Fr. Emmanuel Udoh
12-year journey begins in Nigeria
It's been a long road to the priesthood for Fr. Emmanuel Udoh, both in terms of time and distance.
Emmanuel began his vocation journey in his native country of Nigeria. His parents raised him, his brother and four sisters in the Catholic faith. They went to Mass on Sundays and attended a Catholic school.
After high school, Emmanuel trained to become a videographer and began working in that field. After a year, he decided to join the Josephites (Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart), a religious order of brothers and priests whose exclusive mission is to serve the African American community.
During the six years he was a Josephite, he began studying for the priesthood at a seminary in Nigeria and, later, at the Josephite seminary in Washington, D.C. Eventually, he discerned that his vocation was to be a diocesan priest and he left the society.
"I was looking for something close to what I have back home," says Fr. Emmanuel, "a community kind of church where people come together and really participate actively and get involved."
He is now studying for the Diocese of Owensboro, KY. He met the diocese's vocations director when he visited Nigeria with Emmanuel's friend, Fr. Uwem Enoh, also a Saint Meinrad alumnus.
"When I visited Owensboro, I realized people were more involved in their parish," he says. "That kind of drew me into the diocese."
His studies at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology have helped him prepare for what he most looks forward to as a priest: preaching and celebrating the sacraments. "That's where you really have the opportunity to meet people where they are," he says.
His preaching classes have helped him develop several approaches to preaching. Fr. Emmanuel favors a more casual, less scripted style of preaching, but he also learned to be comfortable speaking from a text. He found both styles helpful during last summer's ministry assignment at an Owensboro parish. As a deacon, he had opportunities to preach and refine his style.
"My goal is to be a servant leader," he says. "I want to be happy and fulfilled and be able to share that happiness with the people. I believe that our world right now desperately needs hope. To be able to share that hope and joy with the people I serve - that's what I look forward to."
After 12 years in the seminary, Fr. Emmanuel was ordained in May, 2014. "It's a journey," he says. "I persevered and I continued to say 'yes' to God. Now I look back on it and I don't know how I did it all those years, but I'm just thankful to God that I said 'yes.'"