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Thursday, 10 December 2015

A Great Man of the People is Celebrated

A Great Man of the People is Celebrated

A Great Man of the People is Celebrated
Early last week, on a very calm morning in the city of Abuja, yours faithfully received a message on my handset to invite me to attend the 60th birthday ceremony and 32nd priestly anniversary of a great man of God and of the people Reverend Father Doctor Raphael Madu who is the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria.  When I say Fr Ralph is man of the people I don't mean it in the characteristics of the Chief character in that iconic novel by the great philosopher Professor Chinua Achebe.  He is a man ready and willing to make himself uncomfortable just so his neighbors can be lifted into their better and much prosperous state.
The event is for December 11th (Friday ) 2015 and 12th 2015 (Saturday) exactly few hours after  the human race celebrate the global human rights Day marking the coming into being of the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) which precisely became actualized on December 10th 1948. 
The coincidence between the twin anniversaries of Reverend Father Ralph Madu with the World’s Human Rights Day is a divine lesson ordained by God to signpost the significance that the body of work done and still being progressively done by this Man of God and of the people towards the advancement of civilization and protection of human rights. This man of God has preached and worked for peace,  progress and unity of the Body of Christ and the Nigerian Nation. He has attained lofty heights in his vocation but at the same time he has remained so humble and unassuming. He is everything a Priest should be and above all he is cerebral. 
 No doubt Reverend Father Madu has used the past three decades plus to add value to humanity, he has also carved a distinctive niche for himself as a good brand that has planted and nurtured good fruits in the vineyard of God.  
Raphael Okechukwu Madu, according to information obtained from the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria  was born 60 years ago, on September 28, 1955 at Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos, the former capital city of the Nigerian nation and her commercial nerve centre. 
He is the fourth child and second son of his parents - late Pa Celestine Egwuegbu Madu and Mrs. Dorothy Chikere Madu, also of blessed memory; both of Avuvu Nunya Isuikwuato in present day Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State. His other siblings, five boys and three girls are not named in this essay long CV obtained from the Catholic Secretariat in Abuja. 
The author of this well written essay stated that the determination and frugality of their parents, Raphael and his other siblings had good education from primary to secondary levels; and later to tertiary institutions. Like his first three brothers, Raphael had his early education at St. George's Boys Catholic School, Falomo Ikoyi, and Lagos.  
However, at the break out of the Nigerian Civil War in 1966, his parents were forced to return home with their children. Back home, young Raphael continued his elementary school at St. Paul's School Nunya where he did his elementary five in 1966. In 1967, Pa Celestine  relocated to Owerri with his family, so, young Raphael had to continue schooling at St. Paul's Catholic School, Owerri and completed his elementary six there. 

Motivated to serve the Lord as a priest of the Catholic Church, young Raphael sat for and passed the entrances and interviews of St. Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala and Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, in 1968. He enrolled in St. Mary Junior Seminary Umuowa Orlu, which was a preparatory to St. Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala in the old Owerri Diocese. 
In the details provided in the extensive essay written on his profoubdly rich life experiences which remains an ongoing conversation, while at St. Peter Claver Seminary, Raphael did his O'Level London General Certificate Examination (GCE) in 1975 coming out in flying colors in all the eight papers he offered with a good number of distinctions.  After a year's apostolic work, Raphael was among the early pioneer students of the then Bigard Memorial Seminary (now St. Joseph) Ikot Ekpene where he studied and obtained his B.Phil with magna cum laude, in 1979. He was sent to Enugu for his Theology studies and in 1983 he obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Theology (BD), magna cum laude.


At the successful completion of his priestly training, Raphael Okechukwu Madu was ordained a Catholic priest at the Our Lady of Fatima Pro-Cathedral Isuikwuato in 1983 by the then Bishop of Owerri, the late Bishop Mark Onwuha Unegbu. It was a day of great joy for all the sons and daughters of Isuikwuato who turned out in their good number to give honor to their illustrious son and rejoice with the Madu family.

