By Uche Amunike
The man I write about is one of the most interesting priests I've been opportuned to come across. I didn't know him from Adam until I joined the employ of Fides. He is one of our columnists here in Fides and his column is named, 'Wit's Corner'. If you are wondering why I described him as 'interesting', then you had better go and read his articles on 'Wit's Corner'. His style is really comic but his notes are full of lessons. I edit his column regularly and can't even begin to count how many times I have had to laugh out loud while reading them. Fr Chukwuma Amobi is his name and as I was going through his article in our last edition, I came across the piece of information that he was to celebrate his silver jubilee in the priesthood. I therefore decided to get him to tell his story about the journey so far as a worker in the Lord's vineyard in the past twenty five years. It's my little way of showing him how much I appreciate him for who he is and all he stands for. It is also my little gift to him as a daughter, sister and friend. Please hear him out…
Let's meet you. Who is Fr Chukwuma Amobi?
I am a catholic priest of the Awka Diocese. A native of Aguluezechukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am currently the parish priest of St James Parish, Neni.
So, tell us what it has been like so far in the last twenty five years.
Indeed, it is not an easy road. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. While in the seminary, we theorize. But in the practical field, we practicalize.
What are your most fulfilling moments in the priesthood?
It was on my ordination on September 5th, 1993. At St Peter's Catholic Church, Aguluezechukwu, my home town. I was also fulfilled after obtaining my Masters Degree in Theology in Germany. I came back happy even though some were criticizing me for not pursuing my doctorate by all means. My candid answer was that it was better to return home happily with Masters than to come back with Doctorate in a casket.
And your challenging moments?
My challenging moment was when I fought neo-paganism when I was the Cathedral Administrator. By the Grace of God, truth triumphed over falsehood. Light conquered darkness.
Do you have any mentors in the priesthood? Who are they and how have they impacted your life?
Jesus Christ is my Mentor. I promised not to disappoint him and his people despite my imperfections.
You are a regular columnist in Fides and your column is really comic and yet inspirational. What motivates you to keep it going every week?
Yes. I got the inspiration to write because I was born a wise fool on 1st day of April, 1963. In my seminary days I used to write and deliver comic news at occasions. It is God who motivates me to write weekly. I just hold my pen while the thoughts flow from above.
Do you have any regrets about your vocation?
I have no regrets about my vocation as a Catholic priest.
If there is reincarnation, I will be a priest again.
What's your take on the issue of dust-to-dust rites that have been a matter of great controversy in our diocese?
The dust to dust rite is a final act of love shown to a beloved deceased one. But some enemies of the Church from within and without have politicized it. It ought not to be controversial because the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended, spells out freedom of Religion and Practice. The Federal High Court sitting at Awka in 2013 declared that the Catholic Church in Awka Diocese has the right to perform the dust to dust rite of her departed faithful member without molestation from anybody whatsoever and whosoever.
Do you think it is the right time for an Igbo man to vie for the presidential seat, come 2023?
Since the unfortunate Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, Ndigbo have been marginalized in governance. The Igbos should speak with one voice in order to regain their rightful position. With God on our side, Ndigbo will achieve the presidential bid sooner or later.
Nigeria's independence is a few weeks from now. What's your Silver Jubilee message to Nigerians?
I was born 3 years after the Independence. We have not been truly been independent because, Monkey dey work while baboon dey chop. Bad leadership is our problem. Corruption is still roaming about the streets and dwelling in the three Arms of Government. The present fight against Corruption is political. As we pray for God's intervention in our polity, justice must prevail at all levels.
Finally, are there people you want to thank for the parts they have played in your life as a priest in the past twenty five years? Who are they? Please speak to them from your heart?
I thank the late Archbishop Albert Obiefuna, late Bishop Simon Okafor, incumbent Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor and Auxiliary bishop Jonas Benson Okoye, Bishop Peter Okpaleke, Monsignor Martin Ezeokoli, my parents, siblings, friends and well-wishers.
Thank you, Padre and Congratulations once again.