NIGERIA | The Second Member of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic from Africa makes Profession
The recognition of the members of the Priestly Fraternities of St Dominic as a part of the Order is still very new in most parts of the Order in Africa. Even in the Order at large, many friars and sisters still do not understand how a Diocesan priest can be a Dominican at the same time. This is why the just concluded International Meeting of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic is very important to awaken and spread the knowledge of the existence and true identity of this branch of our family.
At the just concluded meeting, there were two participants from Africa. Fr Charles Ukwe, the Prior Provincial of the Province of St Joseph the Worker, Nigeria and Ghana and Fr. Ray-Maria Jackson Umoh, a priest of the Diocese of Uyo, Nigeria. Fr Ray-Maria has become the first member of the Priestly Fraternities of St Dominic from Nigeria and the second from Africa. He attained this status when he made his profession on Wednesday, 24th of February in the hands of fr Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order.
Fr Ray-Maria was a member of the Order in Nigeria from 1983 to 1988 after which he left to join his home diocese. That period was enough for him to study and fall in love with the works of great Dominicans (like St Catherine of Siena, Henry Suso, Meister Eckhart etc.), The Life of the Brethren and the Dominican Spirituality. He embedded the Dominican tradition of assiduous study and community life so much that it never left him even after he left the Order.
After his ordination as a diocesan priest, he was sent to the Anglicum to study Theology with and under the guidance of the Dominicans. During that period, with the encouragement of his Dominican friends and tutors, he felt once again the burning desire to return to the Order.
Fr Ray-Maria is currently a Parish Priest and a Chancellor in his home diocese. “Working with my Bishop in the Chancery everyday reminds me of St Dominic and Bishop Diego of Osma”, says Fr Ray-Maria. He is elated for the opportunity to return to his first love – the Dominican life and spirituality. He sees it as “a home coming”.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Luanda, Angola, Cardinal Alexandre Do Nascimento has been the first and only member of the Priestly Fraternities in Africa. Fr Ray-Maria is now the second member.
fr. Florentino Bolo, OP