IN THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, THE FIRST PARISH PRIEST OF OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY CATHOLIC CHURCH ARIDA, THE FOUNDER OF ADORATION FAMILY LAGOS, MULTI TALENTED REV. FR. DR. LAWRENCE EZE, SPEAKS HOW IT ALL STARTED … HIS EXPERIENCES. EXCERPTS:
Dear Fr. We know you as Rev. Fr. Dr. Lawrence Eze, but for the benefit of our numerous readers who may not know you, can we know you more, your family background,etc.?
This could also mean, a kind of biography … Okay, my name, you already know, Rev. Fr. Dr. Lawrence Eze. Born 5th September, 1973 of fore most educationists: Remy Eze and Lucy Eze (nee Obilor), Ordained a priest 2003 by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. A.E. Ilonu of Okigwe Diocese. Hails from Ehime Mbano L.G.A, Imo State. The schools I attended are: Isiorie Primary School Umuezeala Owerre Ehime, Boys Secondary School Umualumaku Umuihim Ehime Mbano, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary Ihitte, St. Peter’s Seminary Okigwe, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Ehime, Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Owerri and concluded with three Bachelor Degrees, in Philosophy (B.Phil), Theology (B.D) from Pontifical Urban University Rome and Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies (BA), Imo State University Owerri. Others are: Masters of Arts Degree (M.A) Religious Ethics, and Ph.D, Religious Ethics in-view, Imo State University Owerri. Award of Doctor of Divinity (D.D) by Abundant Grace University of Theology Austin Texas U.S.A, L.L.B. LAW (Hons.) Civil Law, from the National Open University of Nigeria, P.G.D. Education NTI, Kaduna. Fellow EWTN USA. And has authored so many books and so manyvideo productions. The Spiritual Director Adoration Family, Victorious Family Okigwe Diocese. While on academic research, presently, the Parish Priest of St. Charles Catholic Church Umunumo, Ehime Mbano L.G.A.
Though, as a Priest where you work is not a matter of choice. A Priest must be ready to work within the geographical jurisdiction of his incardination. As Priests we submit to the directives of the Bishop who knows best where our services are needed most within the Church. Inconveniencing as it was, to tidy up to move as a young missionary Priest to the Archdioceseof Lagos, immediately after my ordination, I had no objections but to obey my Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Ilonu of blessed memory. Remember Obedience is the greatest of the three Evangelical Vows, others being Poverty and Chastity. And thanks to His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie, who welcomed us with all the fatherly care and Christian love. I worked firstly as the Assistant Priest of S.S. Joachim and Anna Marian, later as the Parish Priest of the following Parishes: St. Michael’s Parish Lafiaji Lagos Island, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Ogba Ikeja, and next was the newly created parish which has the same name with Ogba Parish – Holy Rosary Arida, not very much known earlier by us and too many people. Now let us begin the story!
How did you feel when you were posted to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church as the First Parish Priest, coming from a bigger Parish?
Firstly, I don’t believe in anything like bigger parish, because the anointing makes a place big and great. If you are anointed in the Spirit, every opportunity is to make a place, or people great. Moreover, I like facing challenges forcefully and frontally too. My success in life is attributed to God’s grace and sheer will-power to face challenges. I was so delighted to start from scratch, and my joy was in the love of Mother Mary and her maternal care, the newly created Parish has the same name “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary” from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Ogba Ikeja to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Arida. I don’t want to rule out the fact that every new beginning has its problems and challenges, thanks to God’s words that says “I will be with you … as I was with Moses…”
During your stay in the Parish can you share your experiences with us.
Empowered through the intercession of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and in partnership with the Holy Spirit, we began an explosive Adoration Ministry. Thus, an adoration ground was opened which laid the spiritual foundation of this great parish, thanks to the members of the Adoration family and the good members of the C.C.R.N of our Parish. Suddenly, Holy Rosary became a spiritual pilgrimage centre for all. We made a lot of conversions and so, Holy Rosary Arida became so spirit filled that made many members of other religious sets and other Christian denominations to return to the Catholic faith. We started with a very few worshipers (members) in an ugly batcher, but in a couple of months we started counting and recording thousands of worshipers.A very unprecedented growth, both spiritually and physically was recorded. And so, my experiences are tripod experiences namely: Spiritual, Pastoral and Developmental experiences.
Spiritually, we discovered some spiritual infestations of demonic forces in various manifestations; we victoriously over powered them in Christ Jesus, through prayers of Adoration and the Mercy of God. Thus Holy Rosary Arida became a Parish built on a strong Christian Faith and Prayer.
