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Archives ‘Wholly and entirely to His service’

Nov. 6, 2019

By Jonathan Monfiletto
Contributing writer

For Deacon Jude Nnadibuagha, the priesthood is a gift from God that He gives freely to those who are called to the vocation and that they accept freely in return.

As he prepared to receive this gift after his ordination as a deacon, Deacon Nnadibuagha said he is responding to God’s call to “give myself wholly and entirely to His service.”

In responding to God’s call, in fact, he did not know before the day of his ordination what his next assignment would be.

“I will serve the people of the North Country, giving myself totally to whatever the bishop asks me to do,” Deacon Nnadibuagha said, noting he currently works with the priest at St. Peter’s Church in Lowville but did not know whether he would remain in that parish. “Whatever the bishop tells me, I know that his voice is the voice of Christ, so I follow whatever he tells me to do and I try to do it with the best of my ability and knowledge.”

Responding to God’s call is a theme of Deacon Nnadibuagha’s life and his journey to the priesthood. Raised Catholic in Nigeria and baptized a few months after he was born, he grew up going to Mass with his parents. He made Holy Communion at age 8 and was involved in several church activities, such as the Society of St. Jude, the rosary association and the parish council.

“I had a good Catholic upbringing,” he said. “Initially, I never thought I would be a priest.”

Despite the suggestions of some of his family members, Deacon Nnadibuagha wanted to become a lawyer when he was young and was on the verge of going to university to study law when he attended the first Mass of a newly ordained priest.

That first Mass in 2005 “really changed my worldview,” he said, and he started thinking, “Is it not good to give this a try?”

So, he began applying to congregations to see if he could join them.

From 2006 to 2007, he joined the Discalced Carmelites. In 2013, he finished studying philosophy, and then in 2017 he completed theology studies in Rome. At the end of his studies, he felt called to the priesthood, wanting something more active than the contemplative life of the Carmelites.

Now Deacon Nnadibuagha applied to a few dioceses, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and he came to America for the first time last year to interview with the diocese. He decided to come to America in the first place, he said, after hearing from a priest in Nigeria about priests who have to conduct Mass at multiple churches because of a shortage of priests. In Nigeria, one church may have two or three priests.

As he prayed over his applications, Deacon Nnadibuagha said he quickly decided the Diocese of Ogdensburg would be the only diocese with which he interviewed. His confidence stemmed from the quick replies he received from the vocation coordinator to his letters.

“I really said, ‘This could be a sign that I am called to be here,’” Nnadibuagha said, adding that he completed his studies in Rome, returned to Nigeria, and waited patiently until everything was settled and the diocese asked him to come back.

Now, Deacon Nnadibuagha has been ordained as a deacon, and he said he is excited to be getting closer to attending to his vocation.

“I’ve always known that vocation is the call of God, and God knows a better way and when and how one attends to it,” he said.

As a deacon, Nnadibuagha assists the priest at the altar and helps him with other functions of the church. With the exception of celebrating Mass, hearing confession and anointing the sick, Nnadibuagha can participate in the sacraments of baptism and witness marriages.

“It’s just a way by which I learn more, get closer to the altar, get closer to the priest and then learn more from him because after that stage I then become a priest,” he said, adding the bishop and the priest will decide when he is ready to become a priest. “It’s not just about what I was taught in the seminary. … I keep fully in Christ through working well with the priest I stay with.”

As Nnadibuagha waits to become a priest, he is trusting in the words of Psalm 27:4: “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”

“I want to remain in the house of the Lord,” Nnadibuagha said. “The life of Christ is to help sinners come to the knowledge of the truth and remain with the truth. That is what I seek. What I want is for God to use me, to transform me in the first place, to give me for Himself, and to use me to help others, to help souls, to save souls for Himself, for His glory, not for my glory but for the glory of God.”


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