Following the ordination of Reverend Father Yohanna Chongwomda Irmiya into the Catholic Priesthood on Saturday 3rd October, 2015, at St. John’s Cathedral, Bauchi, by the Catholic Bishop of Yola, Diocese, Most Reverend Stephen Dami Mamza, his home parish Marti, literally stood still for him as he celebrated his first Mass at St. Peter’s Parish.
The event which took place on Sunday, 4th October 2015 was witnessed by his kinsmen who came out in their thousands including his immediate family members, traditional rulers, worshipers from other creeds, priests, evangelists, catechists and a host of other important dignitaries to grace the first Mass of Reverend Father Irmiya.
Irimiya was assisted at the Mass by eight other priests, two Deacons, three Reverend Sisters, two Seminarians and over twenty Catechist and Evangelists.
Reverend Father Hashimu Garba while delivering his homily, enjoined the newly ordained Priest to always identify himself with his congregation, be humble and patient and hardworking as these are the essential qualities of a Priest.
Garba who also recalled Irmiya’s kindness to him at Saint John Vianney Minor Seminary, Barkin Ladi, when he taught him English Language, saying, “Irmiya is not only kind but also caring and generous.”
He said: “Irmiya disliked people who under-rating others when he was in school” adding “This is one of the good qualities of a priest who is suppose to treat everybody as important as any other person”.
According to him, “As a priest, anything you get will come from the people, and you have to give to those that don’t have, because the people are giving you as a priest, and you don’t have to think that you are special.”
Meanwhile, an octogenarian widow and mother of Reverend Father Irmiya Mama Naomi Irmiya declared that “I expect nothing materially from my son who is now a worker in the Lord’s Vineyard.”
She revealed that, “by God’s kindness, I gave birth to 15 children, but 9 died, and I am left with 6, yet God has graciously chosen one for Himself, I am overwhelmed with joy.”
According to her, “I know that, as a priest, he has no salary, no pension, he is not a contractor, nor a businessman or a politician and therefore he can’t be a millionaire, but as a shepherd of God’s flock, I realised this when he told me that he wanted to be a priest, and I quickly gave my consent, happily. I am just an ordinary woman but if He finds my son worthy, I am happy.”
She said: “As I talk to you, I have no father, no mother, only step brothers and sisters, but God has kept me long enough to see this day, so I am happy, manyar Chongvong. All I ask God is for Him to extend his life, so that he will serve and save souls.”
On Irmiya’s childhood, his mother revealed “Irmiya, born on Nigeria’s Independence Day has been a quiet boy right from his childhood. He was not a trouble maker, humble, attentive, obedient, and was ever ready to help anybody including me in the kitchen and on the farm.
“He is my second son and few years ago that I was really overwhelmed that God chose him for Himself, because his zeal for the pursuit of his Priestly calling was total. To the people of God, I say God has added another worker to His Vineyard, let us listen to him.”
Giving reasons for his support to Irmiya’s choice of priestly calling, his uncle, Catechist Gambo Dauda Irmiya, who trained Reverend Father Irmiya said “worldly wealth will finish, but God’s gifts to us are everlasting. I want my son to continue where I stopped as a Catechist. Heavenly wealth is richer and better.
“Fr. Irmiya is my late elder brother’s son. His late father was a Police officer who died in December 17th 1982, when Reverend Father Irmiya was only 18 months but God used me to train him.”
“Irmiya is a quiet person, intelligent, hardworking, humble and respectful. His late father Mr Tsamani Dauda Sarauta and we hail from Sara-Kasa in Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi state.”
According to him, “When he decided to become a priest, he asked for my permission in 1995 and I happily granted him the permission. He is no longer mine alone, but God’s property who is chosen to lead the people of God.”