By Francis Onyeukwu
Eleven young Catholics, among them a former member of staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), were on Saturday in Owerri ordained priests and deacons.
The four newly ordained priests are: Rev. Fr. Kenneth Kanwa, Rev. Fr. Maximus Okorie, Rev. Fr. Kenneth Nnawuihe and Rev. Fr. Desmond Opara.
Those ordained deacons are: Rev. Henry Ekwems, Leka-Ire Mario (Ghanaian), Rev. Mary Paul Onele (ex-staff of NAN), his twin brother Rev.Peter Mary Onele, Rev. Valentine Orazulume, Nnaemeka Manu, and Emmanuel Iheme.
Most Rev. Hilary Dachelem, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Bauchi, who performed the ordination, described the event as ”a double barrel history,” for the Clarentian Missionaries, formed since 1849 in Spain, by Rev. Fr. Anthony Mary Claret.
“The diaconate ordination of Mary Paul Onele and Peter Mary Onele today is the first time the Claretian Missionaries will ordain twins, while Rev. Henry Ekwems, Leka-Ire Mario became the first Ghanaian to be ordained since Clarentian was formed,’’ he said.
Dachelem reminded the young priests and deacons of the sacredness of the priestly institution and their expected roles.
“Priestly vocation is altar centred; you must be committed to the sacraments, be prayerful, obedient, humble, available, honest and accountable.
“The priestly ritual performed on you here today is not for fancy, you now have the powers of Jesus Christ in you, and you must use it to bless the people and not to curse them’’, he said.
He warned them against wrong application of the knowledge of philosophy which they acquired in the course of their formation, adding “why you studied philosophy is not to challenge the authorities.’’
Mr Sunday Onele, an uncle to Mary Paul and Mary Peter, said the members of Onele family, people of Abakaliki and entire Ebonyi people, were grateful to God for the ordination of their sons and brother as deacons.
Mr Paul Okoro, relative of Rev. Fr. Desmond Opara, and Prof. Richard Ehiri relative of Rev. Fr. Maximus Okorie, in separate interviews said they were happy that their brothers had made it to the end of their journey to priesthood and prayed God to fortify them.
NAN reports that the ordination held at St. Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Parish, New Area `A,’ New Owerri by Claretian Missionaries, East Nigeria Province, was attended by more than 400 priests and hundreds of Catholic faithful.
Rev. Mary Paul Onele, a native of Nkaliki, in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, was engaged as a junior staff in the Abakaliki office of the NAN, from where he resigned and joined seminary school with his twin brother Mary Peter Onele in 2008.