Solomon's journey

He is only 30 years of age, yet on Saturday 4 December at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Singleton, Bishop Brian Mascord ordained Solomon Okovido as a transitional deacon.

Solomon is the only Deacon to be ordained in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in the last two years.

Hailing from Nigeria, Solomon was raised in a deeply religious family.

“My dad was a little bit of an authoritarian, but he was very genial,” said Solomon. “Meanwhile, my mum was gentle and kind, yet much more disciplined. As I grew up, I noticed that my mum was more pious than my dad. My dad would go to church at times without minding us, but my mum would never leave the house for church unless we were all prepared to go.”

While at school, Solomon joined the alter boys’ association in his parish and started serving at Masses. It was during this time that he was inspired by his parish priest, Reverend Father Andrew Obinyan.

“He was so kind, and I wanted to be like him,” said Solomon. “I saw him as my mentor, and I became close to him. Fr Andrew Obinyan invited me to stay with him while studying. I assisted him in both church and house chores.”

Fr Andrew encouraged Solomon to join the Catholic Charismatic Movement of the parish and the Legion of Mary Society. He also gave him a treasured book on the saints, which Solomon still reads daily.

“These moments were pivotal in my faith journey as they served as the first nursery bed for my vocation to the priesthood,” said Solomon.

After graduating from secondary school, Solomon’s desire to become a priest only grew stronger.

“I had some exposure to the Jesuits in my diocese, but I didn’t join them. Instead, I joined the Congregation of the Divine Presence Missionaries, where I strengthened my faith formation and studied philosophy.”

After learning of the Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) religious order, Solomon thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to serve in foreign missions. Thanks to his charismatic disposition and love of God, he applied and was accepted into the congregation.

As part of the MGL, Solomon travelled to Australia in February 2014. However, he shortly put a pause on his formation with the MGL, as he wanted to enrich his discernment away from the seminary.

“I knew that I still wanted to be a priest, but I wasn’t in a rush,” he said. “I took my time outside the seminary to properly discern the best path for myself.”

Solomon studied and worked as a chef in Brisbane, while also being a community support worker. He was very much engaged in the diocesan parish community where he lived, and thanks to the help of a spiritual director, rediscovered his calling to become a priest.

At the end of 2016, Solomon found his home in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Following a year spent working at the St Benedict’s Inner
Newcastle parishes, Solomon studied theology at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.

“I graduated earlier this year and am now being raised to the Order of the Diaconate. I am delighted to be given this privilege to serve the good people of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and looking forward to my ministry as a deacon.”

Canonically, this transitional period generally lasts for six months. Following this, Solomon will finally be able to achieve his dream of becoming a priest. In the meantime, though, he is looking forward to the simple things: “I’m excited to marry and baptise those in our community, serve the people of Singleton, and proclaim the good word.”

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