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Joy fills St. Peter Cathedral as Father John Enemuo is ordained to priesthood for Diocese of Wilmington

Father David Murphy vests Father Onyedikachukwu Chibundu John Enemuo at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington on May 20. Dialog photo/Don Blake

WILMINGTON — Joyous music rang out from the choir loft at St. Peter’s Cathedral on May 20 as Onyedikachukwu Chibundu Enemuo was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wilmington. Father Enemuo, known as John, entered the presbyterate of the diocese during a Mass that lasted approximately two hours.

The cathedral was filled to capacity for the ordination, the second since the arrival of Bishop Koenig in 2021. The congregation included women religious, permanent deacons, seminarians and many of the diocese’s priests. Father Enemuo’s family was not able to travel from Nigeria for the Mass, but they were watching from home.

The readings reflected the spirit of the occasion. The first reading, from Isaiah, said the “spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”

The passage concluded with, “You shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God.”

The second reading came from Paul’s letter to the Romans. As one body, it said, we have many parts. Individually, we are part of one another. Our gifts differ, and we are called to use them.

A short gospel reading had a direct message: “The son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The ordination of Onyedikachukwu Chibundu John Enemuo at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Photo/Don Blake

After that, Father Enemuo was called to the front of the church as a candidate for ordination. Father Norman Carroll, the diocesan director of vocations, presented Father Enemuo to Bishop Koenig. The bishop asked, “Do you know him to be worthy?” and Father Carroll replied that he was, based on the testimony of those responsible for Father Enemuo’s preparation. Bishop Koenig gave his approval, and the church burst into applause.

Father Enemuo took a seat on the altar in front of Bishop Koenig.

“Today is truly a joyous day. The last four seconds proved that point,” the bishop said, drawing laughter.

He then read a passage that included the priest’s name and looked at Father Enemuo to see how he did on the pronunciation. The bishop noted that the priest’s family was watching online and assured them that they “are here in our hearts and our minds.”

Bishop Koenig said Father Enemuo told him that an important part of his priestly ministry will be to recognize the gifts and talents of every member. The priests of the diocese, the bishop said, use their various gifts to serve the people of the diocese.

“Your life as a servant will be lived out when the good things you do are not noticed, or at times taken for granted, and yet you continue to do those good things,” Bishop Koenig said.

At times it will be difficult and perhaps not personally rewarding, but it is something that is needed, he continued, and has been asked of him. His ministry will be exercised in and through Christ.

The ordination of Onyedikachukwu Chibundu John Enemuo at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Photo/Don Blake

As he goes forth in his ministry, he, like St. Peter, will share a treasure that is far more valuable than silver or gold. It is a treasure for which the world hungers, the bishop said. God will lead him in ways he never expected. He asked Father Enemuo to give to others the gift that has given to him.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, help people to stand up and walk in the freedom of God’s kingdom,” Bishop Koenig said.

He urged Father Enemuo to “continue to go to God in prayer and supplication. Allow God to shape and mold you. Allow God to shine in and through you.” Don’t be disheartened by your limitations, he continued, and never underestimate the power of God’s grace.

“As you begin your priestly ministry, may you, like Blessed Michael and all sacred priests that have gone before you, give your very self to God,” Bishop Koenig said.

With that, Father Enemuo stood and vowed to carry out the responsibilities of the priesthood. He then knelt in front of the bishop, who took Father Enemuo’s hands in his, and promised respect and obedience to Bishop Koenig and his successors. Father Enemuo moved to the front of the altar and prostrated himself before the altar during a litany of the saints. Father Enemuo knelt before the altar, and the priests and deacons of the diocese each laid hands on his head and said a quick prayer.

They remained on the altar as the bishop read the prayer of ordination. Father David Murphy, associate pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hockessin and a concelebrant of the ordination Mass, vested the new priest and embraced him as the church once again erupted in applause. Bishop Koenig then anointed the priest’s hands with oil. Father Enemuo received his chalice, and, with choir music filling the church, the priests congratulated him individually on the altar.

Father Carroll returned to the microphone to thank all of those who assisted Father Enemuo on his journey to the priesthood, naming the parishes where he has served or worshiped. Father Carroll said some of those at the ordination were there because of Father Enemuo’s work in their parish, and some young men are discerning a call to the priesthood because of that.

Finally, Bishop Koenig, after expressing his gratitude for the people who made the ordination possible, asked the congregation if they wanted to know “where he’s going to work.” Loud cheers filled the church when the bishop revealed that the new priest would be heading to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish.