Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Priesthood is new start for Father Nnadibuagha

August 12, 2020

By Darcy Fargo

LOWVILLE – For Father Jude Nnadibuagha, a long journey ended with his ordination on Aug. 1 and a new journey began.

“I had been waiting for this a long time,” Father Nnadibuagha said several days after his ordination. “I started this 14 years ago. I knew within myself that God was calling me to serve him. I can’t serve him in any way more than as a priest. I had to be patient, I had to wait, and I had to call on God. Everything came to light and came to pass as God willed it. I’m very happy to finally have gotten to priesthood. Priesthood is a new time in my life; a new beginning to serve the people of God and bring lost sheep back to the fold. It’s also a way to get to heaven for both me and people of God.”

Father Nnadibuagha is now serving as parochial vicar at the Catholic Community of St. Peter, St. Hedwig and St. Mary in Lowville. He has served as a deacon in that community since he was ordained to that role in October 2019.

“I believe that time was a wonderful, crucial time in my preparation for being a priest,” Father Nnadibuagha said. “It helped me to kind of learn the requirements of my vocation. Within that short period of diaconate, I immersed myself in assisting my priest and assisting the bishop. I tried to learn what it is to be a priest.”

Serving as a deacon gave Father Nnadibuagha experience celebrating funerals. Now, as a priest, he recently celebrated his first baptism, and he plans to preside over his first wedding later this month.

Father Nnadibuagha said another first, his first celebration of Mass, was “very exciting.”

“It was a very holy moment, a very important moment in my life,” he said. “I never imagined I could do that. I thought that in the beginning, I was going to be afraid. But I had a lot of courage. That is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God was there with me and assisted me. I just did it the best way I could do it.”

Father Nnadibuagha said his ordination was a humbling experience and he’s “very happy to act in the person of Christ and bring Christ to humanity.”

“The center of priesthood is to serve God and the people of God,” he said. “I must be vigilant always to look to God and serve him. As a result, the Eucharist becomes the center of my priestly life, and celebration of the word and sacraments. It’s the celebration of truth manifested in Christ himself.”

Father Nnadibuagha said he’s also excited to continue learning how to be a priest while working with Father James W. “Jay” Seymour.

“I have not learned it all,” Father Nnadibuagha said. “As a deacon, I tried to learn. Now, I’m learning through practical experience, and I learn from my pastor. Being ordained a priest doesn’t mean I have all the knowledge I need. If I have confusion, I can ask my pastor. That’s the joy of being a parochial vicar. I have people to assist me.”

Father Nnadibuagha was 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’s, the rosary association and the parish council.

“I had a good Catholic upbringing,” Nnadibuagha said in a previous interview. “Initially, I never thought I would be a priest.”

Despite the suggestions of some of his family members, Father Nnadibuagha said he 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,” Father Nnadibuagha 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, Father Nnadibuagha 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.

He applied to a few dioceses, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and he came to America for the first time in 2018 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 conduct Masses 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, Nnadibuagha said he quickly decided the Diocese of Ogdensburg would be the only diocese with which he would interview. 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.

Father Nnadibuagha said he’s now blessed to have the support and prayers of the people of the Catholic Community of St. Peter, St. Hedwig and St. Mary, as well as others he’s met in the United States, especially during the ongoing pandemic, which made it so his family could not attend his ordination.

“Friends from Boston came via car,” he said. “They drove seven hours and came. That made my day. I saw my father in them. I saw my mother in them. I saw my brothers and sisters in them. And the people of Lowville – God called me to their midst, and they were there. They identify themselves as my family. It was hard when I found out my family couldn’t attend, but I always try to have the disposition if something happens, I have inspiration to let it go. I didn’t really engage my mind thinking about my father or brother or sister when I saw all these good people around me.”

As he moves into this new part of his life and ministry with joy, Father Nnadibuagha said he’d encourage other young men to consider the priesthood.

“I’d like to tell people, young people especially, to always consider and ask God and pray for their vocation and ask God what he has destined for them in their lives. Read the vocations stories of people and see if there’s a relationship between what they go through and their lives. We need young people with good hearts to serve the people of the diocese as priests.”

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.