By Oluchi, Esther and Chinwe
It is with inexhaustible joy and gratitude to God that, on 16th October, 2016, the Catholic Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. C. V. C. Onaga and Bishop Emeritus, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Gbuji, Priests, Religious and Catholic faithful gathered at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu, to rejoice with Very Rev Fr. Dr. Ambrose Chineme Agu, Diocesan Secretary/Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, who marked his 25th year in the Ministerial Priesthood. The people of God echoed with the psalmist in psalm 118:24 that, “it is the Lord’s doing – Chineme”.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reiterates that, there is time for everything under heaven; 16th October, 2016, was the time to applaud Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Ambrose Agu, who has given 25 years of his services to God and humanity.
The celebration started with the Holy Mass presided over by His Lordship, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Dr. Callistus Onaga, at 10:00am. His Lordship welcomed all present, especially the Bishop Emeritus of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. A. O. Gbuji, all the priests present, religious and the lay faithful.
In his introductory speech, His Lordship thanked God for the life of Rev. Fr. Dr. Ambrose Chineme Agu on his 25 years celebration in the priesthood. He said, Fr. Agu has brought about so many positive changes in our Diocese; especially, in the liturgical worship at our Diocese. This has elevated him to the position of Diocesan Secretary/Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. He described him as a Formator, whose constituencies have been the Junior and Senior Seminaries.
His Lordship continued that, it is a thing of Joy and a wonderful celebration, as the people of God celebrates with Fr. Agu, who has served the church so well and have been committed in the formation of students all through his life as a priest. He advised the priests, he has formed, to emulate him in his simplicity, commitment to duty and vocation, his devotion in the sacredness of the priesthood and in his spirituality.
Reflecting on the exemplary life of Fr. Ambrose Agu, Rev. Fr. Ambrose Nnamdi Nwankwo, the Principal of the College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu, said in his homily that, Rev. Fr. Agu is a priest who brings up the grace of the holy order, a role model, a Formator for 25 years, one who brings forth Priests for the church. He describes Fr. Agu as a miracle to the people of Oyofo, Oghe in Ezeagu L.G.A. He likened him to Moses, who raised his hands in prayer for his people and his people were liberated from their fetish practices. Fr. Nwankwo continued that, Fr. Ambrose Agu is a happy priest, a symbol of dedication, a priest who is dedicated to his vocation and duties.
Rev. Fr. Nwankwo went on to say that, Fr. Agu radiates joy, which signifies the presence of God, his simplicity and in his wonderful ways of doing things and carrying out his duties, both as the Secretary and Lecturer at Bigard Memorial Seminary. He said, joy brings us closer to God and a joyful priest magnifies that joy by bringing a share of God’s grace to the people.
In the concluding part of his sermon, Fr. Nwankwo said, it is a blessing to have a Priest like Fr Ambrose Agu and that the joy in the priesthood calls for responsibility, committed prayer life, sacrifice, pure love. The joy of Fr. Agu is the joy of a man in love with God, his vocation, the people of God and the Presence of God in his life.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a brand new Lexus Jeep to Fr Ambrose Agu by the Catholic Bishop on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, for his pastoral works.
The end of the Holy Mass ushered in other celebrations; such as dances from Sacred Heart Seminary, Nsude, St. Bernard etc.
In his vote of thanks, the celebrant, Very Rev Fr. Dr Ambrose had this to say; “I am very happy and simply overwhelmed by the number of people who attended the celebration and what God has done in my life. Though, the duties of Chancellor/Secretary come with a lot of pressure and that, sometimes, l can hardly find time for myself, but God has been there for me. People should always put their faith in God, with God accompanying us in whatever we do; everything is possible with Him who gives his people strength,” he concluded.
In a chat with Rev. Fr. Callistus Ani, the Chairman Planning Committee; Fr Ani said, he is honoured, elated and opportune to serve as the Chairman, Planning Committee of Very Rev. Fr. Ambrose Agu’s 25th Anniversary in the priesthood. He thanked God for him, “Fr. Agu is a gift to the church and to humanity. He is loved because of his dedication, commitment, sincerity to the solemn divine duty God has called him,” he said.
Fr. Ani went on to say that, Fr. Ambrose Agu’s methodology, simplicity and approach to life have really influenced him positively as a priest, and that he is somebody worth knowing; because his life is a summary of one, who is imminent and transparent.
In another chat with Choice Flame crew, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. John Nwafor, the immediate past Cathedral Administrator and the predecessor of the celebrant, as the former Diocesan Secretary said that, “the celebration was a great occasion in two aspects. First, it is the gift of priesthood, which is something very precious and something that can never be compared to anything at all. Secondly, the man being celebrated is an exemplary man, who has all the qualities of a good priest”.
