This is the concluding part of the interview of Umuaka Times with Fr Eburuaja. As this news item was about to be arranged for posting, Umuaka Times received the sad news that the mother of the Rev Father, Ezinne Regina Eburuaja had passed on. This interview is n honour and memory of her. May her soul rest in peace.
That is really amazing. ok, what were the peculiar challenges you had in Umuaka?
I had no time for resting and relaxation in Umuaka. My brother, I had no time of my own at all. Almost all cases were directed to me then because Fr Eburuaja was the only name the stubborn kids were afraid of. So I had to give my services to all families that called on me.
How would you describe Umuaka people and Christianity in the town as well?
Hahahaha, Umuaka people are very religious but many are not good Christians. Many Umuaka people are believers in all kinds of supernatural realities. A real Umuaka man is a traditionalist. This is why you see many kinds of Churches in Umuaka. Umuaka people are very religious but not spiritual anyway. A core Umuaka man is a lover of tradition.
Ok lets go personal. Your name, “Eburuaja,” can you explain what it means? Which aja? The Aja that Jesus Christ offered himself for or the one by pagans? Some Christians will argue with you that you have a pagan name, what do you say to that?
My brother, my name is an Igbo religious name that came from African traditional religion of a fact. As a matter of fact, God was answering our fathers until the advent of Christianity. The catechism said, “Aja wu iji victim huo chineke site n’aka Priest. The same aja of old is what we do in Christian faith today. My name is a pure Igbo religious name and not a pagan name in your own understanding. My brother, I am proud of it. It means, “Eburu aja ebugara Chukwu.(chi).” Don’t call it pagan but a typical Igbo traditional meaningful name. Simply.
That is a nice one from you Father, Now let’s get back to the Catholic institution. Can you tell us why Catholic priests do not get married?
– I don’t want to go into the theological aspect of this issue. I will use the simplest common sense answer. Just know that not being married, gives Catholic Priests the ample opportunities to attend to many people as possible in our pastoral works without hindrance. However, not begin married is a choice. Jesus said it in Mt 19:11-12, “…there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” So it is a choice.
Is your answer not a misunderstanding of what Apostle Paul preached in 1 Corinthians 7:7 where he made it optional for priests to either marry or not?
– You have also answered it already. It is a matter of choice as I said. Nobody is forced to be a celibate in the Catholic Priesthood. It is a free will. Catholic priesthood is only for the few who willingly decided to be Priests. Moreover, we are not complaining. It is a vocation, it is not for all. Mind you, celibacy is a gift from God as well.
Ok, what will happen to a priest who secretly gets married?
He has to leave the Catholic Priesthood. Nobody can have all the seven Sacraments at a time.
Are you aware that some priests have so far married secretly?
I am not aware. Do you know any? It is forbidden for all Catholic priests to be married. To do that is a grave sin in the Church.
If Vatican finds out that a priest has secretly married, what will be done to him?
I said it before, he will be sanctioned and relieved of his pastoral work as a Catholic Priest of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
According to Exodus 3, when Moses, saw the Burning Bush, he was ordered to remove his shoes because he was standing on a Holy Land. Today some churches, interpret that to their members that while going to Church, they must remove their shoes. Do you think such churches are right?
Who am I to judge them my brother? There is freedom of worship in the world. Though I am a Catholic which is Holy and Apostolic, but I can’t claim monopoly of the system of worship of God. God is mysterious. Moreover, the bible said, “Don’t judge.” That is their form of religious worship. In heaven, let God decide who was right. All I say is that my system of worship as a Catholic is good for me. I don’t know about yours.
Catholics have always been criticized for using images to pray, what do you have to say about that?
Hahahaha, those criticizing Catholics about images are doing that out of ignorance. Blessed images of saints or holy pictures, are sacramentals. There is nothing wrong in using them during prayers. They help us to uplift our minds, soul and attention to God during private and public prayers. In Acts 19:11-13, people took aprons and handkerchiefs from Paul and was taking them to cure the sick and demonic powers. Are those aprons not symbols or images? The problem of people is poor understanding of the word of God.
Do you think your explanation is correct considering what the Bible says about images?
