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Apostolic Movement

Four New Schoenstatt Fathers in Nigeria

Okpala Michael I.

The 1963 statement of Fr. Kentenich seems to capture the event of the 25th of June, 2022.

All roads led to the Schoenstatt Fathers Community in Ijokodo, Ibadan, Nigeria

All roads led to the Schoenstatt Fathers Community in Ijokodo, Ibadan, Nigeria for the priestly ordination of the four members of the course, Manifestatio Misericordis Patris.  Their names are:  Frs. Emmanuel E. Okeke, Stanley I. Ukasoanya, John O. Obute, and Cyprian A. Avong. The Holy Mass began at about 10:05 am and was presided by Most. Rev. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and specialized institutions in Geneva, Switzerland.

During the homily, Bishop Most. Rev. Fortunatus Nwachukwu began by reminding all Christians gathered, of the prestigious dignity of the priesthood which we have all received by our baptism and our consequent incorporation into the church as Christians, (1 Pet. 2:9). He then spoke of the missionary and pastoral dimensions of the mission entrusted to the church, emphasizing the mission of incorporation into the Christ and the mission of fidelity to authority in the pursuit of this mission. Addressing the future priests, he exhorted them to bear the following in mind.

First, to remember the question of God to Elijah in the cave in 1 Kgs. 19:9, “what are you doing here?”

Second, he reminded them of the New Testament related with the first question, taken from Jesus to his disciples in Jn. 1:38, namely, “what are you looking for?”

If you always bear these questions in mind and try to daily give answers to them, you will grow in fidelity, loyalty and steadfastness to the vocation you have embraced today.

After clarifying the two questions, Bishop Most. Rev. Fortunatus Nwachukwu taught that the question by Jesus to his disciples in Jn. 1:38 was replied with a question and later answered by Jesus with the words, ‘come and see.’ The disciples came, saw and remained with Jesus. Seeing, going to and remaining with Jesus, can be possible when we let his words remain in us, Jn. 15:7. Hence, your lives, he told the future priests, must be lived around, oriented to and configured to the word of Jesus.

This word of Jesus is triadic, word about Jesus, word with Jesus and word that is Jesus. Reflecting on this three-dimensional word of Jesus, he reflected on the journey of two disciples to Emmaus in Lk. 24:13-35. These disciples, talked about Jesus, then conversed with Jesus, and finally encountered Jesus in the breaking of bread.

The Bishop encouraged the future priests to strive to model their conversations around Jesus discourse because he draws us close to him whenever his name is pronounced. These conversations lead to a conversation with Jesus, a dialogical encounter in prayer. The conversations then prepare us for an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. In this Eucharist, our eyes are opened and re-ordered to its pristine, natural ordination of focus on God, recti-aligning the distortion of focus on the self that sin initiated in Gen. 3:7.

The Bishop re-echoed Fr. Kentenich’s (11-3-1963 and 2- 7-1965) image of the priest as a bridge-builder. He encouraged the future priests to never forget that bridge-builders must be angels with human feet. They must recognize their fallibility and their essential need to be in constant touch with the divine. If any is missing, you are no longer a bridge, he said. Like Fr. Kentenich, bridge-builders are those who have their hands on the pulse of time and their ears on the heart of God.

Concluding, the Bishop also taught that this ordination bequeaths a new identity on the future priests which must be worn with pride and in responsibility. Citing 2 Cor. 5:17, Rev. 21:5, he told them that a new phase has been ushered into their lives.

This new phase is to be lived more with actions than words. “Be the change you wish to see”, said Mahatma Gandhi. A crucial area where that change and newness is to be experienced, is in a renewed catholic mentality of all-inclusiveness, like Melchizedek in Heb. 7:3 who had no genealogy but is just son of God. Embracing ethnocentrisms is a betrayal of this title, the bishop reminded them. You are to lead all to Christ without discrimination.

Turning to the families, friends and lay-faithful, the Bishop encouraged all to help these priests to be human and prayerful, to pray for them, correct them, advise them and call them to order when they are mistaken.

Imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration

At about 12:00 pm, with the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, our four brothers became priests to the glory of God and the honor of our dear MTA. With our new four Priests, we are now thirty-three Nigerian Schoenstatt Fathers.

Present were, Frs. Kingsley Okereke (Delegate Superior), Charles Ozioko (Rector of Students), Herbert Opara (Novice Master), other Schoenstatt Fathers and many other priests from within Nigeria along with friends, family members, students, and well-wishers.

It was a joyful celebration.

Long live the MTA!

Long live Schoenstatt Nigeria!!

Long Live Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu!!!

Long live the course of Manifestatio Misericordis Patris!!!!

Long live our four new priests!!!!!


with your loved ones

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