After his ordination, Fr. Ralph was posted to Mater Ecclesiae Seminary Nguru Mbaise, which was then in the Old Owerri Diocese but now belongs to Ahiara Diocese, to nurture  the young ones towards the priesthood.  He not only taught and formed junior seminarians, but served also as Vice Rector from 1983-1984. From there he was transferred to the Assumpta Press, Owerri as the Editor of The Leader Newspaper. During his one year stay at the Assumpta Press, Fr. Ralph gave a good account of himself and discharged entrusted duties effectively and efficiently.


Late 1985, Fr. Ralph was sent to the prestigious Catholic University of Leuvain, Belgium for further studies to major in philosophy. Being a French speaking University, he registered for French language. Towards the end of 1986 he obtained a Diploma in French Language and in 1988 a BA in Linguistics. Having secured the necessary tools for his academic sojourn, Fr. Ralph positioned himself effectively for higher studies in philosophy. By 1987 he obtained his M.Phil and in 1988 his M.Theo, all in the same University. He completed his philosophical studies in summer 1990 with a Ph.D in a grand style under the tutelage of the famous Prof. Jean Ladriere. His versatility and gift of knowledge enabled him to realize his objectives in the field of education and at the close of summer, that year, young Rev. Fr. Dr. Ralph Okechukwu Madu with many degrees in his kitty, preceded to New York, Fordham University, for Post Doctoral studies. There, he had an MA in Education Administration and Supervision and the Professional diploma.


The greatest testimony to the spirituality of life of Rev. Fr. Ralph is position as the Grand National Spiritual Director of the Knights and Auxiliaries of St John International, a position he held for about 23 years. During this period, he provided and exemplary leadership in spiritual matters and prayers and guided the members in coming closer to God.  Testimony of members of the body in this respect abounds in large numbers. His homilies are not only inspiring but also captivatively motivating; and have impacted positively on the lives of many faithful, especially Catholic youths.


After a successful academic career in Europe, Fr. Madu moved to the United States of America. He left the world of philosophy for a while and began new studies in Administration and Supervision. His first posting took him to his alma mater, Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu where he taught philosophy and served in other capacities from 1992-1997. He was the Dean of Philosophy (1995-1997). While teaching at the seminary,, Fr. Ralph  read and obtained a HND in Mass Communication at Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT in1997) From the seminary,.  Fr. Madu went on his second missionary journey to the Assumpta Press, where he spent another eight years to turn the press round to become a colossus in the printing industry and Newspaper Company in the Eastern part of the country. Here, he exhibited his journalistic expertise, administrative acumen and excellent business initiatives. His achievements at the Assumpta Press are better seen than described. However, a few must be mentioned. The transformation of the Leader Newspaper from a powerful 8 page 4000-5000 copies bi-weekly circulation in 1997 to a 24 page 15,000-16,000 copies circulation bi-weekly remains up till today Fr. Ralph's wonder. Also, It was under him that the Leader newspaper became one of the first newspapers to print in full colour East of the Niger. He equipped the Assumpta Press with computers and other state of the art printing machines, making it one of the best equipped printing establishments around. He also provided adequately for other areas of the printing company including the employment of qualified and competent professionals, conducive working atmosphere as well as manpower development programmes and opportunities. 

While working at the Assumpta Press, Fr. Madu also taught Philosophy at the Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary, Owerri during his years as editor of the Leader. When in 2006 the Seat of Wisdom Seminary Umuahia was opened he was one of its pioneer lecturers. This connotes a rear display of selflessness, dedication and commitment to the work of the Church.

In addition to his academic and administrative life achievements, Fr. Ralph has positively impacted on the pastoral lives of many Catholic faithful, especially the Knights and Ladies of St John International.  For more than two decades (since 2003) he has been the National Chaplain, Knights of St. John International. 1991-1992 he was the Chaplain, Columbia Hospital, New York. While in Belgium during his studies he served as Assistant Parish Priest in Assesse in the Diocese of Namur (1986-1990) and earlier on at home he was the Assistant Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish Uratta near Owerri from 1984-1985. In this same year, he was the chaplain of the Female Religious, Owerri Diocese.

His homilies and spiritual reflections, often laced with humour make him a marvel to watch on the altar of the Lord. He preaches with dexterity which drives home the gospel message of the reading; and his subtle approach of reaching-out with the Good News of Christ; make many to be glued to their seats in rapt attention without concern for time.


