My first thoughts of becoming a priest came when I was about 8 years old. I would imitate what I saw the priest do at Mass. I would call together my siblings – whether they minded it or not – and say the Mass for them. When it reached the time for communion, I would take a white peppermint, dip it in coke, and give it to my sisters, Bose and Joy, who would be my Mass servers. My mum would just laugh at us, especially when Joy wanted to drink the remaining coke with me.
After my senior secondary school education, there was still this inner urge in me to serve God and humanity. During a parish retreat directed by Rev Fr Dominic Totaro, SJ, he talked about ‘Ignatian Spirituality’ and, taking us through Psalm 139, I began to ponder my reason for being. The words of the Psalmist: “O God you search me and you know me…” made me keep asking questions about my existence: where have I come from? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Fr Dominic reminded us that human beings are created for a purpose and every other thing on the face of the earth is meant to help us achieve this purpose. It was during this retreat that I really started thinking of joining the priesthood to see if it would answer my question of what I am doing here and where I am going.
My mum never stops praying for me. She was a major beneficiary of missionary work through the free education program in Nigeria. She wished to be able to assist anyone who devoted himself or herself to missionary work, and today, seeing me in the seminary gives her much joy. This in part forms my desires to become a Catholic priest; that I can, in any little way, be a missionary as the apostles were and engage in missionary work. This means that my mission would remain to proclaim to everyone I meet the message of salvation, the message of the Kingdom of God; just as Christ handed down the message to his apostles and they to their successors, down to us. Perhaps, then, I can begin to satisfy that inner urge in me to serve God and humanity.
When I told my family of my desire to become a priest, they reminded me of something that happened when I was 8 years old. We had a community event where people would come from different places. During the mass, the priest asked, ‘Who would like to become a priest?’ I raised my hand and said yes, and this priest prayed over me. “As this is your heart’s desire, I pray that God will bring it to fulfilment”.