Sokoto Catholic Diocese Ordains 10 Deacon; The First Since Its Erection
History has been made in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria with the ordination of ten deacons. Before now, the highest was six, during the time of the late Bishop Emeritus Kevin Aje who passed few years ago.
The 10 deacons are undergoing in formation in two major seminaries in Nigeria, the over 50 years old St. Augustine’s in Jos and the Good Shepherd in Kaduna, both in North Central Nigeria. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah is himself an alumnus of the St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos. The uniqueness of Sokoto Diocese reflects even in the background of the 10 deacons. They all hail from five different tribes in Nigeria – Hausa, Igala, Idoma, Tiv and Igbo.
At the Mass during which the ten young men were ordained, the homilist from the Good Shepherd Seminary, Reverend Fr. Philemon Ayibo said the role of Deacons in the Church is that of service in humble charity in support of the bishop and priests. Such service he said must be in humility.
The diaconate he said is not a function but prayer which must be a culture and way of life, adding that prayer helps one to climb high above challenging life situations. Deacons he enthused, must be hospital, missionary at heart and be at the service of the Church and others.
Fr. Philemon Ayibo admonished both deacons and the generality of the people not to live fake life in their attempt to seek recognition from others. He warned that fake life is expensive to maintain and emotionally draining because it lacks authenticity.
Recapping his advice, the homilist says no task is too menial for a deacon who he quoted Pope Francis as saying the diaconate is a call to lower yourselves in service as authentic ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
During the ceremony, the 10 candidates in turns pledged respect and obedience to their Bishop and promised to serve the Church with all they have.
Addressing the congregation, the ordaining prelate, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said the diaconate is not a semi final because not all ordained deacons make it to the priesthood and as a result, the deacons should continue to pray all the time.
The diaconate he said is an account of stewardship and as a result, it is the quality of service that matters. He lamented that in Nigeria, those who aspired for public office and get the opportunity only think on how to abuse and violate the Nigerian constitution.
He enjoined the deacons not to allow the prayer books they were given to become monuments or as mere symbolism nor allow personal comfort to override their responsibilities. He advised them not to belittle their diaconate as Deacons had been made Popes many centuries ago in the Catholic Church.
Bishop Kukah appealed to the Catholic faithful to get involved in contributing to the training of seminarians because it costs a lot to train a seminarian to be a priest.