246 views | Comrade Odugbo Enenche Justin | April 16, 2021
In a country whose life expectancy ratio stands at about 40.4 years, it is indeed a joyous moment for anyone to celebrate Quadra centennial be it in career, marriage or whatever other endeavours.
Once upon a time 25 years ago, Stephen DamiMamza was ordained under Maiduguri diocese as a Priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is indeed a great day of joy in his life, the church and the many people he had shown the light of Christ to. It is therefore pertinent for someone who only shares a glimpse of the calibre of the personality of this great man of God to relate the pen and paper in eulogizing him on the occasion of hisSilver Anniversary as a Priest.
But first, who is this man? Who is Bishop Stephen DamiMamza?
A quick glance at the history of our Lord Bishop, reveals that Stephen DamiMamzawas born into a polygamous family to Mr. Damijida Mamza on the 30th of November 1969 at Bazza, Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
His father, Mr. Damijida Mamza had four (4) wives and twenty-six (26) children. During his early childhood, he assisted his grandfather in looking after the family cattle and when he was eight (8) years old, he was enrolled into the Missions primary school against his will and that of his grandfather.
Stephen DamiMamzawas almost disowned by his family when he indicated interest in the priesthood. He recalled as he narrates to Ballinteer Parish, “I was denied family meals for three (3) days in order to make me change my mind. With the assistance of my Parish Priest and some relatives, who were practicing Catholics, my school fees were taken care of. When my father retired from the Nigerian army, he supported my continuing desire to be a priest”.
He was inspired into the life of celibacy by the good works done by his then parish priest Fr. PatrickFarriell an Augustinian. In 1982, he began his proper training into priesthood. First, it was at St Peter’s Minor Seminary Yola and then in 1988, he proceeded to St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi where he studied philosophy until 1991. He again proceeded to St. Augustine’s Major Seminary Jos from 1991 to 1995 where he studied theology.
He holds a Diploma in ReligiousStudies form Ibadan and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from UrbanianaUniversity Rome. Prior to his appointment as Bishop of Yola diocese he undertook an MA in Developmental Studies in Kimmage Dublin, Ireland.
On the 13thof April 1996, he was ordained a Catholic priest by Bishop Senan O’Donnell, an Irish Augustinian under Maiduguri Diocese. Fifteen (15) years later, on Friday, 18thFebruary 2011, he was announced the Bishop of the catholic Diocese of Yola after the demise of the then Bishop Christopher S. Abba. On 7thApril 2011, he was officially installed as the 4th Bishop of Yola Diocese by His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1.
After ordination as a priest, Stephen DamiMamza held several positions in his home Diocese of Maiduguri, which includes:
– Assistant Parish Priest, St. Joseph’s Parish Kaya and Assistant Director Catechetical Training CentreKaya(1996-1997).
– Parish Priest St. Ann’s Michika and Vocation’s Director (1997-1998)
– Parish Priest St. Peter’s Parish Yafa (1998-1999)
– Parish Priest St. Andrew’s Mubi (1999-2005).
– Parish Priest St. Timothy’s and St. Rita’s Maiduguri (2005-2009).
Other key responsibilities he heldinclude:
– Coordinator, Justice, Development and Peace commission, (JDPC)
– Chairman, Ordination Committee,
– Member, Board of Consultants and Diocesan Project Managers
– Funding Member of Adamawa Peace Initiative (2013 – Date)
– Member, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC).
– Two (2) Times Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Adamawa chapter (2017 – Date)
Of the several Roman Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, one name stands out almost unique – Bishop Stephen DamiMamza. Since he was from a poor polygamous family and from a region torn apart by insurgency, many would have ordinarily written off his name from the golden bookof life as the case is in Nigeria, where people from poor backgrounds are written off. However, Stephen DamiMamza weathered the odds and today, the world over he is celebrated as a Beacon of Hope to humanity.
In a country rated as the poverty capital of the world and having the highest unemployment rate, second only to Namibia and having corrupt public officials, many persons will not expect what Bishop Stephen DamiMamza has done and is still doing.
The bishop is no member of the House of Representatives or a Senator who receives hundreds of millions annually for their constituency development who then leaves their constituency more impoverished than developed and run away from their people only to show face when election is by the corner. He is a humble pastor of the Roman Catholic Church who is always with his people and strangers alike come whatever may.
