THE CRY OF A PRIEST

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Okami

As I drove back from Lagos to my small village in Isolo-Opin, I was praying and hoping someone will just send me a token to cater for some basic needs and fulfil some of the commitments of charity I made.

The whole of last Sunday collection, I used half to purchase fuel, I used half to pay someone’s hospital bills. Meaning, I am broke already #broken like the bread I break daily#

While I was driving and hoping, someone called me and begged me to help her, she needs 20k for her daughter’s school fees and it’s urgent. I promised next week though I am sure my whole collection won’t be up to that- a collection that I am not even at liberty to dispense as I will.

After a while, a boy who just requested me to be his spiritual director, sent a message telling me he is so broke and he needs help. I answered with a deep sigh.

I got home still hoping for alert, one of my youths who just got admitted to Kwara poly told me they will close porter next week, she has got only 20k out of school fees of 64k and then the cry “Fr, please don’t let me lose this admission, I suffered so much pains and delay before getting it.” I told her I will try and do something – even though I don’t know how I can help.

After my evening mass today, a woman came crying and begging for help for her sick son, she wants to pay hospital bills.

Just this night, I am checking messages on Watsapp and someone from my former parish is using God’s name to beg me to buy her sowing machine.

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I just became sad suddenly. I am now asking myself…

Who is a priest? What do people think about us? Something like “they have money but don’t have family so no responsibility.”

A man once came to beg me for a loan of 850 thousand naira and he put “only”, my whole collection for a year is not up to that.

Please, dear people, have mercy on us, it is abnormal for a priest to be rich, we took vow of voluntary poverty and indeed many of us are poor

We are only struggling to live Well, we also have a catalogue of responsibilities, we must develop the parish, we must buy drugs, take care of where we live, service our vehicle and put things in order for worship and remit to the diocese or our congregations. We have families and relatives too.

We are not the owner of those money you see in collection boxes.

Even what we spend, we must account for it as a matter of justice and conscience.

A priest is to live on your charity not for you to saddle the priests with burdens and yokes of responsibilities.

Some even come to lie to get help, I can’t count how many people have requested phones from me- without knowing the struggle and tension between my present phone and I, some even steal from the priests,from the Church’s treasury and some even steal the priest himself.

Pls have mercy on us, we are not exactly what many of you are thinking. The jeep you see us ride most times is a gift and a pastoral necessity, not a luxury, we need them not to prove we are rich but to access that stony, holly and Sandy outstations where souls are waiting and most times the fuel we buy is more than the collection we get.

We are to receive charity and dispense prudently according to reasonable bounds.

We are ordained primarily to be your spiritual guard and help and connect you to God in the path of salvation.

Please show us some mercy and re-order your perception and help your priests to be focused and serve you in his proper capacity.

Fr Emmanuel Okami is a Catholic priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. 

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