Sponsoring a Future Priest in Ekwulobiaand Awka Dioceses: A Pastoral Necessity.

Introduction :In his message for the 53rd World Day of Prayers for Vocations, the Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis stated, ‘I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations ‘.The Pope by this fraternal call was re-echoing the appeal of Paul, the Apostle to the Church in Rome when he urged them thus ‘ Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,

let us use them : if prophecy, in proportion to our faith, if service, in our serving : the one who teaches, in his teaching.. (Rom. 12:6-7) Christians and especially Catholics should therefore renew their thinking and doing on the basis of faith. We have to accept God’s gifts freely bestowed on us and use them to contribute to the growth of the community of faith.

The Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia and Awka led by her Bishop, Most Rev. Peter Ebere Okpaleke and Most Rev. P.C. Ezeokafor are offering the entire diocesean families and all men of goodwill from all over the world an opportunity to use their God given gifts to make a difference in the diocese and the universal church by supporting seminary education of young men who have already received the call to priesthood and by so doing aid in securing the stability of the new diocese of Ekwulobia and by extension the universal Catholic Church.

Need for Sponsorship of Seminarians to the Catholic Priesthood.

One of the most challenging concerns of any diocesan bishop is the ability to source enough funds to pay for his seminarians during their long formative years leading up to priestly ordination.

His Lordship, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke and his Awka diocesan counterpart, Most Rev. P.C Ezeokafor  are definitely seeking ways to tackle this problem especially now that foreign grants are no longer feasible. Resort to indigenous sponsorship of seminarians is the alternative.

Young men are ready to respond with a generous yes to God’s call in their lives but in most cases poverty and lack of needed resources oftentimes becomes a barrier. Christian faithful using their divinely endowed gifts can play a critical role in making their dream of becoming a Catholic priest a reality.

Let’s remember that the Catholic Priesthood is an extraordinary vocation. It’s the vocation of the priest to preach the gospel in words and actions, he teaches the Catholic faith at all times.

He leads God’s people in love as a Shepherd and Spiritual Father. He celebrates the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharistic for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people. Your donations no matter how little will help in the formation of a priest who could equally be part of your family.

You may have nursed the idea of your son becoming a priest or you do not have a son to become one at all? When you sponsor a seminarian to the priesthood, he can become your son priest.

Cost Implications and Modes of Sponsorship.

At the moment the cost of sponsoring a seminarian in the catholic priesthood in Awka diocese is N750,000 subject to review.

The diocesan bishop CADEK in a recent speech during the Ekwulobia diocesan presbyterium plenary meeting stated that the sum amount of one million, five hundred thousand naira only (#1,500,000) is the money to be paid for now as payment for the full sponsorship of a seminarian to the Catholic Priesthood in the diocese.

Caritas International, an approved organization handling funds for sponsorship of seminarians noted in their website that it costs about two thousand dollars to pay for a year of formation for a seminarian in the developing world. Using the current exchange rate of #350 or #460 to the dollar you can see that the amount the diocese is asking for at the moment is considerably very moderate.

This amount will cover such expenses like feeding, tuition, remuneration and upkeep of formators, provision of basic amenities like good water, light, decent environment for effective intellectual and spiritual formation amongst others. The payment can be made in full or instalmentally spread over a period of years.

Modes of Sponsorship

You can sponsor a seminarian individually, as family, a community, as a group or even at parish level. I was sponsored by the Catholic Women Organization of Christ the King Parish, Adazi Nnukwu. Rev. Anthony Ikechukwu Nwankwo, one of the three deacons to be ordained priests for the first time ever in the new diocese was sponsored by Mr Anayo Osunkwo from St Patrick’s parish, Obiuno -Igboukwu. It’s my prayers that you become one of our diocesean sponsor of priests.

Final Words

When you sponsor a seminarian to the Catholic priesthood, you are definitely helping in the building of the church of tomorrow, today. You would have by doing so assumed responsibility in taking care of vocations as Pope Francis urged us all. The time of doing this noble work for the propagation of the gospel is now. You can do that. We can.

By Kizito Chukwunonso Umennadi, Rev. Fr.Communication Department, Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia.

POEM

This Life, Oh Life

Yes,

Life, full of ups and downs.

Riddled with many moans and thorns.

Uncertainty daily beckons in turn.

Yet,

Life is full of fun and good.

With Author of the Holy Book.

When His Kingdom, we cast our look

Yes,

We strive to live His Life.

Though in thorns and sorrows strife.

We shall smile in His glorious Life.

By Umennadi Kizito Chukwunonso. Rev. Fr.

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