An encomium to Reverend Father Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai [Bachelor in Philosophy, Pontifical Urban University, Rome, 2004; S.T.B. – bachelor’s in theology, Summa Cum Laude, Hekima University College, Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya, 2009; Th.M. – Master of Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, 2015; S.T.L. – Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, 2015; M.A. in Philosophy with Distinctions, Boston College, Morrisey School of Arts and Sciences, 2018; S.T.D. – Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, 2018; Ph.D. in Philosophy, Boston College, Morrisey School of Arts and Sciences, 2021]; Cameroonian philosophy and theology scholar in the USA, erudite professor, eminent Chaplain of the Cameroon Catholic Community of the Archdiocese of Boston, celebrated former chancellor of Mamfe Diocese, renowned Coordinator of the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa (which promotes research work on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI); on the occasion of his appointment as Permanent Formator at St John’s Seminary, Boston, USA by Cardinal Seàn O’Malley of Boston Archdiocese, USA. Written by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, Doctorate Candidate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany
“Ad majórem Dei glóriam; AMDG” (For the greater glory of God). Motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and one of the favorite mottos of Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai
This encomium is devoted to Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai on his recent appointment in the Archdiocese of Boston. “As of Friday, March 4, 2022, Cardinal Seàn O’Malley, archbishop of Boston appointed our own Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice to St. John’s Seminary, Boston MA, as full-time professor of philosophy and theology, while continuing in his teaching career in the other universities in the Boston area. He is a proud son of Manyu, a division of the Southwest Region in Cameroon, which covers an area of 9,565 km² and as of 2005 had a total population of 181,039. The capital of the division is Mamfe, which happens to be his diocese of incardination. He is also a proud son of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and Cameroon in general. His tremendous achievement needs to be appreciated objectively without any envy or jealousy. This man of God has achieved a lot through hard work, discipline, and steadfastness. Every objective mind needs to pause for a second and appreciate this son of the soil of Mamfe Diocese.
Reverend Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai is a Priest of the Diocese of Mamfe Cameroon currently serving in the Archdiocese of Boston, USA. He became the very first priest of Mamfe Diocese to obtain a PhD in Sacred Theology in Boston College, USA in 2018. Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai comes from a family of 8. His brother, a refined intellectual by name Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai based in Ireland is one of the founding fathers of the Cameroon Catholic Community in Mulheim an der Rhur, Germany.
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice Ashley served as Secretary to Bishop Emeritus Francis Lysinge, Financial secretary and also moonlighted as Chancellor of the Mamfe Diocese between 2009 to 2014.
He currently teaches courses in Theology and Philosophy at Woods College in Boston College and at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, MA.
On April 17, 2022, he handed over as Parish Priest of St Anne’s Parish in Salem, MA in order to take up a new appointment as Permanent Formator at St John’s Seminary, Boston, USA. He is also the Chaplain of the Cameroon Catholic Community of the Archdiocese of Boston. He is the Coordinator of the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa, which promotes research work on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.
Mr. Tambe Tanyi of the Cameroon Catholic Community, Mulheim an der Rhur, Germany wrote after the appointment all the way from Germany: “Cardinal Seàn O’Malley of Boston appoints Fr Maurice Agbaw-Ebai to St. John’s Seminary, Boston MA. We come to you this day with good news of the promotion of Dr. Rev. Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai to full professor.
As of Friday, March 4, 2022, Cardinal Seàn O’Malley of Boston appointed Fr. Maurice to St. John’s Seminary, Boston MA, as full-time professor of philosophy and theology, while continuing in his teaching career in the other universities in the Boston area.
This brings to an end Fr. Maurice’s tenure as parish priest of Ste Anne’s Salem MA, as of March 19, 2022. A new parish priest for Ste Anne’s will be announced, April 17, 2022, Easter Sunday. We thank Fr. Maurice for his dedicated service at Ste Anne’s, and to the Cameroon Catholic Community of Boston in particular. We wish him the best in his assignment of forming priests for the dioceses in the New England area. We entrust his academic vocation, clearly so dear to his heart, to St Joseph, protector of the Universal Church.
In his time as Secretary / Chancellor of the Diocese of Mamfe, Rev. Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai worked so hard with his Bishop – Emeritus Lysinge Teke to ascertain that a Priest of the Diocese of Mamfe be appointed to the Cameroon Catholic Community Mülheim- Germany. The dream became true.
His meritorious promotion makes us happy. He is a good and leading example of what Cameroonian Priest abroad should emulate. Giving a good name not only to his Diocese but to the generality of Cameroon. It brings not prestige but as well impacts how other Catholic Dioceses look at Priests from Cameroon. It motivates the acceptance of Cameroonian Priests in Catholic Dioceses abroad.
To address him Rev. Prof. Dr. Maurice Agaw-Ebai would be an acknowledgement of deserved recognition for a wonderful Priest. Go abroad, make a name for yourself, lead your community to success, let your Diocese and the entire Catholic Church be proud and happy of your endeavours.
Rev. Professor. Dr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai, you make us happy and proud. May God continue to help you be the good shepherd. We say THANK YOU!To God be the Glory.”
2.The Indomitable Role of Rev. Fr. Professor Dr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai in assisting Bishop Lysinge from 2009-2014
The history of the Diocese of Mamfe cannot be complete without mentioning the name of Rev. Fr. Professor Dr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai, who played a tremendous role in assisting Bishop Lysinge in building the structures and making the diocese of Mamfe known worldwide.
It was only after his nomination as the Diocesan Chancellor, the Diocesan Finance Administrator and the Private Secretary to Bishop Lysinge in 2009 that the Diocese came back on track. In a very short time after the Mamfe Diocese had derailed financially for 10 donkey years, with almost no project been completed, the presence of the newly ordained Rev. Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai and his nomination as the Diocesan Chancellor, the Diocesan Finance Administrator and the Private Secretary to Bishop Lysinge, fresh from Hekima University College, Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya, in 2009 changed the modus operandi (that is, a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established) of the Diocese of Mamfe.
Construction of the bishop’s house and the Cathedral was accelerated. In less than no time, the Mamfe bishop’s house was completed. For the past ten years, from 1999 to 2010, Bishop Lysinge lived in tiny bishop’s residence found opposite St Johns College, Nchang. The construction of bishop’s house at Mamfe became a mystery, until Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice arrived to set financial records straight and transparent. Few years later after his arrival, the bishops house project was completed. Finally, Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge moved to live in the bishop’s house behind the Mamfe Cathedral.
As if that was not enough, Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai fast-tracked the completion of: 1) The Mamfe Diocesan Secretariat; 2) The dusty Mamfe Cathedral which was sometimes watered before sweeping. There was no concrete; 3) The Minor Seminary in Fotabong; 4) The Spiritual Centre; 5) Countless presbyteries, and many parish churches and parishes were established.
Due to his academic exposure, having studied Theology abroad in Kenya with the Jesuits, Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai saw the importance of sending seminarians to study out of Cameroon. In this regard, he assisted Bishop Lysinge in searching for scholarships in Rome for seminarians of Mamfe diocese and in preparing all the paperwork and visa processing that was needed to send seminarians abroad for studies. It is important to note here that the Congregation of Propaganda Fide issues many scholarships to diocese of mission territories to further their studies in Rome. They live at the Colegio Urbano. Until now, the francophone dioceses in Cameroon had enjoyed this opportunity of sending their seminarians to Rome on scholarship, while our Bishops of the Ecclesiastical province of Bamenda folded their arms and watch these opportunity pass by. Mamfe Diocese became the very first diocese in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda to send seminarians abroad to Rome to study theology. According to some bishops of the Province, it had to be Bambui. Some bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda were even uncomfortable with the fact that Mamfe was sending seminarians to Rome but this did not deter Fr. Maurice and Bishop Lysinge to forge ahead knowing fully well that they were an autonomous diocese and could take initiatives for the good of their diocese regardless of what some bishops were saying. I would lie to specify that it was only during the tenure of Fr Maurice Agbaw-Ebai as his private secretary that this was made possible through his selfless and totally indefatigable, utterly unflagging, outstandingly unrelenting, and absolutely untiring assistance to Bishop Lysinge that Mamfe Diocese had numerous seminarians sent to study in Rome, beginning with Mr Marinus Ndifor and many others followed.
