By Simon Reef Musa
NEWSDAILYNIGERIA -On 3rd March, 1969, a child that would be christened Williams Kaura was born to the family of Mr. Abba Katung who was one of the few who brought the Catholic faith to Godogodo in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The birth of the child had brought great joy as he was seen as bearing great potential for the future. He would later be enrolled in school to complete his basic education at the LEA Gwalake, Godogodo in 1982.
Thereafter, the young Williams proceeded to Kafanchan Teacher’s College from 1982 to1987. His early upbringing and craving for spiritual activities and rendering service to God in church culminated into an unquenchable yearning for the priesthood. The road to realising his priestly calling was not devoid of an early attraction to an Irish priest, Father O’kraine who proved a great inspiration. This attraction had started early in the life of little Williams when he was in Primary Four.
Daily prayers by the Abbas were not negotiable as family members were expected to attend morning prayers as early as 4am. Father Abba recalls, “Thereafter, we went to the church for community morning prayers that usually ended at 5.30am. We would later return home to prepare for the farm to do some work before coming back to prepare for school.”
After completion of his secondary education in 1987, the teenager went to live with his uncle, a Baptist, in Kaduna where he picked up a job as a casual worker at the Kaduna Textile Limited (KTL). While working, he met a young seminarian, Fidelis Audi, now late, who had come to visit his relations close to Williams’ uncle in Kaduna. That chance meeting with the seminarian reinvigorated Williams’ thirst for the priesthood. Worshipping with Fidelis at the St Andrew’s Catholic Church, Kakuri invoked on the KTL casual worker a fresh desire to pursue his priesthood dream. After sharing his dream with Fidelis, the seminarian would provide encouragement and support.
In demonstration of his steadfast faith to become a priest, Williams applied and was admitted as a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Jos. He was at St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi, Benue State (1988-1991) and St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos, Plateau State, where he completed his studies on Philosophy and Theology.
Williams was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Kafanchan that was created on 10th July, 1995, with the consecration and installation of the Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri taking place in October 1995. Father Abba’s ordination on 9th December, 1995 did not end his quest for additional academic laurels, as he also attended other world renowned academic institutions, among them are Universita Per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy (2001), Pontificia Universita’ Urbaniana, Rome (2001-2003), and Goethe Cultural Institute, Lagos, Nigeria (2010-2011).
His rich educational sojourn of many years earned him the following certificates: Primary School Leaving Certificate (1982); Grade II Teacher’s Certificate (1987); West African Examinations Council (2014); Certificate in Communications Studies (1994); Diploma in Philosophy (1990), Diploma in Religious Studies (1994); Bachelor of Sacred Theology (B.S.T) Theology (1995) and Licenciate (L.Phil) Philosophy (2003).
More than 25 years after his ordination as a priest, Father Abba has used his priestly service and ingenuity to minister to both the helpless and voiceless. Apart from showing kindness to the flock under him, the Catholic priest has stretched his passion in reaching out to humanity across religious barriers, including providing pastoral guidance to diverse people. As a priest, he embraced unalloyed loyalty to the priesthood in faithfully serving God and guiding the flock placed under his care.
Father Abba has been saddled with several pastoral responsibilities at St. Michael’s Parish, Kunyai (1996-1999); St. Paul’s Parish, Fadan Kagoma (1999-2001); Synod Delegate, Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan (2012); Priest-in-Charge, St. Raymond’s Catholic Church, Sabon Gari Chori (2012-2014); Member, Presbyterian Council (2013-2018); Member, Board of Consultors (2013-2018); Parish Priest, St. James Catholic Church, Fori (2015-2020); and now the Parish Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Madakiya, among others.
This intellectual cleric also served as a Lecturer/Dean, Department of Philosophy, St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi (2003-2010). He is currently serving as the Parish Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Madakiya and also doubles as a Lecturer/Academic Dean, Department of Philosophy, St. Albert Institute, Fadan Kagoma, since 2011.
Over 25 years as an ordained Catholic priest, Father Abba has become a symbol of both cerebral prowess and strong pillar of advocacy towards a new dawn for all ethnic groups living in Southern Kaduna. This religious leader has turned the pulpit into a veritable platform for preaching against injustice, as well as providing a mirror for his people to know what they are and where they are coming from. More than many clerics, Father Abba remains a steady voice in standing up consistently for the truth for the overall good of all groups.
As religious leader devoted for the good of humanity, Father Abba has added scholarly inquest in exploring issues and proffering solutions on challenges confronting the growth of our nation and citizens. In examining these issues that have retarded our growth and expanded our fault lines, Father Abba stands tall in the forefront of seeking solutions to some of our intractable challenges as a nation.
As he celebrates his 25th priestly ordination anniversary on Tuesday April 6, 2021 at the St Paul Catholic Church Madakiya, in Zangon Kataf LGA, the event is to feature the public presentation of two books he has authored. The books are ‘From The Pulpit To The Public: Quenching The Flames Of Division’ and ‘Inclusion, Fairness And Good Governance: ‘A Pragmatic Philosophy Of Patrick Yakowa.’ Having had the honour of reading these books, it is certain that Father Abba has immortalised his footprints in both his priestly vocation and dazzling academic brilliance.
Both books are products of many years of the cleric’s painstaking labours. While the first book is a collection of some of his liturgies, speeches at academic and social events over the years, the second is a scholarly rendezvous into the dynamics behind the governance footprints of late Sir Patrick Yakowa who served as governor of Kaduna State from May 2010 December 15, 2012. It offers profound insight in evolving templates for building inclusiveness in a nation raging in mutual suspicion.
The in-depth understanding of the priesthood in Abba is clearly demonstrated in various liturgies during marriages, burials, thanksgiving, among others, that are succinctly captured in ‘From The Pulpit To The Public: Quenching The Flames Of Division.’ In a manner reminiscent of the United States America’s black rights advocate, Rev Martin Luther King Jr, Father Abba deploys his ecclesiastical calling to console the bereaved, shares in moments of joy during marriages and dedication of babies and provides hope to those living in the lowest valley of despair. The book, ‘Inclusion, Fairness And Good Governance: ‘A Pragmatic Philosophy Of Patrick Yakowa,’ is an exploration into the manner the astute disposition of Yakowa played in promoting inclusiveness to unite various ethnic nationalities and ensuring justice for various minority groups within a political entity. Taking a complete look at the life and times of Yakowa who died in an air crash on 15th December, 2012 in Bayelsa State, the cerebral religious leader insists that the life of the late politician provides useful lessons on how to promote unity through the strategy of inclusiveness for all groups.
For Father Abba, who turned 52 this month, his jubilee priestly ordination anniversary is a clear attestation of God’s awesome grace upon him. Beyond serving as a voice for the promotion of peaceful co-existence among various ethnic groups in his native Southern Kaduna, he has remained an irrevocable advocate for broadening both economic and political opportunities to serve all religious and ethnic groups.
There is no doubt that the spiritual devotion and endless intellectual prowess of this cerebral priest have continued to serve as inspiration to many within and outside his spiritual domain. No wonder, Father Abba remains a voice whose relevance will continue to be sought after in the many decades to come. I wish Father Abba good health and prosperity has he continues to serve God and fatherland. Happy belated birthday wishes to the scholarly priest making a huge and positive difference in our lives as citizens and brother’s keeper for our humanity!