The bible in Ex 20:4 said, “Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth” simply because, the Israelites or people of them were making images of different kinds and calling them their God. So God gave them that rule. You forget that it was that same Bible and same God in Num.21:8 that told Moses to make an image of a serpent and put it on a pole so that whoever is bitten by the serpent, that looks on it will not die. Doesn’t it sound like a contradiction then?
Father, many Christian institutions will disagree with you on this strongly.
You see, people are interpreting the bible out of context. We do not call the images God, rather, they remind us of the heavenly presence around us during prayers. It helps us to avoid external and internal distractions, during players. They help us to contemplate about God Himself. If I may ask, the pictures of our dead parents or relatives in our houses, what are their functions for us? Are they our parents or what?
Ok lets go back to Umuaka again. What can you say were your achievements in Umuaka?
I can’t talk about my achievements in Umuaka. Ask people about my achievements. I can’t blow my own trumpet. All I can say is that my days in Umuaka were full of good and glorious memories and thanks to God. It was days of praises to God. It was satisfactory for me by the grace of God. Please, ask this question to another person. If you insist, it will be a topic of it’s own on another edition.
While given the opportunity, would you still like to be posted to Umuaka again?
Hahahaha, I can’t object if the Bishop posts me back to my home Umuaka. But it may not be possible again. Other parts of the diocese are longing for me too.
You live in Hungary, Eastern Europe, what are the good things you have noticed about the country and her people?
Hungarians are almost 80% Christians. They are hospitable too. They have made me to have more love for history. They are historians and good musicians.
How Christian-minded are the people? Do the youths really worship God the way we do in Nigeria?
They have many Christians as I said. In my parish, the youths come to Church very well but not like Nigerians anyway. In Europe generally, Christianity is going down.
You have said some good things about Hungary, can you also tell us the worrisome things you have seen in the country which will never happen in Nigeria?
I don’t know in which aspect. The only thing is that the people are too free. Such freedoms are not good for the future of Christendom. Such freedoms are not too good for the training of children. Such freedoms, can’t exist in Nigeria and are not seen in Nigeria.
Finally, what is your message to Umuaka people?
– Umuaka is a great city. To keep Umuaka, there is need to work on the moral life of the youths. Morality is going down so much now.
Can you explain further please?
Parents should stop comparing their sons with other children. This has led many sons of Umuaka into evil deeds in order to meet up as they would say, so as to please their parents. I will also plead that we stop laying much emphasis on money. This has misled our children and has led to decline in education in Umuaka.
How will Umuaka come back to her glory again?
For Umuaka to come back to its glories again, there should be more programs and emphasis on education than money. Let us look for a way to encourage those youths that have decided to embrace education and other means of authentic ways of life in Umuaka. As I am seeing the youths now, illegal means of wealth, may destroy the future of this our God-given community. Unfortunately, many don’t see anything bad in it. But I tell you, many families are sitting on a time bomb. Posterity may ask us, what did you do?
Was there any other problem you discovered there in Umuaka during your stay?
Another vital evil I discovered among our parents in Umuaka is that 95% of our parents hardly condemns evil in the community. This is why I am afraid of the future of Umuaka. I want to use this opportunity to beg all Akalites to withdraw all unnecessary police cases. Almost all communities in Umuaka have Ezeship cases. My beloved brothers and sisters, this crisis militates against the growth and authentic unity cum brotherhood of this great land Umuaka. Let the elites and Patriots of Umuaka, come together and find a solution for total resolution of all these unwarranted ezeship fights in Umuaka.
If they fail to do as you have suggested, what will be the implications?
If this is not done, tomorrow may be worse than today. But if we are able to do this, the days of Akajiaku, will shine back on this community, when people put Umuaka first before their families. Umuaka has great men and women in all fields of life. Let us come together and build a better Umuaka as some have started doing already. Reach out to those you can assist. The highest investment in life, my people, is human investment.
Tell us your impression of Umuaka Times.
I think Umuaka Times, is doing a great job in awakening good morals and rebranding of Umuaka by bringing out the good values in Umuaka. By doing all these, it has helped to create a sense of dignity and self esteem in the lives of Akalites. The Umuaka Times has shown the world that there are hidden treasures in Umuaka. Please keep the good job. You are adding values and changing life. God bless you all. Long live Umuaka. God loves you and so do I.
We thank you for your time Father.
May God bless you.