February 12, 2012: Golden Religious Life

11 Feb

As the saying goes, kill not the chicken that lays the golden egg! On February 12, 1962 two young boys made their first religious profession in Nigeria. But have you ever thought what it is like to be a golden egg? Have you ever thought what it means to dedicate yourself to someone else’s life-project? That is exactly what happens when a religious, or priest, consecrates him or herself to God: they lay down their nets (their projects) and take up that of God, and follow Him.

This year 2012, the Spiritans in Nigeria felicitate with two of their great confreres who are celebrating 50 Years of Religious Profession. Nigerian Spiritans celebrate the ‘yes’ cum “Fiat” of two confreres who have been following the Lord’s project through their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for a combined 100 years! Let me introduce them.

Golden Confreres

Fr. Benjamin Dara'tuegwu, CSSp

Benjamin DARA’TUEGWU CSSp, fondly referred to as “Fr. Dara” and more fondly still as “world man” and Vincent Valentine Egwuchukwu EZEONYIA CSSp, fondly referred to sometimes as “Brother Vin”, were pretty young but filled with the Holy Spirit in 1962. February 12, 1962 was no doubt an awesome as both novices prayerfully knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and in the presence of the provincial Superior to publicly pronounce their willingness to serve God as Spiritans through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Many years later, 1968 to be precise, they were ordained to the priesthood.

On the one hand, the ‘diminutive’ Fr. Dara tirelessly served and continues to serve the Holy Ghost Congregation as a “pastor-missionary.” His natural cheerfulness and passion for mission have earned him so much love and admiration from the people of God in the various parts of Nigeria where he served as parish priest. He is currently the parish priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish, Ekwegbe in Nsukka diocese of Nigeria.

On the other hand, “Brother Vin” progressed from “pastor-missionary” to “shepherd” as he was appointed bishop of Aba diocese on April 2, 1990 and was ordained bishop on July 1, 1990. The entire catholic faithful of the diocese of Aba continues to testify to the fact that, our confrere, their bishop, remains an epitome of a good shepherd.

Courageous Confreres
The fearlessness with which these living legends, till date, commit themselves to the mission of the Church and congregation is worth commending. This should, however, not be a surprise to anyone because the word “egwu” in Dara’tuegwu means exactly the same thing as the “egwu” in Egwuchukwu. From an Igbo linguistic cultural purview, “egwu” as contained in their names means “fear”. Thus while “Dara’tuegwu could mean a son of the soil (“Diala” or “Nwa afo”) who is fearless because he is a true son of the soil and should therefore not be scared of nothing or any task assigned to him (cf. Galatians 4:6), “Egwuchukwu” means the fear of God that propels one to remain focused, courageous and Spirit-filled in all circumstances (cf. Isaiah 59:19) that comes one’s way.

It is my submission, therefore, that our Golden Jubilarians – Fr. Benjamin Dara’tuegwu CSSp and Bishop Vincent Egwuchukwu Ezeonyia CSSp – are indeed invaluable assets to both the Church and the Spiritan Congregation. February 12, 2012 remains a golden day for these golden Spiritans celebrating their golden jubilee of a golden religious profession.

As they commemorate the golden memory of the day they pronounced their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at the feet of the Superior, we thank the jubilarians for the witness of their faithfulness to Christ the Divine Master. We invoke on them the gift of perseverance in the full configuration to Christ. We are grateful to God and Our Blessed Mother Mary for the gift of these two living ancestors to the entire Spiritan Family and the gift of their vocation to the world! Ad Multos Annos!


Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Newsroom


6 responses to “February 12, 2012: Golden Religious Life

  1. Awange Richard

    February 12, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I congratulate my elder brothers as they celebrate their golden jubilee.

    I personally know fr Dara, but sadly i have not met Most Rev. Ezeonyia in person. I know from listening to those he has touched that his life speaks volumes of true zeal for the apostolic life. He has served tirelessly the people of God in Abba diocese and the church of Nigeria. He was, (I suppose) the first Nigerian to serve on general administration of the Congregations and worked thereafter, even as Bishop, training future missionaries as a member of the lecturers of Spiritan International School of Theology. Naturally, his Fatherly presence in our congregation will inspire more young people to dedicate themselves to God.

    And Fr. Dara? I know him personally when he was the Parish Priest of our Lady of Fatima Parish Woliwo, Onitsha. The first time I met him he called me “my brother” and went on to live out his pronouncement. Jovial, friendly and pastorally committed to christian discipleship, Fr Dara is ever young in his thoughts and actions. His openness to young confreres and most especially as expressed in his style of warm and charitable welcome will dominate our memory of his golden jubilee celebration.

    And here in the Novitiate at Okura, we will celebrate the sixth Sunday in thanks-giving to our dear elder confreres, golden jubilarians. May God keep them ever young and zealous in their dedication to a life of discipleship in their apostolates.

    Dear Fr Dara and Most Rev, Ezeonyia, may the joy of the lord overflow your life. May this celebration give you renewed vigour and zest for the commitment to be dedicated to the will of God.

    Awange Richard, cssp

  2. Peter Uchenna Nwanowanye

    February 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Wowo De Wowo! That was a beautiful piece! I am happy for the two confreres. They remain shining examples to us following them that this life is good and can be lived to the full by God’s grace. Their example of humility also leaves much to be desired. To them I extend very warm and hearty congratulations!

    Fr Peter. Nwanowanye.

  3. Arinze Onwuzulike, CSSp

    February 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    You are one confrère that really gets us going with stories worth telling. I join my voice to yours and others to salute the noble strides of Dee Dara and Bro +Vin in our religious family. With them as confrères, I can confidently say: anyi nwelu mmadu!

    Arinze Onwuzulike, CSSp

  4. Sr. Lizzy, OP.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:58 am


  5. Echemazu Raphael

    September 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

    As a layman though a Spiritant associate or a friend of d spiritants, wish our Golden Jubilarians Most. Revd. Dr. Vincent Ezeonyia, Cssp nd Rev. Fr. Dara,Cssp a very more fruitful yrs of golden results in God’s vineyard. May God give Our Chief Shephered of Aba diocese gud health, gud nd long lyf to lead d flock of Christ aright. I also pray that God wil favour our spiritant congregation in d appointment of more conferers as Bishops nd shepherds of God’s pastures. Kudos to u al nd happy cheers. In d mind of my uncle Rev. Fr John Echemazu Cssp.

    • Chibuike Ojilere

      September 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Dear Mr. Raphael,
      Thanks for your visit and goodwill prayers! May God bless you abundantly. Kindly note, however, that we are called SPIRITANS or a SPIRITAN. There is no “T”. Shalom!


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