PARISHIONERS at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, were awed as Rev. Fr Oliver Ekene Nwosu, a priest ordained in the Catholic Diocese of Morogoro, in Tanzania, like the prodigal son, on Sunday, demonstrated true repentance by rendering a public apology to the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, for embarrassment and other awkward behaviours against the Catholic doctrine.
Fr Nwosu, who walked into the church after communion, alongside his widowed mother, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, admitted to have wronged the bishop and pleaded with the Awka Diocesan Chief Shepherd to forgive him, stating that he knew that the bishop had the power to forgive him.
“ I am here in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and also in the name of our mother, Mary, and today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. I am with my poor mother and a widow beside me. My father could have been here today but as it pleases God, he is in the mortuary. I am here to tender and seek for your forgiveness in any way I have offended you. I have offended you either by omission or commission. I am not worthy to be here. Take me as a prodigal son and let the blessings of the prodigal son be my portion today. I beg you, you are my father and you have been nice and wonderful to me.
“All I did either in private or on social media was done out of ignorance, misinformation and misadvise. I beg you to forgive me. Find a place in your heart to forgive me and welcome me as your son. Before the people of God and the priests here present today, I promise you my obedient, respect and love. I am here again to seek your forgiveness as the true Shepherd of Awka Diocese. Please, forgive me. I have sinned against heaven and earth. For all the embarrassment I have caused the Church and you in particular, I will be a soldier of Christ. I am begging you before this alter to use your good offices to help me so that what God has desired in my life will come to fulfillment. I know that you can do it. Please, with my mother here, forgive us and let the happiness of my mother be complete and fulfilled”, he said kneeling down.
In responses, the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr Paulinus Ezeokafor, said that about a week ago, Fr Nwosu came to his office to apologise to him and he said he had no problem with him at all because he knew very well that even Christ, after all the persecutions and everything, he was able to forgive those who put him on the cross.
Just this morning, I got a text message from him that he wants to apologise and I told him that I would want him to come because what he did was public. It was there in the social media and everywhere and so, it is not bishop alone but it’s the church. It is true that priesthood of the church is not my own private affair; it is something that has been kept in my custody and it’s my duty as much as possible to make sure that things are done properly. I know very well that the call of priesthood as read from the book of Hebrews said that nobody takes the honor himself except God calls and therefore, all of us who are aspiring or who have aspired to become priests always disposed themselves to the work of the Holy Spirit. I thank God so much that today, being the Pentecost Sunday, the spirit moved you to make this apology and in all sincerity of heart, I must tell you that I am happy to hear from you so that those who heard other things before – because if we are to do it in the aspect of human, it might be very difficult to forgive. From all that transpired, I could see a move to do anything possible to bring me down. Unfortunately, God knows, I am not trying to say that I am a wonderful person but I Know that very few will go through what I went through and survive it. So, I thank God for that and pray for God to give us the grace to move on.
“For all that transpired, please my brother, Oliver Ekene Nwosu, I accept your apology. As a person, I have nothing against you. Other issues as to what will come next are not completely in my control but the church. Like I told you when you came to my office, I have forgiven you. The only thing is that I said you should make it known to others because they knew all that happened and I thank God that you are now better advised and I pray God that you continue to be better advised so that at the end, God will decide how best things will be done. I thank you and the spirit that moved you. I am sorry for the old woman that is being dragged into the matter but it is part of life. May God grant you the grace to really know how to follow things since you have accepted that you made a mistake. As it is being said, if there’s no sin, there won’t be forgiveness. In all that happened, I have forgiven you”, Ezeokafor said.
The bishop went a step further by coming out to raise the priest from his kneeling position and embraced him.