This is the third in a series of four profiles introducing the men who are set to be ordained as priests for the Diocese of Brooklyn on June 3 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights.
DUNWOODIE, Yonkers — As a child in Nigeria, Deacon Nnamdi Eusebius Eze liked to fix things, from appliances to cars.
His parents, both teachers, appreciated his self-taught mechanical skills because it saved them a lot of money, he said. He graduated from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka with a degree in mechanical engineering.
But his ultimate career choice is not as a well-paid engineer.
Deacon Eze, 39, is among four transitional deacons to be ordained on June 3 in the Diocese of Brooklyn. They are Deacons Samuel Mwiwawi, Ernesto Alonso, and Thimote Cherelus.
“For me, the vocation to the priesthood is really a call from God,” Deacon Eze said. “It is God who calls someone to the priesthood. He also gives the person directions, especially when the individual cooperates.”
Deacon Eze said God speaks to different people in different ways. He added that being a priest is a decision taken with extraordinary commitment, dedication, and prayer.
Deacon Eze is the eldest of six children — three daughters and three sons — born to Linus and Stella Eze. He praised his parents for their Godly teachings and examples.
He recalled his father’s references to the Bible about how loving your enemies allows them to bring out the best in you.
Thus, Deacon Eze learned that “when someone treats you wrong, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out your true selves, your God-created selves.”
Deacon Eze said his childhood home was near the local Catholic church. He was always in the church and became an altar server after his first Communion. “I think that was where my vocation was born,” he said.
He also credited his uncle, Kevin Eze, for demonstrating a profound passion for prayer, even though he was always busy working for the World Bank in Nigeria.
“He does not miss his Divine Mercy prayer, his daily rosary, and he prays the Angelus,” Deacon Eze said. “He attends Mass every day wherever he is. He is just amazing.”
Deacon Eze said he sought to imitate his uncle’s faith.
“He gave me the hope and direction to continue to move despite my difficulties,” Deacon Eze said. “My mother was also quick to present all our family problems and hopes to God in prayer and will always advise us to do the same.”
Deacon Eze attended Boys High School in Orba, where he fueled his lifelong fascination with math and science.
“Nothing gave me joy then as solving questions in mathematics and getting the answers correct,” he said. “I had many friends with whom I solved mathematical questions.”
Still, the idea of becoming a priest never strayed, and it intensified in college.
“That was when I really did serious prayer, asking God to speak to me,” he said. “But I found out that the desire to become a priest was very intense in me. I could not stop thinking about that. So, in addition to that, I also prayed fervently, asking God to direct me. That is definitely where God spoke to me.”
Deacon Eze made up his mind to enter the seminary, and his parents encouraged his decision.
Meanwhile, he had another uncle who already was ordained and serving in the U.S. — Father Franklin Ezeorah, the parochial vicar at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He suggested that his nephew attend a major seminary in New York.
Deacon Eze arrived in 2015. Since his ordination as a transitional deacon last November, he has been serving at Our Lady of Grace, Howard Beach, while remaining in formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
But all of the time he spent learning engineering and working as a mechanic won’t go to waste after he is ordained a priest. He expects the skills will come in handy while managing the physical plant at his first parish.
At Our Lady of Grace, for example, he helped figure out a problem with the boilers.
Still, Deacon Eze said whether it’s opening a toolbox or the Bible, he will pray for divine direction.
“My desire and hopes are to remain in a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in my prayers so as to be able to minister to his people,” Deacon Eze said.