Many seminarians were also sent to Nigeria. Mamfe Diocese became known not only in Cameroon, but beyond, in fact worldwide thanks to the presence of Fr Maurice Agbaw-Ebai as private secretary to Bishop Lysinge.
Above all, the first Mamfe Diocesan priest was sent as Fide donum to lead the Cameroon Catholic Community in Mulheim, in the Diocese of Essen in the person of Fr. Constant Leke Ngolefac. Through these pastoral exchanges, Mamfe Diocese became known worldwide.
As you could see, the presence of Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai as Diocesan Chancellor, the Diocesan Finance Administrator and the Private Secretary to Bishop Lysinge from 2009 played a tremendous role in assisting Bishop Lysinge retire on 25 January 2014 with almost all diocesan structures completed. In barely 4 years of service, Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai and Bishop Lysinge accelerated a lot of projects to completion. Who is Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai?
3. Reverend Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Educational Background
Reverend Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai is a former student of St. Joseph’s Primary School in Mamfe town.
He attended Government Bilingual Secondary School and Government High School Mamfe.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (B.Phil.), Cum Laude Probatus, from St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Bambui, Cameroon, an affiliate of the Pontifical Urban University, Rome in 2004. His Dissertation was titled: “Virtue in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius” and his Dissertation Supervisor was the late Prof. Christian Mofor, Rector, St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Bambui, Cameroon, of glorious and evergreen memory.
He also earned an S.T.B. – bachelor’s in theology, Summa Cum Laude from Hekima University College, Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya in 2009.
He earned a Th.M. – Master of Theology, from Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry in 2015.
He earned an S.T.L. – Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry in 2015: Major Field: Systematic Theology. His Dissertation was titled: “Joseph Ratzinger: The Word Became Love and Truth in the Church,” Dissertation Supervisor: Dr. Barbara Radtke.
He earned a M.A. in Philosophy with Distinctions, Boston College, Morrisey School of Arts and Sciences, 2018: Major Field of Study: Philosophy of Religion
He obtained an S.T.D. – Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, 2018; Institut Papst Benedikt XVI, Regensburg, Germany: Systematic Theology. His Dissertation was titled: “The Aufklärung as the Hermeneutical Framework of the Christo-Ecclesiology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI,” Dissertation Advisor: Prof. Brian Dunkle, S.J., School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College.
He also earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Boston College, Morrisey School of Arts and Sciences, 2021: Major Field of Study: Philosophy of Religion in the era of the Enlightenment and Modern Philosophy. His Dissertation was titled: “The Relation with God in Living Subjectivity in Søren Kierkegaard and Maurice Blondel.” Dissertation Advisor: Prof. Jeffrey Bloechl, Philosophy Department, Boston College.
4. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Editorial Work
He was: Assistant Editor of the Searchlight Magazine, St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Bambui, Cameroon and the Assistant Editor, Hekima Review, Hekima University College, Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya.
5. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai : Distinctions
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice has received the following distinctions:
1. Excellence Teaching/Mentor Certificate of Recognition, Woods, Boston College
2. Summa Cum Laude, bachelor’s in theology, Hekima University College, Jesuit School of Theology
3. Passed with Distinction, master’s in philosophy
4. Teaching and Research Interests Systematic Theology Philosophy of Religion
5. The Person and Theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI
6. June 2018 – Present: Coordinator of the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa
6. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai : Teaching Experience
He has taught the following courses at Boston College include: Leadership and Decision Making: Ignatian-Based Applied Ethics; Systematic Theology; Foundations in Theology; Philosophical Ethics; Liturgy and Sacraments; Augustine’s Confessions; History of Theology; Christianity in Africa.
7. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Course Taught at St John’s Seminary, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice taught “Joseph Ratzinger and the Enlightenment” at St John’s Seminary, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
8. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Publications – Articles
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice is a prolific researcher and writer. He has written and published about 39 articles. They include:
1. Benedict XVI: Co-Workers in the Truth (Papal Visit to Cameroon, 2008);
2. On the Reasonableness of Faith in Creation;
3. Catholicism And the Public Culture: Forming an Alternative Public Consciousness;
4. Catholicism as a Beautiful Experience;
5. Catholicism: An Advent and Easter Experience;
6. Benedict XVI and the Criticism of Faith and Church;
7. The Church and the Clown;
8. The Second African Synod – Rekindling the Flame and Vision;
9. Catholicism & Public Culture;
10. Catholicism and Irrational Public Power;
11. Catholicism and the Grammar of Tolerance;
12. Vatican Council II: An Ecclesial Mea Culpa?
13. The Popes and the Jews: The Religious Foundations of the Holocaust: Lessons for the World;
14. The Perenniality of Christian Martyrdom: From Freedom of Speech to Satanic Worship;
15. Catholicism and the Political Order;
16. The Confessing Church & the Two Popes;
17. The Popes and the Prisoners: The Case of Guantanamo Bay;
18. Conversion and the Kindly Light of John Henry Newman;
19. Mary of Nazareth and the Question of God;
20. Catholicism and Conflict Situations in Africa: Contributions from our tradition;
21. When Benedict XVI Was Right, and the World Wrong: Eight Years After Regensburg;
22. Pope Francis and the Culture of Encounter: From Gaudium et Spes to Evangelii Gaudium;
23. The Fear of the Future: Catholicism and the Practice of Divination;
24. The Triumph of Orthodoxy: The 2014 Synod of Bishops;
25. The 2014 Synod of Bishops: The Anatomy of a Crisis;
26. Africa and the Economy of Exclusion – Perspectives and New Horizons fro
27. The Joy of the Gospel of Pope Francis;
28. Blessed Are You, Beloved and Eminent Fr. Christian Mofor, PHD, Because You Believed! (Tribute)
29. Domine, Non Sum Dignus! The State of Grace and the Reception of Holy Communion;
30. Who Do You Say I Am? Evangelizing Today’s Culture;
31. Why I Still Believe in the Sinful Church;
32. Baptism Says It All;
33. The Goal of Ordinary Time;
34. Remembering Benedict XVI Three Years Ago;
35. Why Christians Must Be Strangers: The Church, the World and the God of Jesus Christ;
36. Amoris Laetitia, A Missed Evangelical Opportunity?
37. Father Benedict XVI, A Friend of Jesus Christ!
38. The Leap to Faith: A Kantian Reading of the Figure of Abraham in Soren Kierkegaard/Johannes De Silentio’s Fear and Trembling (Soundings, Penn State University Press, Fall 2020)
39. Conscience and the Discernment of the True and the Good in the Practice of Law
9. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai : Author of Books
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice has authored the following books:
1. Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge a Retrospective Legacy (2013)
2. Light of Reason, Light of Faith Joseph Ratzinger and the German Enlightenment (St Augustine’s Press, IN, 2020)
3. Lecture Africaine de la pensée de Benoît XVI (editor), (Presses de L’UCAC Yaoundé, September 2020)
10. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Conferences and Invited Speaking
He is a refined orator who can hold the audience spellbound. He has delivered the following conferences:
1. Address to the Sons of St Patrick, Boston College, October 22, 2015 at Boston College: The Church in Africa and the Synod of the Family
2. Ratzinger and the Future of African Theology, October 17 – 19 2019 at Mundelein Seminary, Chicago IL: Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Reading of Political Power: Relevance for the Continent of Africa in the 21st Century
3. African Perspective of Benedict XVI’S Thought, November 27 – 29 2019 at the Catholic University of Central Africa, Yaoundé, Cameroon: Joseph Ratzinger and the Universality of Logos in Cultures: The Preference for Interculturality over Inculturation
4. St. John’s Seminary Faculty Lecture, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, July 1, 2020: The Sacraments of the Church: A Continuation of the Incarnate & Glorified Christ
5. Lecture to the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, October 27 2020: Conscience and the Discernment of the True and the Good in the Practice of Law
11. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Grants & Funding Received
Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice has received the following funding and grants which assisted him in his research and studies and to assist others and projects in Mamfe diocese:
1. Irish Memorial Fund, Boston College, 2013 – 2019
2. Institut Papst Benedikt XVI, Regensburg, Germany, 2016 – 2018 Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Foundation, Vatican City, 2019 – 2020
12. Revered Father Doctor Professor Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai : Interview
On May 21, 2019, an interview was conducted by John Tanyi Lebui titled “Boston: A Cameroonian Priest Speaks of His Journey with Pope Benedict XVI” to Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice. Find excerpt of the interview:
“John Tanyi Lebui: Tell us about this today?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Today, May 18, 2019, is Commencement day for Boston College. In this context, I received today the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, with humble pride.
