NO fewer than 2000 Catholic priests from all the Dioceses in Nigeria are to converge at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha on June 2nd this year to mark the end of the year of the priests and proclaim the late Nigerian priest, Blessed Iwene Tansi the patron of Nigerian Catholic priests.
Pope Benedict XVI had in June last year, declared one year for prayers for the priests and in the past 12 months, various parishes in the country have been praying for their priests for God to guide them in shepherding the flock.
Addressing a news conference in Onitsha as part of preparations for the ceremony, the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province , Most Reverend Valerian Okeke said the priests would also use the occasion to pray for peace and progress in Nigeria .
â€œThis is the year which His Holiness, the Pope has set aside as a jubilee year for priests. It is meant to celebrate the ministerial priesthood, to thank God for the gift of our priests. It is time for all the ordained priests in the Catholic Church to renew, rededicate themselves and get more committed than ever to the ideals, mission and goals of the priesthood of the Christ,â€ Archbishop Okeke said.
He explained that in addition to the Holy Mass that would be celebrated at Onitsha , there would also be the ordination of new priests and adoration of blessed sacrament.
According to him, the priests would also visit the birth place of the late Father Iwene Tansi at Aguleri in Anambra East local government area of Anambra State , adding that Tansi came from a challenging background; he embraced the priesthood when it was new and not well understood by many.
He also observed that Tansi lived austere life embellished with an unquestionable chastity and celibacy, recalling that he encouraged human development and empowerment by building many schools for the education of pupils and institutions where women were being trained and prepared for marriage.