By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
An Umuahia Diocesan priest, Rev Fr Norbert Ugwa, has described the priesthood as the most special and greatest of all the gifts which a new priest received on his ordination.
Rev Fr Ugwa, who stated this in his homily of the First Solemn Thanksgiving Mass of the 13th Ogbunka indigenous priest, Rev Fr Emmanuel Ogadimma Okoro, at St Monica’s Catholic Church, Ogbunka, Anambra State, last Sunday, July 5, urged the new priest to uphold the dignity of the special gift of priesthood which he received.
The homilist, who based his homily on the theme: ”The Priesthood, a Special Gift”, observed that at the prayer of the Litany of Saints and the prayer of Consecration during the priestly ordination rites, the ordinand was transformed into a new person and a priest, who the spirit of Christ rested upon in accordance with the word of God in Isaiah Chapter 61:1-3.
He enjoined the new priest to at every point of the challenges and difficulties he would encounter in his priesthood, embrace God for the needed rest according to the gospel of Matthew Chapter 11:28.
Rev Fr Ugwa, who is the 12th indigenous priest of Ogbunka, described the priesthood as a sacrament, and urged the new priest not to overshadow the Christ in him, but instead, to at all times reflect Jesus Christ who he represented.
Pointing out that the priest was not his own, the homilist charged the new priest to focus on God, who, he said, the priest served; carry out his priestly duties with commitment and attach importance to the Sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as expected of the priest which he had become.
The homilist, who also stressed the importance of prayer, charged the new priest not to neglect prayers, but instead strengthen himself with constant prayers in the course of his priestly vocation.
The homilist, who further based his reflections on the gospel of Matthew Chapter 13, urged the priest to while he continued to serve the people of God, also listen to and evaluate himself with what people said about him, noting that such might help him to excel in the vocation.
This was even as he warned the priest against paying attention to all that the people said about him, as according to him, he would not be able to please all of them.
‘Do not fear anybody. Hold on to God and carry out your duties well at all times. Treasure the altar from which you pray and liberate the people of God. You must also take good care of yourself and rest as and when due lest you breakdown in the course of the priestly apostolate,’ Fr Ugwa advised the new priest.