Events are the fabrics of human history. Yet, when the newsworthy takes place, it takes the discerning mind of the journalist to know that the right key has been used. Yesterday, that is, December 8, 2020, ordinarily was the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception. However, for the Church in Uromi diocese, it meant more than that as it marks also the Ordination of five men into the rank of the priesthood and for St. Benedict Catholic Community Ubiaja, history was repeating itself, as she played host to an event she once hosted on March 27, 1960 when now Late Rt Monsignor Stephen Ogbeide was ordained. Ever since, apart from deaconate Ordination, no priestly Ordination has ever taken place in Ubiaja and to this end, even the infant in the oldest local government headquarters in Esan land were in attendance amidst the covid-19 restrictions.

As if this was not enough, the witty saying that when people gather in the ancient city of Benin, seeing the Oba’s children is always spectacular came to bear. Thus, even as people gathered from the four corners and centre of the diocese, they were all in for the candidates to be ordained. Precisely, some were in for Fr. Pius Agbona of Ewossa, some for Fr. Augustine Oriakponor of Uzea, some for Fr. Joseph Odiana of Ewatto, other for Fr. Samson Osagie of Igueben and Fr. Ehimare Ehizoba of Ujogba.

L-R Rev Frs Pius Aigbona, Samson Osajie, Festus Ehizoba, Joseph Odiana, and Augustine Oriakpono

For Igueben whose son, Fr. Anselm Ojeifua, is the second Edo born to be a Catholic Priest (October 1942, second only to Msgr Joseph Eramen of Anegbette), Ordination is actually nothing new, Uzea now have five born priests with the Ordination of Fr. Augustine Oriakponor, a senior priest in the diocese already hails from Ewossa, so, they too had the joy of their son been ordained priest before now, indeed, apart from St. Patrick Uromi and St. Denis Ugboha, Ewatto could be proud enough to say we are well known for this. Then, why was the ovation always of different tempo each time candidates were called?

For an old priest in attendance at yesterday’s event, the more remote the village or location the louder the ovation. This seems true, yet, there is more to it, since Ujogba was not the remotest from Ubiaja by geographical reckoning nor Uzea the most undeveloped.

Sincerely, the ovation from the Ujogba camp was that of breakthrough that only reminiscenced what they gave in Ogbe Stadium in 1974, during the Local Prelude to the International Jubilee Year of 1975, when now Archbishop Emeritus, Patrick Ekpu, instead of Ujogba station mistakenly said Ujogba parish. For them, that was prophetic and it must come to be. Ujogba has long turn a parish and has a considerable size of members but they had a yearning, a prayer point, a desire and a quest- for God to call at least one of their sons to the sacred priesthood. Yesterday, was the day, it came like a dream and the day meant more than a calendar day. It was the birth of reality. Thus, when the Vocations Director called the name Rev’d Festus Ehimare Ehizoba, the ovation that followed forced even the most indifferent to applause and the most pious to asking who is he? Now Rev’d Fr. Festus Ehimare Ehizoba is the first answer to the agelong prayer of the people of Ujogba. He is the First Priest from Ujogba kingdom. We welcome him to the priesthood. We pray that his Ordination that caused enviable ovation will bring men and women to the fullest light of God. Congratulations Fr. Ehizoba, Congratulations to the People of Ujogba and Congratulations to Uromi diocese.

© Osemhantie OKHUELEIGBE, 2020.

Rev Fr Osemhantie OKHUELEIGBE is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria. He is currently the Personal Secretary of the Archbishop Emeritus of Benin City, Most Rev Patrick Ebosele Ekpu.