John Tanyi Lebui: How did you come to this day?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Through the antecedent and consequent grace of God! It is a day that has been long in the making! My journey with Ratzinger/Benedict XVI began with my undergraduate theological studies at Hekima College, Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya. I could say that it has taken fourteen years to get to this day. I did my Licentiate in Theology on Ratzinger, specifically his Ecclesiology, that is, his theology of the Church. I found in Ratzinger a steady and sure compass for my own theological orientation. When my Bishop asked me to do a doctorate, it appeared naturally to me to continue along the theological path with Ratzinger.
John Tanyi Lebui: What is the central question of your doctorate dissertation?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: I studied the philosophical framework thanks to which one can arrive at a deeper understanding of the Christological and the Ecclesiological underlining presuppositions and convictions of Joseph Ratzinger, especially in the light of post-modern secular reinterpretations of the figure of Jesus of Nazareth and the community called the Church.
John Tanyi Lebui: Could you describe the main findings of your study?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Summarily, I found out that to understand Ratzinger’s Christo-Ecclesiology requires contextualizing Ratzinger in the hermeneutical framework of the Aufklärung, that is, the German Enlightenment, especially the figures of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger. Of course, the starting point is Descartes’ Discourse on Method, which marks the beginning of modern philosophy, though of French origin. Then Kierkegaard too, of Danish origin, comes into the scene. I couldn’t convince my dissertation supervisor and dissertation committee members of the ratio-character of Kierkegaard as a proto-Ratzingerian, because they tended to see Kierkegaard as fideistic. But I hope to argue for the contrary in my post-doctoral work. These sentiments of the philosophical context of Ratzinger’s thoughts are captured in the topic of my doctoral thesis: The Aufklärung as the Hermeneutical Framework of the Christo-Ecclesiology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.
John Tanyi Lebui: We know your home diocese of Mamfe is really proud of you and this achievement….
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: After the defense of my doctoral thesis on April 25, 2019, I received a very generous email from my Bishop, Mgr. Andrew Nkea. He described what has happened as a milestone in my life and in the life of the Diocese of Mamfe. I felt that was very gracious. In addition, Fr. Marcel Sang, a priest of my diocese, was present for the defense. In him, I felt the support of the Presbyterium of my diocese. It was beautiful that he came all the way from Rome to be present at my defense. Fr. Edmund Ugochukwu too was present. He is a priest of Mamfe in spirit, even if juridically he belongs elsewhere. Mamfe Diocese to me is the fairest daughter of Zion. Everything is from her and everything leads to her.
John Tanyi Lebui: What next for you Dr. Agbaw-Ebai?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: (laughs) I really do not think I am comfortable with the title “Dr.” To me, the most esteemed title is that I am called “Fr.” Do you know even my mother calls me “Fr”! It is awesome. That means the world to me. And I think it is the same with all priests. To respond to your question: My bishop, Mgr. Andrew Nkea, has asked me to do another degree in Philosophy. I have to continue working on that. I have always been fascinated by atheism, especially in its theoretical form. If God does not exist, says the Russian Dostoevsky, then everything is possible! Even Nietzsche’s Übermensch is a logical consequence of the death of God.But what kind of a world results from the death of God? Even in Nietzsche, the reaction is ambivalent. After the Churches have become the sepulchers of God, what is left of the human being? What is left, even of God? What kind of God dies? The God of theodicy? The God of metaphysics? The God of religious dogma? Is it necessary for the God of theodicy to die in order for the God of religious experience who suffers and love to rise? Can God return? What is the possibility of the return of God? Can there be a dialectical and existential rapprochement between theism, atheism and anatheism? These are some of the questions that I am considering in my philosophy project. I know this might sound shocking to you: I turn to be deeply fascinated by the thought of atheism, by the promises that it offers. But don’t get me wrong! I believe in the God of Jesus Christ, even if with a small faith! Adauge nobis fidem, I turn to say to the Lord! And perhaps that small faith is enough for the Lord!
