The 11th Priestly/Diaconate ordinations of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary (OMV) in Nigeria took place at the Catholic Church of Ascension, Bodija. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on the 1st August, 2020. The Holy Mass which started as scheduled (10:00am) was presided over by the ordaining prelate, His Grace, Most Rev. Gabriel ’Leke Abegunrin, the Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan with the strict observance of the Archdiocesan’s guidelines on COVID-9 following the directives of the State Government and NCDC. Upon the calling and the presentation of the candidates, the Archbishop elected them for the ordinations. In his incorporated homily, the Archbishop addressing the candidates for the ordinations (Diaconate and Priestly) said that no one chose himself to be ordained; it is the Lord who calls each person by name to the various clerical states. He stated that the first step to becoming a cleric is the order of the diaconate, that to be a deacon is to serve. It means that such a person is been ordained to serve and he performs his ministry in every liturgical and community gathering. His duty is not limited to the reading of the Gospel, he is to equally take the Holy Communion to the sick and other laid down functions allotted to him by the authorities of the Church. In other words, the deacon is a servant and a slave not just to anybody but to Christ himself. His mission is to serve and when the deacon serves so well, he will move to the next stage of the clerical state (the priesthood). However, the work of service is not just limited to the diaconate state, it extends to the priesthood and a priest must be closer to the needy and to all people of God, he (the priest) must go out to look for them in order to serve them. The priest is a person who has left everything to follow and serve Christ in the needy. He is not the bread-winner of his family but must be available to them in prayers. That, notwithstanding, the archbishop challenged the ordinands to always try their best to protect their names, the name of their families and that of the Church. Furthermore, he said that the name of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary must the upheld and maintained as that of their families. He admonished them not to allow their names to be soiled with filthy activities. And being men of prayer, they are not to parade themselves as the ultimate because they are just servants. Speaking further, the archbishop reiterated that a priest is chosen to serve anywhere there is need and they are not to negotiate their assignments because the vow of obedience makes them to be available to be sent to wherever the Congregation deems fit. Before concluding his homily, the archbishop requested the lay faithful to always pray for their priests and give them (their priests) necessary support to carry out their sacred ministry.
On their part, the candidates for the priesthood made five promises after that of the diaconate: to discharge the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral rank as worthy fellow workers with the Order of Bishops; to exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith; to celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ handed down by the Church, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people; to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to their care by observing the command to pray without ceasing; and to be united more closely everyday to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice and to consecrate themselves to God for the salvation of all.
Due to the COVID-19 regulations, the attendance was restricted to the limited number of about 400, including priests/ religious, family members and Associates of the OMV (AOMV) in Nigeria. Even though, the COVID-19 directives forbid us from having any form of social gathering in Nigeria, guided by the regulations, there was a well-packed meal and drinks for all those who attended the ceremony apart from the closed relatives of the ordinands who entertained briefly at the formation house. In spite of all, the ceremony was adjudged to be successful by all as the ordinands expressed their gratitude to God, their formators, the Congregation and to all those who attended the ceremony without forgetting those who helped them to answer the call of God. The candidates for the priesthood were; Rev. Gabriel Jonah Adanu, OMV and Rev. Luka Joshua Mazadu Kaje, OMV while brother Kelvin Ikenna Nwune, OMV was raised to the order of diaconate.
Fr Oviemuno I. Obi, OMVDirector of Communications, Nigeria Delegation
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