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Investigations

SATURDAY TELEGRAPH

19 SEPTEMBER 2015

C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 2 3

come a Catholic priest, one must fulfill some requirements. The first of the many requirements, according to the director of Social Communication for Lagos Archdiocese, Very Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, is to be a male and unmarried. Although, there are some exceptions, he said, particularly for a few married priests, who were formerly Episcopalian ministers who converted to Catholicism. “Because they were previously married, they may not be asked to take the vow of celibacy. However, this is a very rare exception, and normally a married man would not be allowed as a candidate for the priesthood. He can only be at best, a church deacon and so help the church, but he is often required to promise not to remarry should his wife predecease him,” Father Osu added. The next stage, he said, is to join a seminary after high school, or go to college. A college degree, the Rev. Father said, could be in liberal arts or religious studies. He also said that classes emphasising public speaking and writing are helpful in a secular or religious college. “Attending a Catholic college is encouraged since it is thought the college will give the potential priest more access to other priests and opportunities for service in the church. “However, if upon finishing college, a man still wants to become a priest, he will join a seminary. If he joins without college, education to become a priest takes longer years. With a college degree, time in the seminary is usually short. During this time, candidates are encouraged not to pursue romantic relationships. But, establishing friendship with both men and women is encouraged.” Meanwhile, the Vatican, it is understood, is clearly opposed to homosexuality. As a result of Church policy, a homosexual man who is sexually active would be asked to leave the seminary and reconsider his life. Official Church policy is also against ordaining even celibate gay men as priests; although it is assumed that some gay priests exist, keeping their sexual orientation a secret. The four years in the seminary, or eight for high school graduates, are both instructional and spiritual. It is the time to learn all the law and history of Catholicism, as well as the way in which people minister to a parish. Those wishing to become priests are also asked to continue to reflect on their desire to serve, and to seek greater union with God. A successful graduate of the seminary first becomes a deacon for about six months. Should this experience of serving in the church lead the man to feel he should still become a priest, he may then take his vows and enter the priesthood. This is a sacred vow, not lightly broken. This may be why seminary preparation continues to question a person’s desire to make this decision. In addition to education and vows, a prospective priest would again be subjected to background checks, which thoroughly research past history of criminal sexual behaviour. The recent scandals in the church involving the molestation of children and subsequent cover-ups mean that anyone now wishing to become a priest is very seriously scrutinised. As well, since the priest often acts as counselor, he must learn the rules specific to reporting suspected sexual abuse of a child by another member of the priesthood to the secular authorities. Also, Catholic priests must be committed to the Catholic faith and feel called into the priesthood. This takes candidates through extensive counseling, prayer and training to be sure they are hearing God's call. As they progress through seminary and other training, they are expected to become even stronger in the

A group of Rev. Fathers in a prayer session PHOTO:lagosarchdiocese.org

Pope Francis

'Catholic Priests are not to pursue romantic relationships' demonstration of their faith, knowing the rituals, routines and prayers that are common to the faith. They must also take a vow of celibacy as a sign of their commitment to God. The only exception to the vow of celibacy is men who are married before becoming Catholic priests. During seminary, many potential priests complete a pastoral year where they are assigned to a theological college and learn what it is like to become a Catholic priest. As part of seminary, priests take courses in biblical theology, philosophy, liturgy, prayer and counseling. Before becoming fully ordained into the priesthood, prospective priests must perform masses and other Catholic ceremonies to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. Father Osu said they must also have been practicing Catholics for at least five years and have been active participants in a local parish for at least two years. The local parish and diocese, according to him, play a large role in determining whether one will even attend seminary. “They can be rejected for a criminal past, speech impediments, physical deformities and disagreements with bishops and other heads in the church. Every school has a different application process. Some may need reference letters, proof of church involvement, and a statement of interest, to name the basics. “In seminary, candidates spend years studying philosophy, Latin, Greek, Gregorian chants, dogmatic and moral theology, Canon law, and church history, just to get started. They would also take a year concentrating on ‘spiritual study’,” he further said. Attending retreats, conferences, and workshops are regular aspects of Catholic priest training. This way, candidates are guided on meditation and solitude and be given adequate time to hone their public

speaking skills. The final “test” of whether or not candidates have a vocation to the priesthood is the call of the Bishop. If the Bishop does not call one to Holy Orders, such a candidate does not have a vocation to the priesthood. At the conclusion of seminary training or other guided preparation for the priesthood, a candidate is generally ordained, which is sometimes called “receiving the sacrament of holy orders.” This may be done during a mass celebration or through some other kind of ceremony. A priest then receives an assignment or begins living a religious life along with fellow members of their order. In spite of the tedious road walked to become a Catholic priest, nearly every mother in Igbo land would do everything possible to encourage their sons to be one. This, however, is despite the premium placed on male children in the Igbo tradition – where a male child is almost worshipped, cherished, and awaited by nearly every couple to seal up the marriage blessings. To the men, this declaration, sometimes, could be debilitating even as it presents mixed feelings and reactions in the immediate family. While the wife may be smiling and preparing to be called “Nne Father,” (mother of a reverend father) the husband sees it as a smack of foolishness on the side of the son, for trying to erase his name from the annals of existence, since he (the son) will not marry to have offspring in his name. This choice of fellowship has often set the child against the father and the father against the mother, for allegedly not educating her son well.

Nearly every mother in Igbo land would like to be called Nne Father (mother of a Rev. Father)

His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie

New telegraph saturday, september 19, 2015 binder1  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New telegraph saturday, september 19, 2015 binder1  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

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