Recalling his years as a Seminarian, Fr. Idris said, “I had a good relationship with both my formators and fellow students.”
“While in the seminary I was made the choir master,” he further recalled.
The Nigerian Catholic Priest went on to recount some challenges he faced as a Seminarian, saying, “There were moments that I packed my things to leave but God used some of my mates and friends like Samuel Fidelis Odidi and others, the spiritual directors, the present Rector, Rev. Fr. Mark Nzukwein and the Vice Rector, Rev Fr. Timothy Barga to speak to me and give me reasons to stay back and discern well.”
“I faced so many crises both within and outside the system. But since the hand of God was there, I surmounted all to my destiny (Priesthood),” he said.
In carrying out his apostolate, Fr. Idris said, “There are some times when I had to sleep in an unkempt room or be rejected by some local churches in the country side, treating malaria as a result of mosquito bites, and eating some foods (that) are not good for my system.”
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On February 25, Bishop Charles Michael Hammawa ordained him a Priest alongside five others at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral of Jalingo Diocese.
“I was happy that my parents attended my ordination. It shows all my sacrifices did not go in vain,” the Nigerian Priest who has been assigned to minister as Assistant Parish Priest at Holy Family Takum Catholic Parish of Jalingo Diocese told ACI Africa March 14.
Fr. Idris Moses Gwanube with his parents. Credit: Fr. Idris Moses Gwanube
“I have already reported to my mission and I am doing my best and ever ready for whatever mission or apostolate the Church will ask me to carry out,” he said.
He continued, “I am now a Catholic Priest; it gives me more joy than ever, especially now that it is more vivid seeing myself celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifices and other Liturgical functions; like conferring the Sacraments and counseling people.”
In the March 14 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Idris also reflected on Christian persecution in Africa’s most populous nation.
“Christian persecution is actually a reality in Nigeria, though not in all parts,” he said, and added, “There are some places in Nigeria where Christians cannot freely worship; for security reasons I can't mention names.”
“There are some job opportunities or positions that as a Christian you cannot be offered in some places,” Fr. Idris said, and added, “In fact, on Fridays there are some roads that people cannot pass simply because they have been converted to a place of worship. As such all have to wait till prayers are done before people can use them.”
He continued, “In some States in Nigeria, land cannot be sold to Christians to build places of worship; many Priests, Pastors have been killed, kidnapped and churches burnt down as a result of their faith.”
“In some states in Nigeria, Christians do not stay in the same area with Muslims,” the Nigerian Priest who converted from Islam to Catholicism said.
Credit: Fr. Idris Moses Gwanube
As a way forward, the Catholic Priest recommends that Nigerians “outgrow fanaticism and be real about religious freedom just as it is obtainable in some Western world where people are allowed to practice the religion of their choice.”
“People should stop thinking or fighting for God, for He can fight for Himself if things are not right for him,” Fr. Idris cautioned, and added, “Our idea of religious freedom should be real and not book knowledge. If all these are considered, gradually we shall overcome Christian persecution in Nigeria.”
For those who want to convert to Catholicism but are afraid of persecution, Fr. Idris said, “They should be convinced about what they want and stand firm for it and be ready to give up all for it, even if it means their lives; after all Christ gave up all for us and urges us to leave everything and follow him.”
“If as young as 14, I stood my ground and never let whatever persecution or beating or threats that came my way stop me from being a Christian, which I was and is sure by faith as my way of salvation, I think anyone can,” he told ACI Africa during the March 14 interview.
He added, “We should all be concerned about the wellbeing of humanity, for religion is a matter of faith in the Supreme.”
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.