He urged the priests and the Catholic faithful to always try to live a saintly life, whether married or religious and one should always show the same degree of devotion and dedication to his or her duties; even in the family, as Fr. Chineme Agu, who is being celebrated. Keep to your status and make your status honourable, he advised.
Also speaking with Choice Flame Crew, the younger sister to Very Rev. Fr. Dr Ambrose Chineme Agu, Chinyere Agu had this to say about her brother; “He has been a wonderful brother and I have no doubt in my mind that, he has been a good priest, worthy of emulation.” She wished him long life in his work, in the Lord’s vineyard, and also prayed for more of God’s wisdom and knowledge for him.
Agu Nicasius, the immediate younger brother of the celebrant, shared that, he is very happy to see his brother celebrating his 25 years of his priesthood and thanked God for that. He said, Fr. Ambrose Agu has influenced his spiritual life positively. He wished him God’s abundant blessings, favour and abundant grace to continue working in God’s vineyard.
“Chronicling the events of these twenty-five years, one believes that your name has guided you-Chineme. It has been years of ups and downs, but despite all, you have remained faithful to the calling. We need to make it emphatic that, you have build characters and good foundations in the history of our Diocese and the church at large. Virtually all our young priests (beginning from 1991) have passed through you, either as a junior or senior seminarian and you have sown good seeds in them”. “You have made efforts to know each by name and possibly, the person’s way of life and that makes us to revere you dearly. Many a time, we are thrilled by the way you coordinate the Diocesan affairs, meetings and your work as a lecturer, not excluding your pastoral attention to your Chaplaincy. Indeed, you are a scarce genius.”
The Planning Committee
Very Rev Fr. Dr. Ambrose Chineme Agu was born in Zaria on 19th July, 1963, to the family of Mr. Christopher Ogbozor Agu and Late Mrs. Monica Mgbochukwu Agu of Oyofo Oghe, in Ezeagu L.G.A. of Enugu State. His birth brought much joy to all the members of Agu family, as they saw the new entrant into the family as the Lord’s doing and thus, named him “Chineme”. The name has influenced and guided him all through, as he believes that, God holds his way in his life and offers him his providential care. Also, just as the influential Bishop of Milan, Chineme was given the name Ambrose at baptism and entrusted to guardianship of the great and learned saint.
His educational career began in 1970 at St. Theresa Central School, Oghe, where he had his first two years of Primary education. He later continued his primary education at St. John’s Primary School, Abakpa Nike, Enugu, when his father was re-instated at the Railway Corporation after the disruption that followed the Nigerian-Biafra war. It was at St. Theresa’s, Abakpa Nike that he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). His contact at Affa with a Seminarian on apostolic work made him start to nurse the desire to become a priest. This desire whetted up in him, as a young mass server, at St Theresa’s Parish, Abakpa Nike, under late Msgr. Raphael Eze. He gained admission into Sacred Heart Seminary, Nsude on 13th December, 1976; and later, proceeded to St. John Cross Seminary, Nsukka, where he obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC), in 1981.
He was among those selected to teach for a year at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Nsude, after his formation at St. John’s Seminary. At the end and having fulfilled all requirements, he was sent to Bigard Memorial Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene (now St. Joseph Major Seminary) for his Philosophical Studies, which spanned form 1982 to 1986.
In 1987, after the completion of the apostolic work, he was sent to Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu for his Theological Studies, which he completed in 1991.
Fr Ambrose was ordained a priest on 8th September, 1991 by Bishop Michael Eneja, at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Oghe, coinciding with the birthday of our Blessed Mother Mary. He began his assignment as a Vice Rector at Sacred Heart Seminary, Nsude.
After few years of priestly service, Bishop M.U. Eneja deemed it fit to send him for further studies in Germany. Upon return from Germany, Fr. Ambrose Agu was made the Rector of Queen of the Apostles Seminary, Ogwofia, Imezi-Owa, from 2005 to 2006. He was later appointed as a lecturer at Bigard Memorial Seminary till date. Bishop Callistus Onaga, after deep prayers, as Christ would do before choosing his apostles, and knowing the thoroughness involved, appointed him in the office of a Chancellor/Secretary of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, 2009, an office which he has exercised till date.
The Choice Flame crew joins their voice with the Bishop and the entire Catholic Diocese of Enugu to say a very big congratulation to Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Ambrose Agu. We pray that, God will direct, guide and bless him as he continue his pastoral work.