-Bishop Onaga urges for stronger dedication to the priestly vocation
By Chikezie Ogbonna
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu on Saturday 18th December 2021 ordained new priests for the diocese.
The ordination mass which took place at St. Mary Parish, Udi had in attendance the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo as well as the Bishop Emeritus, Most Rev. Anthony Gbuji.
Speaking on the Theme: Sharing in the Priesthood of Christ, Bishop Onaga in his homily charged the newly ordained to stand strong and ensure at all times that they live true to the vows and principles of the Catholic priesthood. While reminding them of the very significance of the priesthood, His Lordship urged them to espouse the very tenets of their vocation at all times and at every moment.
“We thank God so much for seeing this young men through, for giving them to us and allowing them to share in Christ’s priesthood.
“At least they spent 15 years in the seminary training, it has not been easy. Full of tension and expectation, but, God has made it possible for them to have been here.
“They have withered the storm of seminary training. They are being called to share in the priesthood of Christ.
“The priest is always a sacred person, a lot of sanctity is required to become a good priest”, His Lordship reaffirmed.
Having compared the priesthood in the Old testament and the New Testament, his Lordship noted that things changed as Jesus Christ came. “ Jesus Christ became the victim and the priest at the same time”, he said.
Describing the very tenets of the priesthood as enshrined in the person of Jesus Christ, His Lordship said,
“Jesus is the true priest according to the order of Melchizedek and that is the priesthood we have inherited today, the Church has inherited too.
“Jesus Christ not only came to heal the world but sacrificed his life. He didn’t wait for someone to protect him, but he protected the people.
“The priesthood is the priesthood of Christ, who sacrificed himself for the Salvation of the whole world.
“And then, Jesus made it possible for us through baptism, which makes us all priests in Christ.
“We are sharing in the priesthood of Christ. We are doing it according to the mind of Christ.
“The sacrament you shall celebrate and the word you shall preach all belong to Christ. It belongs to Church and the Church belongs to Christ. We are doing it according to the person who has it, Christ Jesus.
“That is why it is difficult and should be difficult for a Catholic priest to curse anybody. We are preaching liberation, life eternal and not condemnation.
Bishop Onaga further reminded the newly ordained priests of the three cardinal objective they should consciously imbibe on. According to His Lordship, every priest should understand that they are representing Christ, they are doing it in the name of the Church, Catholic Church and should do it according to directives of the body of Christ which is the Church.
“Therefore since it is a sacred function, we must be pure and clean while discharging that function. We are doing it for our own salvation and for the Salvation of the people of God.
“We are doing it to honour God and not ourselves. It is God that takes the glory. It is God who is doing it through us. Therefore hide yourself, hide your personality”, His Lordship admonished.
His Lordship further reminded them of their vows. While He wished them a wonderful priesthood, he urged them to live true to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
“Remember your primary functions, teach the people. Teach them the mind of Christ. Then, love one another. Preach love and not hatred.
“Do the ones you can do. Lastly, be a prophet. Be a prophet to help people to grow, keep the words of encouragement… Say the truth always…
“Guard your vacation jealously, let your actions speak volumes and let your conduct reflect your calling as a priest”, His Lordship charged.
The 2021 priestly ordination saw 23 candidates initiated into the order of the Roman Catholic Priesthood. The event witnessed the convergence of priests, the religious and the faithful.