Talents Beyond the Pulpit

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To many, the life of a priest is a quiet one, restricted to preaching and promoting the gospel of salvation. But for some priests with the Wow Catholic, championed by the Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, it’s a case of talents beyond the pulpit. Paul Obi writes

Catholic priests are generally believed to be programmed only to preach salvation from the pulpit while professing Christianity. The perception of priests is also one of a people limited to a solitary life in the monastery. Thus, each time a Catholic priest veers from his calling to another endeavour, it comes as a sort of shock and bewilderment to the followers.

But as the world evolves, the Catholic Church has in several ways attempted to transform in many positive areas that do not erase its doctrinal foundations. This is done with an understanding that such priests who display talents outside the normal religious calling also provide an avenue for evangelism.

‘Priests Got Talents’

It was in the attempt to showcase the talents of these clergymen that the concept of “Priest Got Talent” was born. Championed by Rev. Fr John Oluoma and Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, the Wow Catholic, a technology-driven platform was used as the vehicle to convey this ideology. At the recent event, which was held at Chida Hotel International Event Centre, Abuja, the talent show went a long way to prove that, indeed, Catholic priests and reverend sisters have other talents beyond the cassock.

The priests and reverend sisters who participated thrilled the audience with their skills in dancing, football, singing, acting and even cooking, among other artistic displays. At the end of the event, three winners emerged – Reverend Fathers Jude Agada, Sylvanus Ameh and Kelvin Anetor, who came first, second, and third, respectively.

Cardinal’s Approval

At the talent show, which brought together people from all walks of life, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan Diocese, His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, explained that the benefits of priests showcasing their talents were enormous. Onaiyekan said, “I am glad that my young priests are coming out and wanting to express their talents beyond the perception people have of them as good preachers or weak social workers. They can also be good musicians. It is good that they have been able to merge and coordinate it with their normal practice as priests. So that as reverend fathers, they will not think they are people brought down from heaven.”

According to the Cardinal, by participating in the talent show, the priests and reverend sisters were indirectly encouraging other Nigerians to put in their best in bringing out their talents for the common good of society. He said: “There is one other aspect to this. There are many artistes out there. Some of them think that what they are doing has nothing to do with their faith. But when they see a reverend father being an artiste and performing, they are encouraged to know that they can be artistes, singers, musicians, actors and actresses, and still be very good Christians and indeed express their Christian faith through art.”

The archbishop stressed, “You can only witness to God through who you are and what you have. That is why I decided by all means to be present at this occasion. So as to encourage them in what they are doing. As you know, priests here are coming from all over Nigeria. There is only one or two from my diocese. Also, this talent show is one way to make the youths feel at home with the priests. You really move with people who understand your language and the way you feel. I have been telling my priests who are young, don’t forget you are part of the youth.”

Also speaking at the event, Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren, observed that the show afforded the priests and reverend sisters an opportunity to show their other side beyond the pulpit. Umoren, who said he is a professional motor mechanic, added that the talent show was very important given that it will assist the church to create an entertainment studio that will help the youth to develop their talents through various means.

He added that with the manner the “Priests Got Talent” had been accepted, there was need to do more in the coming edition. Umoren stated, “A lot more people around the country would get involved. It is something we are proud of and wish to sustain, because it will help the priests a lot more in their work with young people.”

Charity Clause

A highlight of the event was the noble idea of winners donating their winnings to a charitable cause. Speaking on the importance of the talent show and awards associated with the show, Coordinator and Chief Promoter of the “Priests Got Talents”, who also doubles as Parish Priest of Christ the King Parish, Kubwa, Abuja, Rev. Fr John Oluoma, explained that the intention was “to show the world that we can use our talent to the glory of God and for the good of mankind, because the first three winners are going to donate all what they win to any charity of their choice.

“On the award, the message we want to pass is to tell every Catholic in public service that eyes are on them and the only way they can give glory to God is for them to do their job diligently and make sure that everybody around them benefit from their good works.”

One of the participants, Rev. Fr Manzani, told THISDAY observed that he decided to participate in the show in order to show that there were other means of spreading the gospel beyond the pulpit. He added that by showcasing talents through arts and entertainment, the gospel could easily be embraced. “More so, the cash prize would be donated to support a charity cause, which is a laudable gesture I desire to support,” Manzani said.

With such display of talents, the Catholic Church is expanding the work of the priest beyond the pulpit. As stakeholders observed, the intention was to tell people in the secular world that the church is not opposed to arts and entertainment in the real sense of it, rather, the Catholic Church sees entertainment as a platform to spread the gospel and better the society. Again, the idea is not just to uplift the spirit but to also feel the pulse of Christ’s followers, by keeping hope alive for a better society through arts and entertainment. As William Shakespeare said, “the object of art is to give life a shape.”