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(Left) Rev. Fr Hillary Nwajagu; Rev. Fr, Micheal Ukah and Fr Solomon Odinukwe at the Mass to celebrate the 30th Priestly Anniversary Mass of Ukah at St. Pius X Catholic Church Rosedale, New York.

30th anniversary: Nigerian Catholic cleric counts gains, blessings of priesthood

(Middle) Rev. Fr Micheal Ukah praying with some guests at his 30th Priestly Anniversary Reception at St. Pius X Catholic Church Rosedale, New York

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Aug. 27, 2023

A Nigerian Catholic priest on mission in the U.S, Rev. Fr. Micheal Ukah, says evangelism is his greatest achievement in his 30 years as a cleric.

Ukah told the New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York after his 30th ordination Mass and Reception at St. Pius X Parish, Rosedale, New York, that he had lived a fulfilled priestly life.

Ukah, a Professor of Philosophy and a lecturer at Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, is also a visiting lecturer on Classics and African Thought in New York University.

“I consider my greatest achievement in the 30 years of my apostolate the number of people whom I have touched positively.

“As a pastor, I have had opportunity of taking care of the students and lecturers in the university.

“I converted a lot of students and lecturers from other religious groups. I have been involved in charitable works, especially among indigent students, paying their fees and other bills.

“It gives me much joy to get people talk about how I positively influenced and mentored them. The work of human development and sanctification makes me happy,’’ he said.

He, however, said the challenges of being an authentic priest could not be overemphasised, acknowledging the divine presence of God in his priestly journey.

“I thank God that He made me His priest. I am very passionate about it and my joy is that in all these challenges, He is always there to sustain and guide me.

“I am constantly conscious of my vacation as a priest, and I pray daily for God to keep me faithful to the vows I took as a priest.

“In my very lowest moments He has been there for me. His promise of divine protection has never failed,’’ he said.

Ukah, ordained a priest in the Catholic diocese of Umuahia, recalled on the eve of his diaconate ordination how he made a request to God, praying.

“Since you have chosen me in this way of life, do give me all the graces to answer your call as you would want me to. Be my constant ‘Emmanuel’.

“Be my Refuge and Strength, be my light and shield. Lord Jesus, I trust and believe in you,’’ said the cleric.

He said what had kept him going was his closeness to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Blessed virgin Mary, daily celebration and admiration of the Eucharist.

In addition, he said reading of scriptural and spiritual works, not neglecting his divine office or the liturgy of the hours had been his greatest source of strength.

The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God (Opus Dei), is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer.

The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer.

NAN reports that Ukah, a retreat preacher, was the chaplain at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia state, for 27 years.

He is a member of the university senate and a member of the diocesan tribunal, a former Chairman of Abia Pilgrim’s Welfare Board, former Administrator of Holy Trinity parish, Umudike.

Also, he is a member of Nigeria Philosophical Association and a member of National Association of Nigerian languages, among others.

In addition, Ukah has written many books and contributed to many national and international journals, attended numerous conferences both local and international.

He is also an external examiner to Ebonyi State University, Ebonyi, and a resource person to the National University Commission, Abuja.

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