Seek “to preserve dignity of priesthood”: Nigerian Archbishop to Priests at Chrism Mass

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama blesses the oils during the Chrism Mass at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Abuja. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja/Facebook

At the celebration of Chrism Mass in his Episcopal See Tuesday, April 12, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama urged Priests “to preserve the dignity of the priesthood”.

Archbishop Kaigama also called upon Priests to reflect on the three symbols of ordination: lying prostrate, receiving the chalice, and placing of hands on a Bishop's palm. 

“The Priest is expected to preserve the dignity of the priesthood that we received from God, and to become clothed with Christ,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.

The Priest, he added, “is to nourish the people with the Word, and to strengthen them with the Sacraments, to be with the people, and to encourage them by bringing them hope and consolation.” 

Archbishop Kaigama cautioned against the tendency on the part of Priests to make “personal choices or to question, compare, and argue” about their respective ministries and assignments.


“A Priest suffers and is heading to priestly discontentment when he begins to make personal choices or to question, compare, and argue; failing to remember that the Church is his Mother and Teacher and makes decisions for him, as the Priest is no longer his own,” he said.

The Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Abuja Archdiocese since  December 2019 added, “The priesthood is not a career but a call to selfless service.”

As a selfless service, Archbishop Kaigama said during Chrism Mass at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of Abuja, “a Priest can be asked to work with the hill people, river people, people in prison, farmers, civil servants, politicians, or the very poor, to lead them in the path of salvation.”

A Priest “should be able to close his eyes and genuinely say to himself, ‘where am I needed the most, in a school or in a hospital, in a rural parish or in an urban parish?’” 

“Some close their eyes and see that they are teaching in a school but they would like to serve in a hospital, some working in a rural area and they would like to relocate to a bigger area! Some want to acquire degrees even when such degrees may not be necessary,” said the 63-year-old Nigerian Archbishop. 

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The Archbishop challenges members of the Clergy to “be content with just being Priests.”

“We priests should really mean it when we join the congregation to say the post-communion prayer: ‘Jesus, I love you; all I have is yours, yours I am and yours I want to be, do with me whatever you will,’” he said.

Addressing himself to the Laity, the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said, “Dear lay people, friends and families of Priests, kindly support Priests even when sent to very difficult missions, rather than giving them the impression that they are suffering.”

Archbishop Kaigama also urged the people of God under his pastoral care to use the final days of the Holy week to “renew our respective commitments to Jesus and to listen to what the Holy Spirit says to us as a family.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.