By Chinecherem Efobi
About 1974, five years before his death, Arch bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a book titled: “Those Mysterious Priests”. It was a spiritual classic that explored the dual nature of Priests as both human and Divine. Among other topics discussed, the book invites the priest to be a victim in living out the salvific mystery of Jesus.
The above is the background to the title of this piece: ‘Those Powerful Priests’, as I reflect on the anniversary celebrations as priests these last weeks.
Barely 24 hours after my ordination, precisely late hours of 23rd August 2009, I had a unique encounter. An uncle and brother called for me. Weakened by the day’s events ( First Mass and other celebrations), I staggered out and obliged him. Then he said to me : ‘if your priesthood is not akin to the likes of powerful miracle working priests, then it’s all in vain”. He did mention an example, which I wouldn’t want to state here. I was stunned but had to put up with the situation. Mildly, I thanked him with a ‘forced’ smile, and retired for the night.
Who are those Powerful Priests? Who are your ideal priests? What do you know Jesus Christ for? What was Peter’s confession about him at Ceasarea Philippi?
As you search for ‘Fada siri ike’ and Fada di ike ekpere’ What is your “thermometer” of measure? Reading through the scriptures, could that be Christ yardstick for identifying His true followers?
Today, I was at St Michael’s Agbiligba Nanka, where Fr Philip Okoye wows everyone with formation of young ones via Agriculture. It reminds of Fr Sab Anokwulu and Masdevan Farm. I am a student of Fr Kevin Ugwu who regardless of working as a missionary in Malawi, has remained a global tutor, enlightening many on the path of truth and life through the social media. The same, goes for Fr Chinenye Uloma etc.
Last week, Fr Nwajagu Hilary buried the mum, and ex students of Loretto where he served for eight years ‘forced’ themselves into the burial organising committee. The same applies to many priests who are like the ‘Tagbos’ and ‘Ikemes’ of the 70’s/80’s, emptying themselves for the greater good of their students.
What about the pastoral availability of the likes of Fr Willie Ozulonye. This also goes to numerous priests who by their simple life style have remained ‘Kings, Prophets and Priests to their local Christian communities What about the likes of Fr John Nwankwor, Fr Evaristus Abu, who through reflected homilies feed multitude of souls through the pulpit and social media every day.
In 2009 a priest joined a legion praesidium for prayers as a chaplain. At the end, the president thanked him for coming but expressed surprise. According to him, he had not seen a priest being with them since the last five years. As little as that pastoral presence was, before smaller christian communities like the Block Rosary centre, makes a huge difference.
Those Powerful Priests are all the priests who with dedication and pastoral passion keep touching lives every where they find themselves.
What makes a priest ‘powerful’ is not restricted to ” leading a praying ministry”. The priest is ‘powerful’ as long as he participates in “persona Christi” with required devotion and dedication in the Paschal mystery of Christ. The ‘powerful’ priests are found every where: in parishes, in schools both as administrators, teachers and students. They are found in hospitals and organisations where they serve as managers of temporal goods of the Church.
It is that easy to identify them and pray for them, even as you seek their assistance for they are close to you. As you get set to board a flight in search of a ‘powerful’ priest, be sure one may be right there beside you.
Pray for those ‘Powerful’ Priests, and wish them well. They are unsung heros of the Church and Society.
Happy Anniversary to all, as you struggle with sincere intention, and with all your might to serve humanity.