A REFLECTION ON THE RESIGNATION OF REV. FR PATRICK HENRY EDET OF CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF UYO.

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“From Today Henceforth, I cease to be a Catholic Priest, in my spirit and in my soul… I forgive those who will criticize me, I live for God…I seek freedom for my soul. As I leave, I leave smiling, I AM SO HAPPY THAT I AM FREE… You can now call me Rev Patrick Edet but on a lighter note you can still call me Fr”… Revd Fr Patrick Edet.

Oh Revd Fr Patrick Henry Edet!

My brother, my cousin, my friend and Priest. A man of grace who rose from the pit to the palace.

You taught me how to HOLD ON WHEN IT WAS EASIER FOR ME TO GIVE UP.

It’s really very painful to see you dessert the flocks God has put in your care. An Igbo proverb says that the thought one conceives before committing suicide is not only a day’s thought. Before you were ordained a priest, you made a vow which you have decided to abandon for reasons best known to you and to some extent the issues you had with the church authority as well as your incessant attack on the universal Church that made you as a teacher of the word. It’s just like a man abandoning his wife and children when he faces an uncertain challenges.

Fr Patrick, As a priest, your job is to serve God and lead souls to Christ. Catholic Church as a religious organization has rules and regulations. It’s not run by only one person’s emotions, rules and ideas.

If a priest finds out that his own divine inspirations no longer conforms with that of the Catholic Church and he wants to go to a place where he can operate without control, it’s entirely his business, but the church must continue to pray for him to return to his call in the body of Christ.

Many priests before you who were once very popular and admired by the faithfuls left when the ovation was loudest only to discover that the grace of admiration and fellowship which spurred them into greater spiritual heights have departed.

I do not wish this for you my dear brother.

They wallow in self pity, confusion and live in the shadow of the past. God is served in truth and in spirit not by necessarily living your church. This I know of and would always stand on.

It’s like a captain abandoning his ship. For him to leave the church,to me It’s not the best, but let the will of God prevail and the light of God guide him in all his ways.

The ‘fame’ you have and enjoy today was given to you by the church for she gave you the platform and you leaving the Church would not diminish the glory and Graces bestowed on the holy universal Church.

I read from an extract of your interview that you have been in bondage before now and that you are now free. This reminds me of my elementary days as a student of Philosophy of a popular maxim that “man was born free but everywhere in chain…” J.J Rousseau.

I appreciate the bondages that formed you and made you what you are today after so many years as a Catholic priest.

Life itself is full of challenges. If you can not stand the challenges, intricacies, pains, trials, politics and troubles of the Catholic Priesthood after so many years, then where lies your faith in times of trials and tribulations. What about the words of admonitions, homilies you have always preached and dished out?

They were practically evident in our day to day activities as we have always applied them. How come they are not practically evident in your life? When it was easier for you to give up, you held on. Why now that we see you as a voice to reckon with?

I recall your formative years in the seminary and our discussion back then in Lagos when you are on holiday with your Elder brother, mentor and friend. You said the only thing that matters to you then and always is to be a happy Catholic priests and win souls for Christ and obey your Bishop, then Bishop Ekuwem and now Archbishop. You have always emphasized that the golden rule of the Catholic Priesthood is obedience to your Bishop and the church. As a seminarian, you decried and frowned at how priests disobeyed their BISHOP- with particular reference to Uyo Catholic Diocese our Diocese.

I recall how you longed to break the yoke of becoming an ordained Catholic Priest from Uko-Akpan, Enwang that longed embraced Catholicism close to a century now as those who went before you could not complete the journey to the sacred priesthood.

I recall also how you would not want to celebrate your first mass in far away Mbukpo Eyokan the parish as we were an outstation to them because of the distance and the rough terrain then. Why, because you would not want to stress the poor men and women in the church who are petty traders and into substinence fishing. Such was the love you had for the church and your community.

As God would have it, St Peter Uko-Akpan was proclaimed a quasi parish by the Bishop before your ordination and we all gathered to celebrate this at the parish in the village after your ordination at St Peter Catholic Chaplaincy, Uniuyo. What a joyous day.

I remember your first year anniversary which was held in our home parish and hosted by your classmate, friend and brother, Late Fr Donatus who was the parish priest and prior to that, you released an album to thank God for a it possible for you to be a priest and all he has been able to do through you as a priest in his altar.

The then Bishop saw the gifts in you and made you the Diocesan Chaplain of Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Uyo Diocese. What you enjoyed today in terms of God’s grace as the spiritual director of Grace Adoration Family of Catholic Diocese of Uyo was the manifestation of what God did through you by that singular privilege given to you to pastor the people of God in the Charismatic way, giving them pastoral guidance.

You were not in bondage then as you claim now because you were in the pit then and now that you have found yourself in the palace, you swiftly realised you have been in the bondage before now.

