Nigeria Needs Priests Who Can “teach, witness” amid Turbulence: Catholic Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama poses with newly ordained Priests at the Redemptorist Spirituality Center in the Catholic Diocese of Oyo. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese/Facebook

Nigeria needs Priests who are ready to give hope to the people of God who are targeted in religious-based violence, the Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abuja has said.

In his homily during the Priestly and Diaconate ordination that was held August 27 at the Redemptorist Spirituality Center in the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama noted that now, more than ever, the people in Nigeria need to feel closer to God, hence their need for Priests who can “witness”.

“Our country today, faced with security, political, ethnic and religious challenges, needs priests and deacons who will teach and witness, shine in honesty and truth; use religion for building good relationships; draw people closer to God,” Archbishop Kaigama said during the ordination of members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists - CSsR)

He said that the West African country needs Priests who are ready to “preach the good news of salvation and bring comfort and hope to the many suffering people.”

The Archbishop of Abuja encouraged Priests and women and men Religious who he said have become targets in the ongoing attacks in Nigeria to take courage and to build their resilience and faith.


“My dear people of God, we must pray for the gift of a deeper faith, that nothing will separate us from the love of God in our country where priests and Reverend Sisters have become targets of kidnapping and killing,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “Whatever may be the reason for the assault, we must remain strong, vigilant and prayerful, with our faith remaining solid and rooted in Jesus.”

In his message to the Redemptorists he was about to ordain, the Nigerian Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 said that the people of God will always emerge victorious after every affliction.

“As St. Paul says, ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken’, … We wish our new priests and deacons a spiritually fulfilled ministry,” he said.

The Local Ordinary of Abuja reminded the Deacons he was about to ordain Priests of their obligation “to act with reverence”, noting that a lot is expected of them in their capacity as Church ministers.

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“Because Catholic priests share in the priesthood of Christ, the people of God call them ‘Reverend Fathers’. They expect their priests to act with reverence and to be fatherly; to let their light shine, to truly behave as ministers of God, because they are commissioned by God, and so are no longer to behave as youngsters even though they may be young,” Archbishop Kaigama added.

He continued, “As St. Paul admonished Timothy, a priest or a deacon should be an example to believers in the way he speaks and behaves, with love, faith and purity; preaching, teaching and doing what he teaches so as to save both himself and those who listen to him.”

“Dear priests-to-be, today you will receive not worldly authority but Jesus’ authority. You will have power to bring down Jesus on the altar, to forgive sins and to lead the people to salvation. The deacons are to help you in all this,” the Nigerian Archbishop said August 27.

He urged the candidates he was about to ordain Deacons to live happy and fulfilled lives, and to resist the temptation to make wealth in the country he said values material possessions.

“To the priests-to-be, be convinced and happy of your choice of the priestly vocation. You become priests not to please anybody but God. You are no longer your own; you belong to God,” the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 said.


He added, making reference to the founder of the Redemptorists, “Your priesthood is not a career with the prospects of promotion or material privileges. You can only be promoted in the service of the poor and most abandoned as desired by St. Alphonsus De Liguori.”

“In our materialistic society some will put pressure on you to ‘make it’ in the Nigerian sense, and wonder why you are only assistant priests or working in prison or hospital or orphanage, not ‘lucrative’ places. Resist the temptation,” the Archbishop said, and noted that Priests who try to measure themselves by the standard of the world “are not happy priests”.

He explained that Priests who value material wealth end up feeling empty and disgruntled as soon as the material conditions on which they build their Priesthood cannot be met.

Such Priests, Archbishop Kaigama warned, can become “spiritually and pastorally dangerous”. He said, “They begin to feel unwanted and even develop hostility against Superiors. They feel self-pity and think of their assignment as a punishment rather than a joyful sharing in the work of Jesus Christ.”

“Please dear priests, protect, defend and preserve your priesthood from invasion, harassment and assault by people who want to lead you to the temptation to seek the kingdom of this world. Your major duty as priests and deacons is to grow in spiritual life and to serve selflessly beyond borders,” Archbishop Kaigama said August 27 during the ordination of CSsR members.

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Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.