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“Be grateful to Church for formative experience”: Nigerian Bishop to Former Seminarians

Bishop Godfrey Onah interacting with some of the ex-seminarians of Nsukka Diocese during the April 8 reunion. Credit: Godfrey I.Onah Facebook

At the maiden reunion of former seminarians of Nigeria’s Diocese of Nsukka, the Local Ordinary, Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, called on the ex-seminarians to be thankful “for the formative experience” they had while in the Seminary.

In his homily during the Thursday, April 8 re-union Eucharistic celebration with the former Seminarians, Bishop Onah said that the formation received had prepared them for the different roles they are currently playing in society. 

“Each of you ought to be grateful to God and to the Church for the formative experience in the Seminary,” the Nigerian Bishop told the former seminarians. 

He added, “Today, many of you, dear disciples and friends of Jesus who are not Priests, can get to places and play some important roles that no Bishop or Priest can dream of: as husbands, fathers and heads of families, civil servants, professionals, captains of industries, businessmen, academics, traditional rulers, politicians, security personnel, labourers and artisans, ordinary citizens on the rough and rugged terrains of daily life.”

“The days you spent in the Seminary were a preparation for this,” Bishop Onah said April 8 at the old Cathedral building of the Diocese of Nsukka.

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Rather than question themselves about why they left or why they were asked to leave the Seminary, Bishop Onah advised the former seminarians to ask themselves why God allowed them to experience life in the Seminary.

“I am firmly convinced that even if one spent only a day in the Seminary as a seminarian, there must have been a reason in God’s divine plan for it. My faith and experience in life tell me that nothing happens in a person’s life for nothing,” the 64-year-old Bishop said, addressing himself to the former Seminarians in his episcopal see.

He added, “There must be a reason why God permits so many young men to pass through the Seminary, even when He knows that they will not become Priests.”

Reflecting on the Gospel of Luke when the risen Christ appeared to his followers and re-focused their attention from the past, the Bishop said, “It is possible that some of you have not yet come to terms with their past as having once been Seminarians. Today the Lord is telling all of you: Peace be with you!” 

“Why are you so agitated and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?” the Bishop posed in reflection, and went on to tell the former Seminarians, the Lord “is asking each of you to see whatever has happened in the past as part of God’s plan and to now focus on the assignment ahead, namely, bearing Christian witness wherever you may find yourself.”

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“Bear in mind that for every ex-seminarian who is a Priest, there may be as many as ten ex-seminarians who are not Priests. Yes, we are all ex-seminarians! And together, we, all of us, are the Church,” Bishop Onah said. 

He continued, “All of us are grateful to God for who you are today. We ask Him to continue to bless you and your families, to sustain you in your mission and lay apostolate.”

“May God keep you in his love,” the Bishop implored.