By Constaincia Uruakpa
There was celebration in the air, Saturday, October 2, 2021, at St. Stephen Catholic Church, Agboju, Lagos when two members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer took their final profession of vows, with pomp and ceremony, The candidates, Brs. Nwabuisi Collins Ndubueze, CSsR and Eze Livinus Uchenna, CSsR were filled with joy and accomplishment, as they, alongside friends and family rendered thanks and praises to God. Speaking on the occasion, Rev. Fr. Godwin Alichenu Abbah, CSsR, Vocations Director and Director of Communication, Vice Province, Nigeria disclosed that the vocation to the Redemptorist life is a vocation to follow the footsteps of the Redeemer, as exemplified by St. Alphonsus. He said: “St. Alphonsus founded the congregation in 1732, to minister to the poor and the most abandoned in the hills of Naples at the time.
So, since then, our congregation continually does the work that St. Alphonsus started, which is to seek out the poor and most abandoned. And in Nigeria here, the congregation was founded in the late 80s, and formation started in the mid 90s. And now, we have upwards of 161 Redemptorists in Nigeria, and we are still waxing stronger, to the glory of God.” Fr. Abbah disclosed that the profession of final vow is the highpoint of the vocation, for religious in the Church. “We are a religious organization. Religious are demarcated; those who make the vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, and live in community. We fall in this cadre in the Church. And for us, the final vow is your final commitment to be a member of that religious institute for the rest of your life. “So, for us, the day we make our commitment that for the rest of our lives, we will become Redemptorists, that is the biggest day of our lives. We consider ordination to the priesthood as an added gift to that final consecration that we make.
That is what we celebrated here today at St. Stephen, Agboju. “So, our two brothers have been in formation, and they have renewed their vows for more than three years. And having looked at it, they have to make a decision whether or not they want to live this life for the rest of their lives or they want to look at another vocation. And thanks be to God, they made a decision to remain Redemptrists for the rest of their lives. When that decision is made, they apply, and after the application, they are approved, if found worthy. Then, they go into a 30-day retreat, and after the 30 days, then, there’s an additional eight days retreat. “So, it’s almost 40 days of retreat that they go into, similar to the 40 days and40 nights that our Lord went through, before he began his public ministry. So, the preparation for final vows is similar to that. The apex of that is what we have celebrated today.”
Fr. Abbah advised young men who are considering the vocation not to be lured by the things of the world, but to live lives of sacrifice, of deep prayer and union with God and his people. He said: “I would like to say to young men who are considering this vocation that it’s a beautiful life if they feel the tug of the Lord in their heart, calling them to a life of sacrifice, a life of deep prayer, a life of union with God and his people and they should not just throw it away, they should not just be lured by the things of the world, but take time to think about it properly.
And it’s a fulfilling life. It’s a difficult life. Yes, it’s a life filled with a lot of crosses, a lot of thorns, but in the end, it is beautiful, it is meaningful. And so, I would like to encourage them, to look at that.” While appreciating people who are married that support the Church and Religious groups, the priest encouraged them to continue their good works, as he prayed for God’s blessings on them. For his part, Nwabisi Collins Ndubeze said though the journey had been tough, but God saw him through the challenges. “The journey has been tough, but God has been always leading me by. I must confess that if not for his Grace, I wouldn’t be here today. But, he has always been there for me, guiding me and directing me and he has given me the strength to live out by his Grace, and come through the hurdles of the challenges.
And I continue to pray that through his Grace, he will complete what he has started in me”, he said. Eze Clement Uchenna, CSsR said he joined the congregation after his university studies, as he felt the urge to work for God. “The story of my vocation is a wonderful one. After I finished my university studies, I felt like I needed to do something greater for God, and because of that, I started searching for a way of intimacy with God, and I happened to find myself in religious life, the Congregation of the Most Holy Reedemer, where today, I have become a full fledged member with my final profession. So, today for me is a day of joy. I have been telling my friends and my brothers that my heart is actually ready. My heart is ready for this profession. And after the profession, I will continue to serve God, especially in the charism of my congregation and to respect the teachings of the Church”, he submitted.