His developmental strides outperforms many who shares from the nation’s commonwealth, making themselves wealthier with the sweat and blood of the people they swore to protect and provide for.
Although most Catholic Bishops are known and respected across boards, Bishop Stephen DamiMamza has stood a giant in being more. He is revered, cherished and adored. He is human-oriented, a pacesetter, a voice for the voiceless, an acute listener, a reckless spender for the needy and a talk-less and do-more personality.
This has earned him several worthy names, The Touch Bearer, Beacon of Hope, Father of Faith and lots more. Permit me to add one, The Trailblazer of Modern Christianity.
Although very humble and a lesser talker, he drops literal bombs, shattering the evil when he talks. He is never afraid of speaking truth to power. For instance, he once stated that ‘our elected leaders are threats to peace, democracy’ (The Guardian04/042017) and ‘Massacre, a jihad against Christians’ (The Guardian 12/01/2018). Amidst the recent hijab controversy at Kwara state, he said in an interview that the state governor is responsible for the crisis rocking the state.
Only a handful of politicians, let alone the religious would measure up with his people-oriented goals and achievements. Bishop Stephen DamiMamza has done tremendous good in his ten (10) years as Bishop and twenty-five (25) years as a priest than most politicians would have done even in a second lifetime.
Few amongst his achievements include:
– Catering for over five thousand (5000) Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by willingly converting the cathedral premises to IDP camp and providing the IDPs with free meals, medication and accommodation irrespective of their ethnic, tribal and religious affiliations.
– Facilitated the supply of hygienic water to about sixteen (16) different communities housing the IDPs.
– Rebuilding of over 200 houses completely destroyed by the rampaging BokoHaram Sect.
– Organizing a support program for over one hundred and eighty (180) women and girls abducted by the dreaded BokoHaram Sect without any third party with most of them receiving over one hundred and ninety thousand naira (N190,000) each.
– Securing the release of over eighty (80) prisoners
– Issued out soft loans to over three hundred (300) widows to help improve the sources of their livelihood.
– Issued scholarship to over two hundred and fifty (250) children from Nursery to Secondary Schools.
– Constructing and commissioning an Ultra-Modern CAN Secretariat estimated to worth over One Hundred and Fifteen Million naira (N115,000,000). Bringing to an end the continuous rentage of office space for their association
– Constructing and commissioning an eighty six (86) semi-detached housing estate with a hospital, school, market, church and a mosque even though he has been heavily criticised by the Christians for building a mosque, he stood his ground.
– Sponsoring of a muslim brother, AlhajiSaadAdamu to Rome in october 2017 to study inter-religious dialogue in his bid to create a lasting environment for peace in the state.
With all these achievements to bear, he has been recognised by several organisations as deserving of honours. Though he once stated that he is not a fan of awards, he has turned down over sixty (60) different awards. The few he received include;
– Hero of Peace Award on 21st September 2020.
– The NUJ award of Peace Building on 27th January, 2021.
– Sower’s Ministry International Peace Ambassador 23 September 2020.
Instead in his words, “thanks be to God” he prefers returning all glory to God whenever he is acknowledged and appreciated for any good deeds or endeavour to humanity.
Everyone is indeed happy that Bishop Stephen DamiMamza touches so many hearts and inspires so many lives by his service to the Lord.
In a world where almost everyone is just being selfish, crooked and eccentric, his selfless deeds to mankind inspire us to do more good without expecting anything in return. Today he has taught us the importance of being optimistic in every unfavourable situation that crosses our path.
We have the life of Bishop Dami as dazzling lessons for selflessness, humility, truthfulness, openness and kindness. If we would forsake our over-ambitious desires, greed, dishonesty, tribalistic and religious politics and fight for the common good of all people, regarding each human being as a brother or sister, the dawn of a better Nigeria cannot be held down by whatever forces. From Bishop Dami’s glowing attributes we also see that the task of making the world much better than we found is much more easier once we try, whatever our statuses are and that the only limitations we may face are our negative attitudes and mentality towards life and our fellow humans. In truth, Bishop Dami Mamza will indeed remain immortalized for all he has done and is still willing to do.
Therefore, who would hesitate to render his/her voice in shouting out 25 hearty cheers to this detribalized Trailblazer of modern Christianity on his Quadra centennial celebration as Catholic Priest? Your guess is good as mine. None…