The Silver Jubilee of Priestly Ordination of Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ejiakhianrene Omonlumen kicked started with a novelty football match on Sunday, 1 December 2019 at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church “stadium”, Ekpoma. The Match was between the men of St. Ambrose Mass Centre, Emaudo Ekpoma and those of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, Ebhoakhuala Ekpoma. The match ended in 1-1 draw. At the end of the match, the celebrant, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ejiakhianrene Omonlumen appreciated God, the players and all who were present.
The celebration continued on Monday, 2 December 2019 with Benediction and Vespers. At the end of the Benediction, there was a talk delivered by Very Rev. Fr. Francis Okhah. He reflected on Fr. Omonlumen’s journey to the priesthood and on his priestly ministry in the last twenty-five years.
The grand finale of the celebrations was Tuesday, 3 December 2019, which happened to be the exact day of the Silver Jubilee. The Thanksgiving Mass was graced by Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, the Bishop of Uromi Diocese, Archbishop Emeritus of Benin City Archdiocese, Most Rev. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu who was represented by his Secretary, Rev. Fr. Amos Okhuelegbe, the Archbishop of Benin City Archdiocese, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze who was represented by the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Oyanoafo, scores of priests, deacons and consecrated persons, traditional rulers friends, family members, well-wishers as well as the parishioners of the celebrant.
The thanksgiving Mass was followed by a grand reception within the Church premises. Below is a profile of the celebrant.
A PROTOTYPICAL PRIEST OF GOD AT 25: VERY REV. FR. FRANCIS EJIAKHIANRENE OMONLUMEN
Tu es sarcedos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchizedek
Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ejiakhianrene Omonlumenwas born on April 13th 1964 into the family of Mr. & Mrs. Michael Omonlumhen of Uromi in Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State. He attended Local Authority (L.A.) School, Ubierumu Oke Uromi (now Idumu – Isaba Primary School) from 1971-1977. After his elementary education, he proceeded to Esan Grammar School, Uromi (1978-1983).
He was the Acting Catechist of St. Thomas Catholic Church, Ubierumu Oke Uromi from 1981 till he left for SS. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Ekpoma Campus (now John of the Cross Spiritual Year Ekpoma) on 30thof October 1986 for his Spiritual year programme. On 2nd October 1987, he proceeded to the Main Campus of SS. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija Ibadan, Oyo State where he had his philosophical studies between 1987 and 1991 and obtained a Bachelor of Arts B.A. (Hons) Degree in Philosophy. After his philosophical studies, his formation for the priesthood continued with theological studies from 1991 -1994. He bagged a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) Degree from the Pontifical Urban University Rome at the end of the study. Fr. Francis held several positions of service in his Seminary days. Fr Francis does not only like soccer, he is a grade one referee of the Nigeria Football Association.
He was ordained a Deacon on the 30th of December, 1993 at Holy Cross Cathedral, Benin City by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, then Bishop OF Benin Diocese now Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Benin City. On the 3rd of December, 1994, Rev. Francis was ordained a Priest by His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu at Holy Cross Cathedral Benin City.
Since his Priestly Ordination, Fr. Francis has worked in different places and held different positions: Assistant Parish Priest, Holy Spirit Catholic Church Okhoro, Benin City (1994-1996); Archdiocesan Chaplain, Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (1995-1999); Assistant Parish Priest, St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, Benin City (1996-1999); Administrator, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Ebhoiyi Uromi (1999-2002); Parish Priest, St. Patrick Catholic Church Ebhoiyi Uromi (2002); Administrator, St. Anthony Catholic Church (now St. Anthony Cathedral) Uromi (2002-2004).
Later in 2004 Fr. Francis proceeded on further Studies at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt to study Canon Law. In this specialized area of study, he obtained a Masters in Theology (M.TH.) Degree from the University of Calabar and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) Degree from the Pontifical Urban University Rome, two Universities with which the Institute has affiliation. The studies was from 2004-2007. During his studies in Port Harcourt, Fr. Francis was equally pastorally engaged. He ministered at Corpus Christi Cathedral, Port Harcourt, Rivers State (2005-2007). On his return to the Diocese after studies, Fr. Francis ministered as Parish Priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Igueben (2007-2010). He began lecturing at All Saints Catholic Major Seminary Uhiele Ekpoma and at the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atani Uromi (2008 – till Date). He was appointed Chaplain of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria, Uromi Diocese, from 2008 – till Date. Also, he was Administrator, Ufua Memorial Group of Schools 2008-2015, Member of Liturgical Commission, Uromi Diocese (2008-2010), member of Dialogue/Theological Commission, Uromi Diocese (2008-2011). Dean, defunt Agbazilo Deanery (2009-2015).
From 2010-2016, Fr. Francis was Parish Priest of St. Benedict Catholic Church Ubiaja. In 2015, Most Rev. Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun, having been installed Bishop of Uromi Diocese, appointed Very Rev. Fr. Francis Omonlumen as Vicar General of Uromi Diocese, a position he holds till date. In 2016 Most Rev. Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun appointed him Parish Priest of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church Ekpoma where he currently ministers. Also, since 2017, Fr. Francis has been the Priest-in-Charge of St. Ambrose Catholic Church, Emaudo Ekpoma, a young, vibrant and fast growing church he, together with his assistants, has nurtured with much love and sacrifices. In 2018, Fr. Francis was appointed Provincial Chaplain of the Catholic Charismatic of Nigeria, Benin Ecclesiastical Province, a position he holds till date.
Thanks to the abilities and graces with which he is endowed by God and his very positive disposition to the service of Holy Mother Church, Fr. Francis is an active member of the following bodies in the Church: College of Consultors, Uromi Diocese; Presbyteral Council, Uromi Diocese; Legal Commission, Uromi Diocese; Uromi Diocesan Medical Board; Project Commission, Uromi Diocese. He is a Lecturer at the Institute of Theological Studies, Uromi Diocese and a Defender of the Bond, Inter-diocesan Marriage Tribunal of Benin City Eccesistical Province (2008 till Date).
Fr. Francis enjoys teaching, and has passion for Canon Law, an area in which he is specialized. He is a man of prayer, a lover of truth and discipline and an architect cum promoter of community life, especially among Diocesan priests and seminarians. He also has a very large heart. His commitment to his priestly duties has continually inspired vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The letter to Hebrews says: Every high priest is chosen from among men and appointed to act on behalf of men and women in their relations with God, to offer gift and sacrifices for sins (5:5). For the past 25 years, Fr. Francis has labored tirelessly and meritoriously in the Lord’s vineyard, offering gifts and sacrifices on behalf of the people of God, for their sanctification and for the glorification of God.
We are grateful to God for the life of this quintessential Priest of God, a priest we are so proud of, a priest we can sincerely see and follow as a model. We are grateful to God for his sustaining graces in his priestly life and ministry in these last twenty-five (25) years of active and fruitful pastoral ministry.
We wish him God’s choicest blessings as well as the grace of final perseverance in the journey of perfection in the years to come.
Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (To God be the glory)!
Ad multos annos, Pater Reverendissime!