Six young men professed vows with the Society of the Divine Word this year. We invite you to get to know them. Today, we introduce Friday Onoja SVD.
Name: Friday Onoja SVD
Hometown: Alaglanu Ogbaga Aidogodo-Okpoga, Benue State, Nigeria
Languages: Idoma and English
Ministry during novitiate: Minister of care, taking Communion to the homebound
Favorite books: The Bible and “Encounters with Silence” by Karl Rahner
Tell us about a time when you felt God’s presence: One answer that came to mind was my 30-day retreat. It was a time I will never forget. During one of my reflection times, I was meditating on why Jesus Christ would be a friend to those who turn down His friend request. The answer that came to mind was Jesus Christ is a friend, in a friend, for a friend. This has changed my life and has become my mantra.
When did you first feel the call to be a missionary? The thought of becoming a missionary came to mind when I was in primary school. It became more substantial in my junior year in high school. During this time, the voice in my heart said someday, somewhere, I would be working for the Lord. I believe my being here is in line with that calling.
How has living with the SVD brothers and priests at Techny inspired you? Living at Techny was a memorable year for me. Their shared missionary experiences truly inspired me. I have a friend Father Raymond Hober. It is part of the novitiate ministry program to choose as a ministry one of the priest in the infirmary to spend at least an hour with every week. Father Hober inspired me. Even though he has dementia, spending time with him created a kind of communication between us. From Father Hober, I learned the importance of the ministry of presence and that if our presence with each other is this valuable, how wonderful is God’s presence when we are there and recognize it!
What was the biggest challenge during this past year? The biggest challenge is questioning my own calling. Sometimes, I wonder why God would call me. A friend once told me that if I never questioned or doubted my calling, then I must find out why.
How did the early experience of novitiate change after the COVID-19 pandemic? During the early novitiate year, the pandemic restrictions began to loosen. My class had fewer restrictions compared to the previous class.
What are your hopes for the coming year? This year, I begin my theological study at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. I hope to take this year one step at a time, trusting in Jesus Christ because he leads the way, and I follow.