Two Deacons ordained Priests after 15 and 19 years of delay By Justine Dyikuk

he Catholic Diocese of Nsukka made history on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2016 when Rev. Lambert Ejionueme and Rev. Michael Nwabueze were raised to the presbyteral order after 19 and 15 years of being Deacons respectively.          
At the colourful ceremony which took place at St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka, the Bishop of Nsukka diocese and ordaining prelate, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah said, “God wants to use this ordination ceremony to teach us that his ways are not our ways and his time is the best.”
The two new priests, Rev. Frs. Lambert Ejionueme and Michael Nwabueze
 “Whatever happened today is an act of God’s love first of all, to the Church in Nsukka diocese, then to the Bishop and then to the Priests of Nsukka diocese and also to these candidates and finally to the entire people of God.                                                    
“Rather than look for whom to congratulate, we should thank God today for remembering us after such a long time in the lives of our brothers whom he had wanted to be part of his project” Bishop Onah said. 
The prelate used the occasion to caution those who may like to look at the two candidates “as hardened criminals who just received executive pardon from the church before being ordained” to understand that when the candidates were not ordained, they were asked to wait not dismissed. 
The cleric also stressed that the Deacons delay had nothing to do with the former bishop but that “it had to do with the way the Church does her things.” 
Addressing the candidates further, Bishop Onah said, “Lambert and Michael, if you have any idea on why you were asked to wait, it is no longer relevant. What is relevant today is that Christ came back on the 8th day because of two of you. Your classmates had received this power long ago and you were not there and he has come for you…there is no need looking for Culprits and Heroes.”
He also urged the Priests of the Diocese to remain united with the Church as that is the only way they can retain their powers.                                                            
“We are earthen vessels bearing precious gifts. Christ trusts us and commissions us in spite of ourselves but for you to be effective, you have to be as he is; for you to be effective, you have to be united with the Father; you have to be united with Christ in his Church” said he.
The Chief Shepherd, however, expressed worry over the way some priests deviate from the Church’s teaching to do things their own way all in an attempt to seek fame and public worship. 
“I am not God: God can read your intentions; I can only judge your actions. If that action or those actions are not in keeping with the actions of people commissioned and sent by the Church. God may forgive you but I will do what the Church asks me to do” he stressed emphatically.
Bishop Onah ceased the occasion to condemn the spate of kidnapping in Nsukka while urging the people to report such perpetrators.  
Responding, one of the ordinands Rev. Fr. Lambert Ejionueme said that despite the challenge of staying for 19 long years without ordination, he was confident that one day he would become a priest.                                            
“I advise seminarians who might face such fate to always have faith in God as that is one of the things that kept me going throughout those 19 years” the new priest said.
On his part, Rev. Fr. Michael Nwabueze opined that it was the grace of God that kept him for those long 15 years, adding that nobody will suffer their kind of fate again in the Diocese.
Coming at the heels of the Jubilee Year of Mercy inaugurated by the Holy Father, Pope Francis on 8 December 2015 through November 2016, the priestly ordination of Frs. Lambert and Michael after many years of delay further proves that the Church is a merciful Church.            
Although the ordination took place on a Sunday which would have dissuaded the crowd, the ceremony drew in a large number of faithful from across the diocese.
Vehicles also filled the Cathedral premises to the extent that it caused gridlock along Enugu road.

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