I am Fr. Paul Arinze, a priest of the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin. I am a native of Ebenebe in Awka Diocese, Anambra State, Nigeria.
I grew up in the eastern part of Nigeria, and we lived in Enugu and Udi, and that was when I was still in early first, second, and third grade. The sisters were very good to us at the parish and the school, they taught us how to serve, how to pray.
I remember that was something really very remarkable about them. They worked very hard and were incredibly faithful to their prayer. No matter what they were doing, even in disciplining us, they did everything with love. It was very impressive. I was still young then, but the Sisters then really impressed me because of how much they cared for the community. It was obvious that their vocation was really shining out, shining forth from their lives.
They made us understand what God wants of us, what it means to be a child of God and how to love the Commandments of God, and not see the Commandments as something that is deterring us from living life. Even when they corrected us for doing something wrong you come out of that feeling, getting the sense that you know, Sister wanted me to be better
When I came to the US for seminary in ’95 Sister Mary Paul and some of the Sisters were already here, so they helped me make the transition to school at Mundelein Seminary. They really became my home away from home. I would often go to visit their house to pray with them and then enjoy some meals. They were was always good food and much laughter and joy there.
I was very moved when they all came to my ordination and first mass. The Sisters all came and they sang us a hymn from Nigeria which was so beautiful. That’s I think when I realized that they had truly nurtured my vocation through my whole life.
I’m always a very joyful person because that is what I remember of the Sisters. They were always very happy people and joyful, and they really were people of great faith, you know. They loved Christ and they loved the church. And so as a priest I always aspire to be a joyful, happy Priest who brings Christ to people in a joyful way, so that they will kind of embrace the mission that Christ is calling us to.