Syracuse.Com reports on a great story of a former child soldier celebrating his 25th anniversary serving as a priest.
Sarah Moses of the Post Standard writes:
“The Rev. Ejike Innocent Onyenagubo was 12 years old when he made a life-changing promise to God.
“There was a civil war for three years in Nigeria, and I was fighting the war at the age of 12,” he said. “I prayed, promising if I survived the war I would give my life to service God and his people. I prayed for my family to survive, too.”
Onyenagubo, who is known by many as Father Innocent, said about 2 million people died in the war. His family survived and he kept his promise. Earlier this month, Father Innocent celebrated 25 years as an ordained Catholic priest.
The article goes on to report:
After 10 years in the seminary, he was ordained in the Diocese of Owerri as a priest in 1986. He served for a number of years as a priest and pastor in several different parishes in Nigeria. “Then one day the bishop called me and told me I was going on a mission,” Father Innocent said. “He told me I was going to Syracuse and I said, ‘Where is it?’”
In 1999, Father Innocent arrived in Syracuse to serve as the parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, in Salina. His journey from Ahiazu Mbaise in southeast Nigeria to Central New York was part of Bishop James Moynihan’s international recruitment effort for the Syracuse Catholic Diocese in the late 1990’s.
Father Innocent became a United States citizen in 2008. He said Syracuse is a home for him, but he will go wherever the church needs him. “I’m happy here,” he said. “But I’ll go anywhere God sends me.””
You can read the entire article at http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/former_child_soldier_from_nige.html.