Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 19, 2007
God guided St. Benedict's chaplain to the priesthood
Nigerian-born Fr. Collins Okafor's story illustrates the need for God
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"The charismatic renewal is where you experience the brotherhood of God."
- Fr. Collins Okafor
Okafor has also learned that when one returns to God, one returns to the community of God, which starts with the family.
"If we live by ourselves, we live away from God," he said. "As a child I wanted to be with myself, but I discovered that I wasn't happy. Other children were much happier than I was. Life is better when it is lived in the community, with the people of God."
After his experience with the charismatic movement, Okafor's desire to be a lawyer faded and he decided to join the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy order of priests instead.
He had to quit after two years of seminary because of lack of funds. But a group of girls from Mary's League gave him enough money to return to the seminary. Soon he found enough money to buy books and fund the remainder of his seminary years.
Following his ordination, Okafor served in Cameroon and Nigeria before coming to Edmonton.
In Cameroon he found the parish had very little in its account. A Sunday collection would raise the equivalent of $2.50.
"But then I learned to trust in God," he said. "I learned that God is in control - that no matter what the challenges, if you trust in him, he will provide."
The parish, with Okafor at the helm, started selling millet below cost and soon had enough money to run its programs and to help some poor children complete their school.
"The joy of being a Christian is being able to help others and being accessible to others," the priest said. "As a Christian you are the light of the world and the salt of the earth to others."
Okafor came to Canada at the invitation of the Edmonton Archdiocese some three years ago and has served as associate pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Edmonton, part-time chaplain at the University of Alberta Hospital and chaplain of St. Benedict Chapel.
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