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The vocation of the Catholic priesthood has been described as a special gift of God given to a privileged few and should not be treated with levity by those called and the lay faithful. This contention was posited by the Vicar General of Ondo Diocese, Rev. Fr. Anthony Ojo, while delivering the homily at the silver Jubilee celebration of the priestly ordination of Rev. Fr. Peter Babangida.

The ceremony, which took place recently at Our Lady Catholic Church, Independence Way, Kaduna, was attended by Bishops John Niyiring of Kano Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, priests and religious from different parts of the country, traditional rulers, family members, friends of the celebrant from outside the country and Catholic faithful from parts of the country.

Noting that the source of vocation is divine and a gift for those chosen by God, the homilist declared: “when we look at the numbers of human beings in the world, and the number of Catholic priests around, there is no doubt that whoever is called into this ministry should consider himself as one of the privileges that are considered for this gift:. He added: “The source of vocation is divine, neither the priest nor the people of God to whom the priest is called to minister to should threat this position with levity.”

While pointing out that the silver jubilee celebration by the celebrant is an opportunity for him to count his blessings as well as to reflect on the gift he has been to the people and the Church of God; Fr. Ojo stated that the call to vocation is a privilege to enter eternal glory, if the laid down guidelines of the Church are followed. His words: “ We are thanking God for today and with our celebrant for so many reasons, that he is alive, that he has done this treacherous journey for the past 25 years and he is still on track ….” He continued: “ many are praying to be where he is, and for many other reasons; but one should not the most important, which is that he is on the right part that leads to eternal life.”  He added: “This is the greatest and most important benefit of this call. If you are called and you follow the rule of your sacred vocation, there is no reason why one would fall short of eternal salvation.”

The homilist used the occasion to outline the primary duties of the Catholic Priest which include; constant prayer, proclamation of the Gospel and the practice of charity especially for the poor and the needy. He called on the lay faithful to pray for their priests so that they may not derail.

Fr. Ojo also used the occasion to express concern over the proliferation of the vocation ministry noting however that: “in the midst of this confusion, it is still clear that the Catholic priesthood stands out”. His words: “It is within the context of Christianity in Nigeria that this special call has become so common that almost in every home you have a pastor.”

He continued: “The God who calls these days does not call just individuals as it was in the days of old, now this God calls husbands and wives. Gone were those days when those who were called were expected to leave their homes and go to where God sent them, the order of the day now is that children even inherit the call of their father.” He concluded: “I wonder if God is the one calling such people or they are the ones forcing themselves on God’s call. In the midst of this confusion, it is still clear that the Catholic priesthood stands out.”


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