The bondage also gave you the fame and privileges you enjoy now. I do not need to be told because you are surrounded with them. Getting to have you pick your calls now or see you was a Herculean task as it was easier for the Camel to pass the needle than to have an audience with you asily like we used to when you could not comprehend what bondage was all about.

I know you were faced with so many challenges from your brother priests. No thanks to your lazy brother priests who were envious of your gifts. I was thought and know that by the virtues of the calling of a Priest, they all have callings and it can only be activated by them.

You activated yours… They became envious… Your troubles started with so many of them as the architect… Your persecution started with them and you could not manage it as a preacher of the word and a man of faith.

So many Church father’s faced persecution… Stephen was persecuted, St Paul was persecuted and so many others. They held on. Men of faith with badges of honour.

So many Catholic priests have been up persecuted long before your time and so many would be persecuted after you. The unborn child who is coming to be a priest someday would be persecuted.

Late Fr Stephen NJOKU was persecuted. I need not to tell you of that of Revd Fr Ejike Mbaka. Fr Anthony Mario Ozele is a study in this regard. He is and remains an actor in this season movie of ‘persecution’ of priests in Nigeria.

Actor no dey die for film because if actor die for film… E mean say the film no go sweet again or the film soon end.

Fr Patrick as actor playing a lead role in this movie should not end this movie or make it uninteresting by quitting.

So many priests have threaded this path he is about to take because of their selfish interest and personal aggrandisement buy lost woefully. So manu of then even struggle for attention even in the social media. Their lives have never been the same except for those who could not continue for reason being that they cannot continue and cope with the celibate life. Statistics have showed that only an infinitesimal proportion make a life after priesthood.

I pray he lands safely.

Nothing would shake or change the holy mother Church. Priests come and go.

I feel for our loving Bishop John Ayah who is heartbroken now having given you all the support and love a father could give even at a cost.

Fr Patrick did not manage this love and care showered on him by his father and bishop.

I learnt from a reliable source that he tendered his resignation letter on the 31st of July and the bishop is yet to approve of it but requested his fellow priests remember him in his decision.

He is a man of himself and he can so wish decide between what is good and bad… The people he is leaving behind and their fate.

I want to conclude this reflection I hurriedly drafted by aligning my thoughts with Rev. Fr. Akan Amos on this subject matter where he posited that, Heraclitus had posited that the only thing that doesn’t change is change. So change is constant in our changing society. But in my deeper reflection, change could change because it is under the authority of the creator. Therefore, the only thing that doesn’t change is God. He changes change and still remain unchanged.
Any human person can change to something good or bad. Any administration can change. Life itself exchanges change from living to dying.

But Catholic priesthood has her bond directly from God. From her origin with the hierarchical succession, Jesus exclaimed, ‘You’re Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not overpower it’.

The priesthood is a ‘forever thing’!

If a priest leaves the Catholic church because he feels he has another or a ‘higher’ calling, what actually will he be doing that he was not doing before?
Oh except being accountable which is rooted in absolute obedience to the Church? Establishing a new lifestyle that is unchecked? Could this be the freedom our fallen brethren mean each time they leave us?

Also, if God’s grace and mercy is boundless, what makes a priest who leaves or rather who claims to have ceased being a priest think he can develop another ministry that will be ‘more full of grace and breakthrough?’

Does God operate based on denominations? Why jumping from something to nothing? Could it be identity crisis or the quest to attract attention to oneself instead of the universal church? I don’t intend to judge here. Am only thinking aloud

To be free- Free to do what? At this point Jean Rousseau comes to mind. He says, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.”
I think there’s no absolute freedom for anyone. If there’s any, then it should be freedom to do the right thing, at the right place and in the right believe.

And I end with this…..”I believe in the Holy spirit, the Holy Catholic church, the communion of saints…..I believe in One, Catholic and Apostolic church” I believe in the priesthood of Christ!

Please, pray for your priests!!!

I pray for the repose of the soul of MSGR Patrick Somide, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, a priest, soldier and disciplinarian who was buried today after 97 years on earth and 63years as a Catholic priest.

I pray for renewal in spirit and calling for all the priests who are observing their annual retreat at this period, especially the Priests of Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta.

I know REVD FR Patrick Henry Edet would come across this post someday. I hope you would not use it against me.

I am still your brother and you have moulded us to be like this. Bold to confront as long we are doing the right thing.

I pray for you.
I pray your family.
I pray for St Peter Uko-Akpan.
I pray for Uko Akpan.
I pray for Enwang.
I pray for Mbo.
I pray for the Catholic Diocese of Uyo.
I pray for the Catholic Church in Nigeria.

May we all be comforted.

Ukut Chris
Uko-Akpan, Enwang
Mbo LGA.
Akwa Ibom State.

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