Fr. Lawrence Oparaji is ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler and Kevin Wondrash, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
Fr. Lawrence Oparaji ordination
Newly ordained Fr. Lawrence Oparaji, left, with Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, following Father Oparaji's Ordination Mass on February 22 at Holy Name Heights in Madison. To view or purchase photos, go to
Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- Jesus sought out Peter and other disciples on the Sea of Galilee and made then"fishers of men."

Likewise the Church has looked throughout the world for priests.

One of them has come to the to Diocese of Madison from Nigeria to be a priest here, noted Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, who ordained Fr. Lawrence Oparaji to the priesthood on February 22 in the Bishop O'Donnell Holy Name Oratory at Holy Name Heights in Madison.

Called to the priesthood

"It's with great joy and thanksgiving to God that we gather today for the ordination of Lawrence to the priesthood of Jesus Christ," Bishop Hying said at the start of the Mass.

Later, during his homily, Bishop Hying recalled the Gospel story of Jesus calling Simon (Peter), and telling him he would be a "fisher of men".

"This man who seemed so unimportant, who was called to this magnificent task of giving witness to Jesus Christ . . . Peter encountered Jesus. He was called by Jesus. He was intensively formed by Jesus for three years, and then he was sent giving his whole life to the task of proclaiming the Gospel, of evangelizing the world, of making disciples."

Bishop Hying continued, "Lawrence, the same thing has happened to you. You have encountered the living Christ, and he has called you to the priesthood. Little did you imagine as a boy in Africa that you'd be ordained a Catholic priest surrounded by snow in a place called Madison, Wisconsin."

Bishop Hying compared Peter's calling with Father Oparaji's, that neither man knew where they would end up, but they were both called by Christ.

Ordination rites

Following Bishop Hying's homily, the soon-to-be Father Oparaji made his promises as a priest.

He then lay prostrate on the floor, dying to himself and rising to new life during the Litany of Supplication, while a litany of saints was sung.

Next, came the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination.

Bishop Hying placed his hands on Father Oparaji's head, conferring upon him the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Priests in attendance then took turns also laying their hands on their heads.

The newly ordained was then vested with a stole and chasuble.

Father Oparaji was vested by Fr. Bart Timmerman, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison.

The bishop then anointed the hands of the new priest with Sacred Chrism and his hands were then wrapped in the maniturgia.

Bishop Hying and priests in attendance then lined up to offer a sign of peace to the newly ordained.

As Mass concluded, Father Oparaji offered his first blessing to Bishop Hying, as well as his mother, Calista.

Mass participants

Bishop Hying was the main celebrant of the Mass.

Concelebrants included Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general of the Diocese of Madison; priests of the diocese; and priest-guests of Father Oparaji.

The Deacon of the Word was Deacon Vincent Racanelli and the Deacon of the Eucharist was Deacon Michael Johnson. Deacons Johnson and Racanelli are set to be ordained as priests this year.

Fr. Greg Ihm, vocations director for the diocese, served as master of ceremonies. Diocesan seminarians were Mass servers.

The Madison Diocesan Choir, directed by Dr. Patrick Gorman, provided music.

Sarah Gillespie served as cantor.

Marsha Rather and Ozioma Okonkwo were readers during the Mass.

Wisdom Anyagwa, Calista Oparaji, and Theresa and John Boncyk presented the gifts during the Offeratory.

The Diocese of Madison Vocations Office, along with friends, supporters, and members of the Quo Vadis Club served as ushers and greeters.

The Knights of Columbus Honor Guard Assembly 1200 Madison, along with the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, were in attendance.

The new priest

A native of Nigeria, Father Oparaji is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Ndukauba and Calista Ijeoma Oparaji of St. Andrew Parish in Orozo, Abuja, Nigeria.

He is a priest-son of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison.

His first priest assignment is as parochial vicar at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Sun Prairie, where he recently served while as a transitional deacon.

To view a video of the ordination of Father Oparaji, go the the Diocese of Madison Facebook videos page at

Please support our advertisers: