Kingsley and Kizito came to Australia after meeting Parish Priest of The Good Shepherd, East Lake Macquarie, Fr Gerard Mackie.
“I met Fr Gerard in my home parish when he came to Nigeria for the thanksgiving Mass of Fr Camillus Nwahia,” Kizito said. “He told me about the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and the shortage of priests. I made my intention of desiring to be a Catholic priest known to him. Exactly one year after, the visa came and then we travelled to Australia.”
Kizito felt the draw to become to a priest when he was very young. He remembers watching the priest intently when he would go to Mass as a child, instead of playing with other kids. He would also practise celebrating the Mass at home.
“At the age of 11, after I received first Holy Communion, I joined the altar servers in my parish still having the desire to become a priest,” Kizito said. “I find a kind of fulfilment and joy each time I serve at Mass, and I love doing it even now.”
For Kingsley, the desire to become a priest came later than Kizito’s. Kingsley attended a minor seminary with his brother and recalls a profound moment.
“It all started the first time I was exposed to Eucharistic Adoration in the minor seminary,” Kingsley said. “I remember gazing at the Eucharist and being pierced to the heart, knowing how Christ died on the cross for the sake of my sins. Tears rolled down my face, my heart was filled with invitation. I was overwhelmed by God’s personal love for me.”
That invitation led Kingsley to continue in the seminary in Nigeria, until a call to do mission work interrupted that plan.
“During my time as a seminarian in Nigeria, I was sent to different places, villages and parts of rural areas for pastoral work,” he said. “In my third year in the seminary (third-year philosophy), I was posted to work in a small village with many difficulties where people were really suffering and needed the word of God and sacraments. I started developing a love for missionary work. I prayed that I would be able to do mission work, and then I met Fr Gerard Mackie. He helped me in answering my call for missionary work in Australia.”
Kingsley has been encouraged in his vocation by a quote from Pope Francis: “The priestly vocation is truly a treasure that God places in the hearts of some men, chosen by Him and called to follow Him in this special state of life. This treasure, that must be discovered and brought to light, is not made to ‘enrich’ someone alone. He who is called to the ministry is not the ‘master’ of his vocation, but rather the administrator of a gift that God has entrusted to him for the good of all the people, or rather for all humanity, even those who have drifted away from religious practice or do not profess faith in Christ.”
Kingsley and Kizito are passionate about their call to be priests in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and encourage others to be open to God’s leading in their lives. With open hearts, who knows who else God may call to lead our parishes in the future?