Entrance into Ministry.
Sam was ordained a Deacon of the Anglican Communion on 23rd December, 1956. People wondered why he decided to tread a Terrain which did not offer any attraction and was regarded as the most unprofitable in terms of human estimation. They felt he wasn’t doing badly in his job as a clerk in the electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) where he was working.
See also Life and Times of Bishop Elenwo, Samuel Onyuku. Part 1
Despite the mixed feelings from friends and some relatives concerning his ordination,the reaction from Sam’s parents and relations back at home was quite encouraging. According to Sam:
“My parents and relatives were quite delighted, more so with the fact that the Anglican Church of that time had only Agents and Catechists. So I was to be first indigenous priest from my place“
Through the encouragement and sponsorship of the Bishop Tugwell Memorial Church Lagos, Sam went in to Emmanuel College of Theology, Ibadan for his Ministerial training after having resigned his appointment with the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria.
Sam was ordained a priest on the 22nd of Dec 1957 by the Late Bishop A.W Howells (jnr) in Lagos.
After his diaconate ordination in 1956, he was attached to the Cathedral Church of Christ Marina Lagos where he was given proper foundation by the Late Bishop A.W Howells, the then Bishop of Lagos.
He was appointed Honorary Canon of at Stephen Cathedral Bonny in 1978 by Bishop Y.A Fubara(JP). Sam was further appointed Bishops Examining Chaplain by Bishop Fubara on July 19th, 1977.
From 1979 to 1980, Sam served as the chaplain to the University of Port Harcourt as well as chaplain to all secondary schools in Port Harcourt.
He also assisted the Venerable O.D.C Brown (Late) in St.Cyprain’s church, Port Harcourt. Sam’s tenure as Assistant Priest in st Cyprian’s church was quite remarkable.
Election, Consecration and Enthronement.
Sam’s ascension to the exalted throne of Bishop was described as “miraculous” by Sam. This is because there were some senior and higher ranking clergymen who were highly favoured to succeed Bishop Fubara. Sam once said “it’s by the special grace of God that I was elected to succeed my spiritual father (Bishop Fubara). You see, at that time there were other colleagues senior to me in rank and status in the Diocese. In fact, I never dreamt of such opportunity in Life.”
It is instructive to say a little about the circumstances that led to the return of Sam from Lagos to Port Harcourt, which eventually culminated in his becoming a Bishop.
Ven.Chukwuigwe said this; “The Bishop Y.A. Fubara and myself visited Lagos for a meeting. We met with a bright young clergyman who hails from Rivers State of Nigeria. We had heard of him before we went to Lagos. We tried to induce him to return home and take appointment with the Niger Delta Diocese. The next time we visited Lagos we went to his station and resumed our talk with him about his coming home to up appointment (with Niger Delta Diocese). Within a short period after our last talk with him he took up appointment with the Rivers State Government as one of the Civil servants (Commissioners). The then Bishop of Owerri and later first Archbishop of province Two, the most Rev. Dr. B.C. Nwankiti, also played a key role in Sam’s return from Lagos.“
The process of Sam’s election began on 2nd May, 1980 when the retiring Bishop of Diocese, Rt. Rev. Y.A. Fubara (of blessed memory) wrote Sam, who was then a Reverend Canon, requesting them to supply his biodata.
On 7th May, 1980, Sam responded to Bishop Fubara’s letter with much reluctancy since the motive was not clear to him.
Sam said; “initially, I was hesitant in responding to my Bishop’s request because I had thought that as a carrier Civil servant,my spiritual father wanted my resume to canvass for me for a political appointment. But on my second thought, I gave up this idea as a refusal on my part would tantamount to canonical disobedience.”
As it is customary, the election was concealed until 15th January 1981, when Bishop Fubara Visited Sam to deliver a letter from primate, Most Rev. T.O Olufosoye, which approved the election of Sam by the Episcopal Synod, as the Bishop of Niger Delta Diocese; and went ahead to congratulate Sam on his Successful election.
Sam was consecrated in a service which took place at the Cathedral Church of Saint James, Ibadan on Sunday 1st March 1981. Two other Bishops were consecrated alongside Sam that day in the church. The two Bishops were; Rt.Rev.Gideon Isaac Olajide, (former Bishop of Ilesa and now Bishop of Ibadan) and Rt.Rev. Samuel Olufumilade Aderin,( retired Bishop of Ondo)
Sam had the privilege of being enthroned as a diocesan of two Dioceses during his Episcopacy which covered a period of about Bonny nineteen years. First, on march 8, 1981, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Bonny (the second oldest Cathedral Church in the whole of West Africa Region, after St. David’s Freetown, Sierra Leonel), he was enthroned as the 4th Bishop of Niger Delta Diocese.
Second, as the first Diocesan of the Niger Delta North by translation, when on Thursday, 16th of May, 1996 (Ascension Day), on the mandate of his Grace, The Most Rev. J.A. Adetiloye, the Primate and Metropolitan of all Nigeria, he was enthroned at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Diobu, Port Harcourt.
- Joy Elenwo Ofordu (2018) Omoluabi a man of good Character: Gospel Warehouse, Port Harcourt.
- HISTORY OF DIOCESE OF NIGER DELTA NORTH;
- VEN. R. T. Etire (2017)
ST. CYPRIAN’S IN A CENTURY: www.vitalplanetblog.blogspot.com