Sunday, June 8, 2014

A New Priest, Nigerian Praise Songs, and Pentecost

Today, Pentecost, was an amazing faith experience for our parish. Newly ordained Father Emmanuel Cyril Udoh celebrated his Mass of thanksgiving with us. Fr. Emmanuel is from Nigeria and we have shared in his vocation as he came to us as a seminarian, then became a deacon, and finally a fully ordained priest. It's been a blessing to watch him grow in confidence as he was able to more fully minister to us as he strode confidently toward priesthood. His homilies were so inspiring and he always shared a beautiful smile - looking directly into one's eyes as those who are pure in spirit are prone to do.

Fr. Emmanuel's family - mother, father, sister - as well as a close friend joined us today. It was my husband's turn to lector, wearing his read tie, and our daughter sang joyfully about the Holy Spirit in the choir. I felt fully immersed, in a tangible way, in this beautiful day. How fitting that it was Pentecost! Father spoke of language barriers and shared that his homeland boasts a total of 250 native languages. Neatly, he tied in the multi-lingual miracle of Pentecost with the universality of the language of love. Genuine love honors no barriers - language or otherwise. It is something everyone understands.

As the Mass came to an end, we had the opportunity to speak with the Udoh family and then later share a brunch celebration with them. After the meal, our parish presented Fr. Emmanuel with a sick call set - engraved with his name and date of ordination. To our amazement, his family spontaneously broke into a song of thanksgiving! Later when the cards and notes from parishioners were presented, we were again treated to an outburst of song. The pure joy and unapologetic praise was something I will never forget. What a pleasure it has been to get to know this young man. He has all the markings of making a holy priest and a gift to those who are privileged to know him. We, the people of the parish of St. Elizabeth, are blessed to be among them.

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(L) Father posed with his father, mother, youngest sister, and good friend. (R) Erika and I put him to work right away by having him bless our handmade veils and bracelets.


Since I noticed that Mrs. Udoh covers during Mass and I make veils, I gave her a very special chapel veil that I made for Easter. Upon receiving the gift, she insisted on having our photo taken together. As you can tell from the result, some others were eager to be included in the moment as well.



Be sure to check out their wonderful praise songs in the videos below.

 

Father Emmanuel receives his sick call set from one of the parish council members.


His parents react to cards and notes from parishioners from St. Elizabeth.