Many have been joyfully expectant ahead of the 25th anniversary of the ordination of the amiable, charitable and highly cerebral Very Rev. Fr. Ifeanyi Jude Onyebadi as a Catholic Priest, which is billed to be officially celebrated on Saturday 4th May, 2019, at the SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Issele-Azagba, Aniocha north local government area, Delta State.
Though Father Jude clocked 25 in Priesthood on December 4, 2018, which he marked same day by celebrating it with some less privileged lepers at Osiomo.
His friends and colleagues, however, decided that they must officially celebrate him in the month of May 2019 as evidential Thanksgiving to God for what He has done in Father Jude’s life and to man for their payers, support and Godly partnerships.
Going memory lane in an interview with our medium, Father Jude simply said it has always been good and that God has found him worthy for favour these 25 years of service in His vineyard.
“As a child, born into a Catholic home, I had always admired Rev. Fathers and dreamt to become one.
When I got admitted into the Seminary, one major challenge that almost disqualified me from achieving my aim of becoming a Priest was stammering. It was so serious, but God used the Rev. Fr. in charge of us to see me through. The Father took so much interest in me, which challenged me to leave above stammering and the challenge miraculously vanished from me.
After I graduated from Ekpoma, I moved to Bodija in Ibadan where I did Philosophy and Theology.
When I became a Priest, I saw it as a fulfilment of God’s purpose upon my life. Priesthood is a call to serve God and man. It’s not one’s ability to make it happen, God must call one into the office of a Priest. And 25 years in the Service, I see myself fulfilled and energized for the tasks ahead.
I was ordained on December 4, 1993 and barely three months into my ordination, I was appointed Coordinator of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), to take care of hopeless situations. It was challenging for me for 11 years, travelling and fighting humanitarian cases and hopeless situations; but I didn’t know God was preparing me for greater assignments in that direction. It became my ministry even after handing over the mantle of leadership of JDPC.
When I left the JDPC, it became more challenging handling the tasks the church had bequeathed to me. Some of those hopeless situations became my personal concerns. In a bid to cater for these people individually, God gave me a vision to create a foundation through the Farm to carry on with the task.
And that was how Ifeanyi Farms Limited was born in 2008. We went into Agriculture, producing pineapples through which we take care of these less privileged groups God has put in my care. Today, God has continued to use us to meet the welfare needs of widows, educational needs of less privileged and orphaned children, including helping many through skills and entrepreneurial empowerments to survive and succeed in life”, Rev. Jude narrated.
It is pertinent to state that having followed the activities of Ifeanyi Farms Ltd Issele-Uku, so much has happened in uplifting the cause of humanity. And these have always been duly recognised through the numerous awards the Farm and his chief operator, Rev. Fr. Jude have received. One of such profound awards is the CBN 2010 Best Farmer in Delta State.
Very Rev. Fr. Onyebadi has always left his Godly and philanthropic footprints at every location he was posted for missionary assignments under the Issele-Uku Diocese. He has served as Parish Assistant Priest and Priest at St. John Agbor, St. Luke Emuhu, Holy Trinity Ewulu, St. Jude Owa-Oyibu, St. Dominic Okwe, St. Matthew’s Parish Idumuje-Unor and now Resident Priest at SS Peter and Paul Parish Issele-Azagba respectively.
This dependable Priest had also held sway as the Secretary of the Diocesan Medical Board, Diocesan Projects, New Ecclesiastical Province, Provincial Administrator of JDPC for seven years, Vice Chairman of Catholic Prisons Chaplains for four years, appointed Member of African Peer Review Mechanism by Olusegun Obasanjo Government and others too numerous to mention.
As his 25th anniversary message, Very Rev. Fr. Jude Onyebadi advised the church generally to keep moulding lives and telling the truth at all times without minding whose ox is gored.
According to him, “The hope of those following us as religious leaders should not be dashed by our own conducts and behaviours. We must be able to braze up with the challenges in our society and without personal interests, deal with issues critically as God’s representatives here on earth.
I have a fulfilled life already, I am looking forward to leaving behind an enduring legacy. The church has done so much for me, I must in turn bequeath a legacy that will continue to touch lives even after I am gone. I am not looking for anything again, but to make the lives of those looking up to me better.
Everyday I have reasons to thank God. I don’t know what I would have done without being a Priest. I am happy for using the medium of Priesthood to change lives and giving them hope to live. The church should be a soul for the soulless and be able to create a heart where there is none”, the Priest Farmer explained.
Going forward, Father Jude maintained that at this point in his life, he would want to mentor those who will take over from him. He acknowledged the important role the mentorship of Monsignor John K.A Aniagwu, Bishops Gbuji, Otte and Elue; and Arch Bishop Augustine Akubeze played in his life.
He also appreciated Rev. Frs. Kennedy (an Augustinian Priest), Mark Nwoko and Martin for learning under his tutelage and today are accomplished Priests in their own rights; adding that he wished to do more to mentor others in the work and service of God.
Moreover, it promises to be a memorable day, as feelers have it that friends, colleagues, well wishers and spiritual children of Rev. Fr. Jude Onyebadi are adequately preparing to awesomely celebrate the 25th priestly anniversary of a man who had given it all up for the service of others. Father Jude is a man who is compassionate for humanity; always taking so much interest in seeing others succeed and happy in life.
Perhaps, May 4 as an official day to celebrate this quintessential man of God, presents an opportunity to honour him for what God has used him to do in the lives of many. He has given hope to the hopeless and has become a bridge of salvation, love and mentoring in his world.