By Vatican News staff writer
A Nigerian religious, Livinius Esomchi Nnamani, who suffers from Leukemia, has been ordained to the Catholic priesthood with the approval of Pope Francis.
The 31-year-old had written to the Holy Father requesting to move forward his ordination, and was granted his wish on 1 April. Bishop Daniele Libanori, an Auxiliary bishop of Rome, ordained Livinius a priest at the Presidio Sanitario Medica Group Casilino Hospital in Rome.
Fr. Livinius’ story
Recently-ordained Fr. Livinius began his vocation journey in Owerri, Imo state, in Southeastern Nigeria, when he entered the Order of the Mother of God, aged 20.
Shortly after his first vows, Livinius was diagnosed with Leukemia, setting off a challenging period of therapies and treatments for the young religious. Two years ago, he was sent to Italy in search of better healthcare and to continue his studies.
Notwithstanding the gruelling transfusions and targeted treatments, Livinius continued his studies at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, better known as the Angelicum, and pronounced his final vows last September.
However, as the illness progressed, He started to spend longer periods in hospital, and his desire to complete his formation to the priesthood began to look more uncertain.
Consequently, Livinius made the decision to write to Pope Francis, asking him to bring forward his ordination. The reply came quickly on 31 March: Pope Francis gave his permission. The following day, Livinius was ordained a priest.
The gift of priesthood
“With this gift,” Bishop Libanori said during his homily, “God the Father wants to sustain you so that you can fully live the trial to which he called you.”
“As a priest, you will be joined with Jesus to make your body an offering pleasing to God. Our priesthood, indeed, reaches its peak when together with the bread and wine, we know how to offer all of ourselves, the things the Lord has given us, and our very lives.”
Presently, Fr. Livinius has begun his priestly ministry at the Casilino hospital, where he gives his blessing to the doctors and nurses who care for him and other patients on a daily basis.