… As Catholic communities celebrate Very Rev. Fr. Hartnett
Catholic priests have been tasked to be dedicated to their calling as servants of God and God’s people, living selfless lives according to the way of the Lord Jesus and as commanded by the Church. The charge was given by Very Rev. Msgr. Bernard Okodua, Episcopal Vicar, Lagos Region, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, while delivering the homily during the 80th birthday and 55th priestly ordination anniversary celebration of Very Rev. Eddie Hartnett SMA, Episcopal Vicar, Badagry Region, held last weekend at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin, Lagos. Msgr. Okodua thanked God for the celebrant’s life, his ministry and the great things that God has done in the life of the Church in Nigeria through Fr. Hartnett and for a fruitful 55 years in the service of God and His (God) people. He said one cannot talk about Fr. Hartnett and SMA priests whose importance cannot be quantified in the evangelisation of Africa without talking about SMA Itself, the Society of African Missions, as he added that it is by God’s own providence that the priests came to the continent in the mid nineteen century.
According to him, “In Fr. Hartnett, we have a role model in dedication, in obedience in observing the ways of the Church, a role model in self sacrifice as far as the priesthood is concerned. We can’t live our priestly life our own way; it has to be according to the way of the Lord Jesus and as commanded by the Church. “Let us ask God to strengthen us and increase our faith in Him so that in spite of the odds around us and the anomalies of life, we may not derail, we may not edge towards materialism, but have the courage to say no to such things so that we can do the will of God always. Also speaking on the occasion, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos said Fr. Hartnett has impacted on him in very many ways; especially as a seminarian who came to work under his guidance at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Badagry. Reminiscing on experiences while traveling from one station to another to celebrate Mass with Fr. Hartnett and others, Archbishop Martins said among other things, he learnt from the celebrant was the fact that one should not take anything for granted. “Even if a person is doing that which is his duty, he still needs to be acknowledged and be paid.
That’s still with me, and I have not forgotten it and am sure it is same with others that we were growing along together in Badagry then.” He thanked Fr. Hartnett for all that he has done for individuals and for the Church in the Archdiocese of Lagos, adding that the people of Mushin will not forget his works and service in their parish and the very many ways by which he left an imprint. “Of course, the whole of Badagry certainly will not forget you and all that you have done and continued to do”, the Bishop said. For his part, Fr. Hartnett narrated how he came to Regina Mundi to work and was warmly received then and guided on how to live and go about in the not so safe Mushin area, he added that he enjoined his time working in the parish, as the people were very friendly and accommodating.
He thanked the parishioners and prayed that God will continue to guide, protect and be with them and make the Church community continue to grow spiritually and in every other aspect. “Am just thanking God who has given me so many years, and for all these years he has been good to me. His friendship is what has kept me going, and it’s not only His friendship, but making me to be happy and to be a blessing to others”, he said. Very Rev. Eddie Hartnett was ordained a priest on December 18, 1967, came to Nigeria in 1968, worked at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos; St. Paul, Ebute Metta; Regina Mundi, Mushin; Sacred Heart, Badagry. He is currently the Parish Priest at St. Andrew, Kweme, Seme Border.