It was indeed a landmark achievement for Very Revd. Father Lawrence Nwaneri, Cssp, Parish Priest, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Igbogila, Ipaja Deanery of the Archdiocese of Lagos as he delightfully celebrated his 30th Anniversary of his priestly ordination on Saturday 17th April, 2021. Very Revd. Fr. Nwaneri clocked thirty years in the priesthood on March 16th, a day before the celebration of the Patron Saint of his parish, March 17th and the two exerts were deliberately rescheduled for April 17th because of the Lenten season. A long pastoral procession of about eleven priests from the Ipaja Deanery into the Church led by Rev. Fr. Francis Anyanwu, Dean, Ipaja Deanery representing the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins with the celebrant Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri occupying the rear heralded the commencement of the thanksgiving concelebrated mass. The entire congregation from the parish centre, the two outstations, Saint Jude, Ashipa and the Archangels, Bada stood in unison to salute the Parish Priest.
A standing ovation you would say. Earlier, during the March 16th Anniversary, the Associate Priest, Rev. Fr. Joachim Erahbor, SDV in his homily noted that it was not easy carrying on the duties as a priest for thirty years. He prayed that God would stand by Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri, guide him, and grant him good health and grace to continue to serve God in his vineyard. In his opening homily on the 17th April, Rev. Fr. Victor Koonoo remarked: “Today we are gathered to celebrate the great feast of St. Patrick and the 30th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Very Rev. Fr. Lawrence Nwaneri, Cssp”. The homilist went down the memory lane recalling the birth, education and the journey to priesthood of Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri thirty years ago and his achievement so far. Fr. Koonoo observed that Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri has seen it all in the Catholic Church. He has weathered many storms and overcome many challenges within and outside the country.
His thirty years in the priesthood has seen him traversing three continents: Africa, Oceania and North America. On his return from United States of America, he was posted to Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State as the chaplain briefly before he was again posted to St. Vincent Catholic Church, Okpella, Auchi Diocese of Edo State. Finally, Fr. Koonoo said Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri was transferred to his present station, St. Patrick Igbogila, Ipaja Deanery of the Archdiocese of Lagos. He resumed at St. Patrick on March 1st, 2019 with a mission and quote: “Blood is thicker than water, and that is why we respect and protect our siblings and other relations. Jesus blood however is thicker than other natural blood, therefore I am a Christian and my relationship with all parishioners is thicker than biological relationship”.
The homilist thanked Very Rev. Fr. Nwaneri, all the priests present and the congregation acknowledging with a big thank you once again to a great priest. He concluded by singing a Yoruba praise song; “Olorun Giga Iba Re Baba, Oba Awon Oba”. Very Rev. Fr. Lawrence Nwaneri, Cssp, was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on March 16, 1991 by Most Rev. Dr. Victor Chikwe, the Catholic Bishop of Ahiara Diocese at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ogbe, Ahiazu, Mbaise, Imo State. The ceremony later moved to the reception ground where societies, organizations and outstations had erected canopies to entertain their members. Very Revd. Fr. Nwaneri thanked everyone for the support and cooperation given to him. The event was effectively coordinated by the Chairman, Patron Feast Day Committee, Mr. Joachim Uwagba (a.k.a) Oba Ibadan.