An Interview with Reverend Father James Obera

by Gordon Nary



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


Father James: When I received my vocation I was in the Junior Seminary. I discussed it with the Rector of the Seminary, who was also the Vocations Director of the diocese. He asked me to pray about it and discuss it with my parents. I remember telling my parents of my decision to be a Catholic Priest: They were both seated in the living room when I mentioned it to them there was a great silence that lasted almost five minutes. After a deep sigh from both, I received their blessing and their wholehearted support.


Gordon: Where did you attend seminary and what was your favourite course, and why was it your favourite course?


Father James: I attended seminary at St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria. There I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. My favourite course in Philosophy was History of Philosophy while my favourite course in Theology was Church History. I love these courses because they shed light on how cultures, peoples, and ideas shape the course of history.


Gordon: What were some challenges when you served as Health Coordinator for your diocese?


Father James: As Health coordinator, I was charged with the responsibility of administering all the health facilities of the diocese, which were about eight. These facilities are all situated in rural areas and are not self-sufficient and as such, they are unable to render adequate health services. We were not getting the right support from the government and many organizations, both local and foreign, were not opening their doors of support to us. To address these problems we tried to engage in "sustainability" projects.


Gordon: Congratulations on your new assignment. Please share some information about it with our readers.


Father James: On the 25th of October, 2021, The bishop of my diocese, The Most Rev Anthony Adaji, MSP, appointed me as Pastor to a newly created Pastoral territory, St. JohnMission Territory, Amaka, Igalamela/Odolu Local Government of Kogi State, Nigeria. Amaka is a remote rural area made up of just peasant farmers and petty traders. As a pioneer pastor, I must say that it has not been an easy experience but I am coping with the challenges by the grace of God. I have a lot of work to do in the areas of catechesis, evangelization, education, and parish infrastructure.


Gordon: Approximately what percentage of Nigerians are Catholics?


Father James: I think about 25% of Nigerians are Catholics with a very high concentration in South East Nigeria.


Gordon: What has caused the plague of murders in Nigeria and what can the government do to reduce the murders?


Father James: The murders taking place in Nigeria can be attributed to high illiteracy, unemployment, insecurity, and a porous international border. If the Nigerian government is able to make an adequate effort towards addressing these issues, murder cases will surely be reduced to the minimum.


Gordon: Thank you for a great interview and for helping our readers know more about Nigeria.