12-year journey begins in Nigeria
It's been a long road to the priesthood for Deacon 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
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
"I was looking for something close to what I have back home,"
says Deacon 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
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
His preaching classes have helped him develop several approaches
to preaching. Deacon 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, Deacon Emmanuel is happily
anticipating ordination and serving in a parish. "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.'"