Fr. Ralph is not only a classroom teacher and administrator of no mean dimension; he is also an author of the commendable order. In spite of his numerous organizational and business engagements, he finds time to write. Some of his works include: Essays on Metaphysics Vol.l, Nsukka: Faladu Press (1997); Philosophy and Theology at Cross Roads: The Hermeneutic Solution. Enugu: Anic Press (1995); African Symbols, Proverbs and Myths: The Hermeneutics of Destiny. New York: Peter Lang (1992) and several well researched articles in learned journals, national and international.

Fr. Ralph is a member of National and International Organizations: CATHAN, NUJ, Owerri Branch, Owerri Archdiocesan Exams Board, Nigerian Referee Association, and International Congress on Intercultural Philosophy Aachen; Germany. His activities in these organizations have often taken him to far away, places in the world. And with his good mastery of English, French, German and Igbo languages, he has toured and delivered academic papers in countries like Belgium, France, Germany, America, Australia, Brazil, India, Italy and Switzerland, under the auspices of Missio Institute, Germany.

He was an accomplished footballer in his youth days.. He participated actively in all the annual All Nigeria Major Seminary Games from 1979-1983. It is also on record that it was during his tenure as Games Master in 1982/83 that Bigard Enugu won the first position in the All Major Seminary Games at Bodija Ibadan. He  is a great actor who loves Drama with passion.  The name Romeo which most of his friends and colleagues call him up till today stemmed from his acting excellence on stage. In his seminary days, he was the coordinator of  the Theatre Group for years. He produced and directed such plays as Murder in the Cathedral and Man of all Seasons at the NTA, Aba. As already indicated above, he possesses a Grade 1 Certificate in the Nigerian Referee Association.  He also refereed in Belgium for five years. There are a few people whom I have met and dared to call genius. Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Okechukwu Madu is one of them. He may not have taken the first position in his class during the seminary days but he never went beyond the third position.


The coming of Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu to the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria CSN) in 2007, marks a turning point in the administrative head office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). In his two term tenure as the Director of Social Communications at the Secretariat, Fr. Madu gave a new impetus to the communication apostolate of the Church in the country, making it more vibrant. In recognition of his dedication and commitment to the mission of the Church, the Bishops appointed Fr. Madu as the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in September 2011, at their Plenary in Umuahia, Abia State;  in succession to Msgr. Michael Ekpeyong. This position he holds till today in conjunction with being the Chaplain of the St Gabriel Chaplaincy of Abuja, Archdiocese, located within the premises of the Secretariat.

A Great Man of the People is Celebrated
At sixty, Fr. Madu is still an embodiment of good and active leadership qualities and his exemplary ways of doing things remain a rare quality that endears him to many people who have come across him in different spheres of life.  He is a workaholic who can be on his two feet twenty-four hours without getting tired. No assignment from his superiors is too difficult for him that he will not find a way out and restore a fallen situation to an enviable state again. He is effable, friendly and generous to a fault. His personal relation (PR) is second to none which helps him to mix freely and openly with everybody that come his way without complex feeling.

Avery good friend of the poor, the needy and the marginalized, Fr. Ralph also relates very well with the rich, people in authority and captains of industries. He is an amiable friend of all, a leader with Midas touch. He is an effective an efficient mobilizer of human and natural resources, and astute and shrewd administrator who capably uses humour and discipline to get the best out of workers. He is an apostle of self reliability and success motivated by determination and doggedness. His humility is remarkably affective. He is an anointed one of God whose mission in the Lord’s vineyard has been very commendably exemplary in spiritual and pastoral life with total commitment. He is an advocate of religious harmony, strong promoter of ecumenism and interreligious relationship, youth development and a detribalized Nigerian.

An unapologetic advocate of justice, love, respect and societal equity, Fr Ralph Madu is an enigma who through his rare gift as an All Rounder has endeared himself to many in different spheres of life. These talents and gifts of the Lord make him to be more profound as a priest of God and an amiable servant of the people. 
This is to wish Fr Ralph the best in his unfolding evangelizing enterprise in the Vineyard of God.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs;

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