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Nigerian Catholic Priest Recalls Beginnings of Four Decades of “very exciting” Ministry

An invitation card to the 40th anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Fr. Patrick Alumuku. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Nigerian Catholic Priest has, in an interview with ACI Africa, looked back at the beginnings of his Priestly ministry four decades ago, saying the decision to give his life to the service of God’s people has accorded him “very exciting” experiences.

In the Friday, July 2 interview, Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku who celebrated forty years of Priestly ministry on June 26 challenged young people in Africa contemplating a life of Priesthood to be prepared to make sacrifices.

“The last 40 years of my Priesthood have actually been very exciting,” Fr. Alumuku said, and added, “When I look back, I see nothing that I have except that I gave my life for God’s people to evangelize and I intend to do that until I breathe my last.”

The Cleric who was ordained a Priest for Nigeria’s Makurdi Diocese in 1981 recalled that a year after his Priestly ordination, he was appointed Vocations Director and Director of youth apostolate. 

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“I recall that within that period I was able to go to about 300 secondary schools,” Fr. Alumuku said, and added, “I recall that in that first year over 200 young men wanted to become Priests in an area where there were not many vocations at all and at a time when it was difficult to convince young people to become Priests.”

Looking back to these early years of his Priestly ministry, the Cleric who is currently ministering in Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese reaches out to young people in Africa with advice.

“I would like young people to know, especially young people in Africa today, to realize that the Priesthood is calling that expect a lot of sacrifices,” he said and continued, “The Priesthood calls for sacrifice from those who answer the vocation.”

“Many young people feel that the Priesthood is an easy task or an easy job. When the Lord calls, he places responsibility on us and these responsibilities can be heavy. Sometimes they are not overbearing, but they are heavy, and they need sacrifice,” Fr. Alumuku said.

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He continued, “If you're not prepared to make sacrifices, I would advise you not to seek the Priesthood, because you might end up in places that are very challenging and people that need a lot of patience, and you have to work with them, and you must blossom wherever you are planted.”

The Nigerian Priest who is at the helm of Communications for the Archdiocese of Abuja and doubles as the Director of the Catholic Television of Nigeria (CTV), which he founded in 2010 went on to recall the beginnings of his passion for communication and the dozen years he served at Vatican Radio.

“I discovered while in the seminary that I could do a lot to use the means of communication to reach out to many more people, and I found that through some of the Priests who were doing great work in writing in the seminary,” he told ACI Africa July 2.   

He added, “One in particular who inspired me a lot was Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who wrote often in the Awakening Light newspaper of our seminary.”

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While at Vatican Radio, Fr. Alumuku recalled, “We were able to do a lot with the team at the African service because when I came back home, I discovered lots of people were listening to us, and so we thought, this is a wonderful way to evangelize, to use the modern means of communication.”

Reflecting on the challenges facing communication apostolate in Africa, Fr. Alumuku said, “It's a difficult apostolate because the ordinary Christian does not understand why they should support communication.”

Ordinary Christians, he underscored, look at communication “as sometimes a secular apostolate or secular activity. But I think the African synod has made it very clear that communication is at the heart of evangelization.”

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“If our Priests and lay people understand the theology of communication, of how there could be no Church without communication, then they will be able to support this apostolate much more,” Fr. Alumuku who is also the Parish Priest of St. Louis Catholic Parish of Abuja Archdiocese said.

He is urging “young Priests and lay people in the communication sector to be courageous in telling the truth, to authorities, especially on our continent.”

In the last 40 years of Priestly ministry, Fr Alumuku said he has learnt many lessons, and added, “One is to trust more in good and to trust less in humanity.”

“The other lesson which I have learnt is that it's important to work with people, than to work alone,” he further said, adding, “You can do a lot if you really work with people, and you make a conscious effort for them to think together with you, to work together with you, and to do things, to get them to participate, because participation is actually the engine that drives development.”

His own strength, the holder of a doctorate in communication told ACI Africa, “has actually been first and foremost my faith in Christ and in the Eucharist.”

“I have looked up to Jesus as the source of my strength and of my faith. And at all times when I felt the sense of weakness, I sought recourse to Jesus in the Eucharist,” Fr. Alumuku said during the July 2 interview.