Our correspondent, Mr. Plus Dukor, was at Bodo City in Gokana LGA of Rivers State, he ran into the Parish Priest of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Bodo, Rev. Fr. Abel Agbolu recently. In a brief chat, the parish priest expressed concern over a number of issues and some of his challenges in 2012 and his plan in the years ahead. Excerpts:
Question: What is your name sir?
Ans: My name is Rev. Fr. Abel Agbolu
Ques: What position do you hold in St. Patrick Catholic Church Bodo?
Ans: I am the Parish Priest of Church.
Question: What program do you have for 2013, as the year just began?
Ans: The big program is to key in to the Universal Church’s ‘Catechatical’ program, which is the acronym for the “Year of Faith”, and the one we are going to celebrate the most is the teaching on marriage which we are inviting a special guest speaker, an expert. He is canonist and a Vincentian missionary Priest, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Bassey Lokolo, presently on sabbatical leave in Makurdi Benue State. I heard a chat with him and he is open to run the Catechatical week which will be in February, and we hope to give it a wide coverage and essence of it is to go through the catechism, the book that teaches the doctrine and the section of marriage. The reason why l thought that is very proper is, marriage union of man and woman is a special issue here, especially the plight of women, the plight of widows and also whole thing about Sira’s female daughter who happens to be a good catholic; how does she merge or march the custom with faith? How will you deal with the issue of illegitimate children with the issue of baptism, the children that Sira give birth to? So those are technical issues that I thought this year will be an opportunity to enlighten the culture, and the culture also will speak out for itself.
Que: What about the rate of divorce in the Christendom and not only in the catholic faith, how are you going to treat that?
Ans: I think it is frightening. I will say in every ten marriage you have five likely to break up in 10 years which is really astronomical. Like you rightly said in Christendom all over the world, is a phenomenon, is a human factor now, just like the global warming is really shows that the world is ageing, the ice can no longer hold, and is becoming liquid, so also marriage is no longer holding, its crumbling there is sense of snapping, there is a snapping at the center, the church has to deal with it from its own angle. The institution seems to have lived for too long and is calling for a change, crying for a disillusion kind of and marriage is a microcosm of that.
Ques: Please, can you review in brief that year, how was it to you, the year 2012 as a Parish Priest, in this very great community, what where your challenges and what did you over come?
Ans: Ooh! 2012 was a year of exploration for me. You know with the explorer you walk into a forest and you the explorer is the one stepping into covens, shifting ground, shaking things that have been there without being aware. I think 2012 could be described like that for me. It was a year like Uu-h ! Wao ! Things that you do from a clear point of view and like the anniversary you mentioned off-record was an eye opener for me. It was opening up an eight year old wound, people who thought we can not do it and a whole lot of argument. Like people who really think the church did not actually start from here, the Khana people has their own argument, is quite interesting, that was one. This chapel, the chapel of Adoration, was another very major experience that I had to go through, so many interest and of cause bottom-line money, there are people who either were daunted by the amount of money being spent, people who thought they should have been part of the “Bodo Cake” and I don’t want to call it national cake, even those contractors who are the contractors themselves, managing their own style and I been the one at the centre I have to confront those issues, emm… I have think a lot of Priests thought my style was completely un-orthodox. Thank God, not the content but the style and I just said well, I have waded through a lot of waters and they don’t expect me to swim like them.
Ques: When you talk about the issue of un-orthodox, what do you mean, and what were your challenges?
Ans: To my amazement, the demons did not confront me directly and even the people who were idolaters, people who possess those idols just gave them up to me. There was a preponderance, there was a power surrounding me, I did not feel anything. I simply demanded and they brought it. I knew then of course it was God, so from that end there was no direct confrontation but there were people who felt the status- quo, prior to all these call it spiritual endevours, the status quo fitted them well, so I kind of off-set the climate that they are used to and because I happened to be standing on the platform that has the majority of the people here, meaning as a catholic priest, it and a community that has 80% catholic, they could not but speak into my activity in that regard. There were some that are for it, there were some that are against it, it is not too common. May be they prefer if I had either ignored it or if I did not go into it at all. You know a lot of people don’t like ‘wahala’ for me ‘wahala’ is fun especially when you have good intent, life is fun, if you do not plug the string there will not be sound; plug that string let there be sound and the many sounds you produce the much music you get and life is music. So that was it and again when you produce a harmonium the end result is positive, why don’t you be that musician, that was how I analyse their reaction. Some came and some were bitter about it; I wasn’t bitter about it. If I had camera I would have snapped those bitter faces.
Ques: Lastly, if you look closely there, you will see a hall that has been there for quite some years. Even if you have not stayed for longer time, how did you see that hall being skeletal like that?
Ans: That hall you see, there are two gigantic buildings juxtapose, the former is bigger than the latter, and when I came, the latter seemed to have fault, the pillars are not really correctly kind of put and to proceed, I have to correct that fault; then to revert to the original I had to get to the fact that it was going to cost more. It’s now 100% costlier than when the original builder laid the foundation. So we have been debating; I have thrown the debate open, I made it public both from the church council point of view and the lay person, people are reacting, some people say don’t break it and some say break it but I am determined to commence. I want to start to build the hall, I want to actualize it in my time, the dream of the Priest who started the hall. Obviously, is going to involve scattering of something and building of something.