Ordinations to the Priesthood - Rome, 4 July 2020

With concelebrants and guests wearing masks, four African Augustinians were ordained to the priesthood in the Basilica of St Augustine, Rome, by Rt Rev. Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, on 4 July 2020. Ordinarily they would have been ordained in their home countries, but due to the pandemic, the ordinations took place in the city where they are currently studying.

They represent the internationality of the Order. Fr Jean-Paul Django Diby OSA (38) is from the Ivory Coast and a member of the Belgian Province; Fr Nicodemus Anthony Pam OSA (35) and Fr Cosmas Ifeanyi Chukwuemeka OSA (28) are from Nigeria; and Fr Emmanual Kipchumba Bungei OSA (28) is from Kenya.

The liturgy was conducted principally in Italian, but there were contributions in Igbo, Hausa, French and English. Bishop Grech gave an impassioned homily on the need for priests to go out into the world to bring the Gospel to the hungry in body and spirit. The priesthood and religious life is not about fuga mundi, flight from the world, he said, but about entering into its depths to find the incarnate God, Christ, there. He quoted from Pope Francis, who uses the image of Christ inside the Church knocking on the door wanting to get out - a reverse image of the popular one of Christ outside trying to get in.

As family members were unable to attend, the service was live-streamed to Africa. The small number of guests comprised religious sisters and friends, some of whom made up the choir together with students from the Augustinian College of St Monica, where the ordinands live. The music had a distinctly African flavour. A reception followed in St Monica’s.

Bishop Mario Grech is a close friend of the Augustinians, and is currently living with the Augustinians in the Curia (the Prior General and his administration), as he is midway between moving from his diocese in Malta to a senior position in the Vatican dealing with the Synod of Bishops.