An Interview with Father Lawrence Abiona

by Gordon Nary


Gordon: When you receive your vocation, with whom did you first discuss it, and what was their advice?


Father Lawrence: My parents. They gave a negative response to the vocation. They accepted my vocations only after ordination. I think the issue of celibacy was what they could not accept.


Gordon: Where did you attend Seminary, and what was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?


Father Lawrence: I attended the Claretians Institute of Philosophy, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria for my Philosophy and the Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria for my Theology. My favourite course in Philosophy was Metaphysics and in Theology it was Scripture. I have always loved Bible from Secondary School. I think that contributed to my love for Scripture and I scored higher marks in it.


Gordon: Where was your first assignment and what was your favorite memory there.


Father Lawrence: I want to believe that you meant my first assignment after ordination. If that is the case, my first assignment was St. Gabriel Catholic Church, Lafiagi, Kwara State, Nigeria. I worked there as a principal of a secondary school and as associate priest.


Gordon: What is your current parish and approximately how many parishioners do you have?


Father Lawrence: My current parish is St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, Okuta, Kwara State, Nigeria. It is a mission land dominated by Muslims. The parish needs water and electricity. I have just arrived at the parish, but so far I have celebrated Mass in three of the outstations in the parish in addition to the parish headquarters. The distance of the nearest outstation to the headquarters is about one hour on a very bad road. Therefore, the parish needs Hilux car in order for the mission agents to reach people living in the hinterlands. Approximately, the number of parishioners can be said to be around One hundred and fifty.


Gordon: What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had upon your parish?


Father Lawrence: I was not in the current parish when the COVID-19 was at its peak. However, in my former parish, St. Thomas Catholic Church, Odo-Owa, Kwara State, Nigeria, COVID-I9 affected church attendance and finance. I want to believe that such impact could be generalized.


Gordon: What can your country do to reduce the Covid-19 pandemic?


Father Lawrence: Encouraging everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is the way to reduce the pandemic. This means the government has a duty to make everyone to believe that the vaccine has no negative impact on their lives.


Gordon: What can we do to increase vocations?


Father Lawrence: Vocations to the priesthood and religious life have not been an issue in Nigeria. More young people are embracing the celibate life. However, in areas where there is reduction in vocations, the synod on synodality is really an important step to address it.


Gordon: Please provide our readers with a prayer for all those who have died from Covid-19


Father Lawrence: Heavenly Father, you alone are wise and omniscience. Be merciful on the souls of your children who have died of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant eternal rest to their souls and grant them the joy of the beatific vision. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.


Gordon: Thank you for a beautiful interview!