The evidence of the Spiritual Foundation of Holy Rosary Arida is visible in its rapid structural development and the number of worshipers who joined us every day at the Mass and other Spiritual activities.
Developmentally, as you already know very well, within a space of one year plus, we not only completed the Reverend Father’s House, donated a set of Lister generator, but also finished the newly acquired uncompleted school building, where we presently have the Maryhome Schools, started one of the biggest and finest Church (complex) buildings in the Lagos Archdiocese, which was rapidly moving towards its decking completion, before I was recalled to my home Diocese for greater assignments, in and outside the Diocese. Thanks to the present Archbishop of Lagos who refused and rejected my request for incardination here in Lagos.
I like to say pastorally, Holy Rosary though a very young Parish was so exemplary to many neighbouring Parishes and their Priests. You will also recall that I always devote a greater part of my Pastoral work to helping those who fall victim to the devil through deliverance prayers. Among other things, helping the younger ones to find their vocations in life, especially those who wish to become Priests and helping the less privileged who came knocking at our Church doors every day for help,were too many … I believe not only in Structural Development, but also in the Integral Development of the Human Person.
Fr., as the first Parish Priest that started the foundation of the Church Holy Rosary Arida, how do you feel about its dedication today?
As the first Parish Priest of Holy Rosary Arida, and the one who started the Foundation of the Church Holy Rosary Arida, I am very happy about its Church Dedication because it takes a visionary leader to start this gigantic church edifice; it is my mission, my vision, and my dream! Besides,who would not be happy that the good seed he/she planted has now grown into a mighty tree, like the mustard seed of the Bible? I am happy that I started a Parish just like the early Irish Priests and Missionaries that came to Nigeria. This Church structure in its gigantic nature, is a legacy of selfless service to God and to the Church.
To God be the Glory! on this note, I want to thank God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for making me His Priest and for using me this far. And to congratulate the present Parish Priest Fr. Usman, for completing this wonderful edifice. I will not forget the support of Barr. Emeka Maduabuchi (KSM); who was the first Vice Chairman of this church, and Chief Emma Ibegbu, the first C.M.O Chairman and the leader of C.M.O. for their great support at those difficult times. Special thanks to Chief Dr. (Lord Mayor) O.C. Godson, who spent a lot of his time and resources in the building of this Church. With him are men and women of good will. Thanks to Okey Emeribe for really doing the workings. May God bless all the members of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Arida, the Adoration Family, Victorious Family.
Fr. what words of advice do you have for your beloved Parishioners?
My words of advice are words of Faith, Love and Holiness of life as you begin to use this dedicated Church. In the words of the Psalmist: “who has the right to go up the Lord’s hills? Who may enter His Holy temple? Who are pure in heart and thought, who do not worship idols or make false promises. The Lord will bless them and save them. God will declare them innocent. Such are the people who come to God. Who come into the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:3-6).
It means we must be sincere Christians, sincere with Our God and sincere with our neighbours. We must aspire everyday as we use this Church to be holy onto God. And to all I say: Stop Hating People! Learn to love and appreciate others who are not from your own tribe. We must as good human begins appreciate people who help or helped us in any way in life. Appreciate the good things others do, it attracts blessings. You must thank people when they have done well. The culture of appreciation, not “the use and dump” culture…
Take note: whatever we are doing as Children of God, we must try and make Heaven at last. May we not reduce our Christian faith and our universalistic philosophy of our Christian brotherhood, taught by the Word of God and our Catholic Doctrine, into ethnic content, tribal content, leading us (Church leaders and followers) to loss of Christian spirituality and a gain of hell fire. Note: these sentiments tribalor ethnic are dangerously affecting the Nigerian Church today, and may prevent us from asking the right questions, so as to get the right answers. This can never produce the best or give excellence and merit a chance; rather they become factors that breed mediocrity and divisions, a good chance for the mediocre to be a leader.
My dear Parishioners, no man grows by destroying others or the good works of his fellow man and no Christian will succeed without the love of his or her neighbor. Learn to forgive others.
Hatred for others because of anything at all, does not make you a Child of God. And the idea of using others as a means to an end will only provoke God’s anger. Try to see the good qualities in others and encourage them. Help, not hinder. “Do unto others as you wish to be done unto you” the precepts of fairness and equity will override the wickedness in the world today especially in Nigeria, where the Christians are killed every moment by “unknown gun men”, in a country we have security men, security system and a government. As a good Parishioner, be your brother’s keeper, protect your Catholic/Christian faith, through regular Daily Masses. Keep all the Christian doctrines that we know. There is nothing new that has not been said so far. But then, we try to do these things well now. That is it.
Thank you and God bless you.
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