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An Interview with Father Rigo Azanwi OFM Cap.

by Gordon Nary

Gordon: When you attended Université Catholique d'Afrique Centrale UCAC, what was your favorite course and why was it your favorite?

Father Rigo: This is an interesting question because prior to attending L’UCAC, I was already specialized in the practical sciences: Physics, Math, Biology and Chemistry. Switching to Philosophy was delving into new horizons. I found all the classes interesting and formative for who I am and will become. Nonetheless, Logic was one of my favorites because of its emphasis on reasoning and argumentation. Also, it was somewhat similar to math.

Gordon: When you earned your Masters Degree in Divinity/Ministry and Sacred Theology, what was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?

Father Rigo: Similar to my Philosophy degree, the classes I chose at CUA were all intentional and served a purpose. Nevertheless, Biomedical ethics and Pastoral counseling were some of my favorites. The former introduced me to CRISPR technology and my eventual pursuit of a degree in Bioethics, while the former provided me with some of the tools I use almost every in my priestly ministry either when I administer the sacraments, celebrate Holy Mass, preach, give a retreat or talk or even just one-on-one conversations with the people I serve.

Gordon: What did you study when you attended Harvard Medical School?

Father Rigo: I studied Bioethics this included but not limited to Clinical Ethics, Research ethics, Health Law and Policy. And my capstone research centered on Moral distress and Moral Injury.

Gordon: What was one of the challenges that you had to address when you did your clinical pastoral experience internship at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital?

Father Rigo: It was observing the different ways in which people suffered and sometimes struggling to discern the adequate and appropriate spiritual care for them.

Gordon: What were your primary responsibilities when you served as Deacon at St John the Evangelist Centre City?

Father Rigo: As a deacon my primary responsibility was and continues to be that of service. I preached regularly, led bible study groups, joined the Young Adults of the parish in the different activities they had going on. And I also visited the sick until the world shut down because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Gordon: Why did you decide to be a Capuchin Friar?

Father Rigo: My vocation story began when I was six. Every single moment of my life after the first day I felt the call has built up to my present vocation as a Capuchin Friar and priest. My vocation story is really a journey that we may be limited by space to cover at this time but I’m always happy to share..

Gordon: What are your primary responsibilities as Associate Pastor at St Joseph Church York?

Father Rigo: The list is inexhaustive: Daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist, celebration of the sacraments, visiting the sick, community chaplain to York, UPMC hospitals and the York County Prison. Facilitating some faith groups in the parish, officiating at funerals, providing Spiritual Direction, brief catechetical lessons to the children at our St Joseph school and several other ministries that you would identify as soon as you spent time around me hahaha.

Gordon: What do you enjoy most as a Public Health Ethics Fellow?

Father Rigo: Learning and doing research on some of the issues that matter the most to me such as Health disparities and inequities and striving to see a world that is void of all these inequalities and inequities. It may seem as an impossible goal but as Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman says “if everyone could do their little bit and light just a candle, we will have a tremendous light.” I believe the fellowship gives me an opportunity to do my little bit in realizing the world I desire.

Gordon: You are a Bioethicist. Please explain to our readers what a Bioethicist is.

Father Rigo: A bioethicist is one whose work centers on the navigation of ethical issues arising in Biology, medicine, and technology. They may also teach others who aspire to become bioethicists or gain foundational knowledge in the field for future application in their respective occupations. A bioethicist may also be called upon to provide ethical advice for institutions or in legal matters.

Gordon: Who is your favorite classical composer and what work of that composer do you enjoy most?

Father Rigo: That’s a tough one but I may have to go with Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu

Gordon: Thank you for a beautiful interview that I know will be inspirational to many of our readers.

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