the need of good citizenship. “The church has role to play by speaking out to those who have a responsibility of governance where they find things are not right, and also sensitising the people in the grassroots.”
Rev. Father Boniface Aniebue, one of the new priests, while giving gratitude to God for their accomplishment, attributed it to prayer. He said: “We are able to accomplish this day with prayer. Believe that with prayer all things are possible. Prayer is also why we are called. We are called only by His grace.”
Pius Odozi, father of Joseph Odozi, one of the consecrated priests, expressed his happiness over the event and said: “I’m really overwhelmed. I have been looking forward to this day.”
On why he allowed his son to become a priest, he said: “The vocation is a prophetic call between the person called and the caller, so no human being should be an obstacle to it”