In addition, I have my job as a professor at Boston College. Recently, there is the discernment about me going as a visiting lecturer at St. Mary’s University, Minnesota, to teach a course on the major themes of Ratzinger’s theology. Then there is the work of the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa, which is planning two theological conferences this year, in Chicago in October, and at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé, in November. Finally, with the permission of the Bishop of Mamfe, Boston is asking to administer a parish. I find this really interesting because it will be the first time that I will be a “resident pastor.” I have always been an assistant, in three parishes in Boston, at Newton, Medford and Georgetown. Now, I am being asked to move to another town. I hope I can help the community to deepen their friendship with Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. So, summarily, these are the things that will keep me busy and out of trouble (laughs), that is, working in the academia as a professor, while providing pastoral care to my new parish community. I count on your prayers.
John Tanyi Lebui: Any last word?
Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai: Gratitude. Gratitude to God. Gratitude to my mother and family. Gratitude to Mamfe Diocese for all that I have become today. Gratitude to the priests of Mamfe. Gratitude to Bishop Lysinge, my first pastor and father. Gratitude to Bishop Andrew Nkea, who has done so much for me more than I could ever have imagined, especially given what he has asked me to do or permitted me to do.Gratitude to my seminary classmates. Gratitude to the parishes and peoples with whom I have worked and shared my life with here in the Archdiocese of Boston. Gratitude to Fr. Christian Mofor (RIP). I believe his legacy lives on. I am sure he must be very happy that I am finally doing a degree in philosophy. He always wanted that. And finally, gratitude to Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, for shaping my life in ways beyond all telling. Best wishes and God’s abundant blessings to the readers of Cameroon Concord News Group.”
13. Bishop Nkea says Father Agbaw-Ebai loves the Church with his whole heart and he’s is not just a Catholic priest, but he is a true son of the Church
On 28, July 2019, at 10th Anniversary Mass of Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice, then Bishop Nkea said that Father Agbaw-Ebai loves the Church with his whole heart, and he’s is not just a Catholic priest, but he is a true son of the Church. These were the exact words of Bishop Nkea who delivered the homily in Boston:
“HOMILY AT THE MASS OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY TO THE PRIESTHOOD OF REV. FR. MAURICE AGBAW-EBAI, BOSTON, USA, 28TH JULY 2019
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today is a very important day in the life of Rev. Fr. Maurice Agbaw Ebai, Priest of the Diocese of Mamfe, Cameroon and Pastor of St. Anne’s Parish in the Archdiocese of Boston, United States of America. On this day, we have all joined to render thanks to Almighty God, who ten years ago, called Fr. Maurice to make a complete and irreversible donation of his entire life to the service of and to pour out his life as a libation for the redemption of souls. On this day, ten years ago, Fr. Maurice died with Christ on his altar of sacrifice, and after his ordination, he could say with St. Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Jesus Christ his Son, and to the Church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. On this day, ten years ago, Fr. Maurice prostrated himself before God and the Entire Church gathered in prayer, to empty himself of himself
My dear people of God gathered here with Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai to celebrate his tenth anniversary, I welcome you all to this great day in the life of this priest and I want to apologize that I could not stay in America long enough to be present at this occasion which I had agreed to preside over and preach. But since urgent duties recalled me home to the Diocese of Mamfe and the Church in Cameroon, I decided to ask Fr. Dieudonne Akawung, the Diocesan Finance Administrator to come to Boston and to preach this homily on my behalf which I had written to preach myself. I know that Fr. Dieudonne will deliver the homily well on my behalf, but the only difference is that he will be delivering the homily without a miter on his head. Some people in Mamfe had asked me if I was going all the way to the United States to celebrate only a tenth anniversary, what would I do if it were a silver Jubilee? My answer to them was a quotation from the Psalmist who said, “One day in his house is better than a thousand elsewhere” and again, the same Psalmist who said in another instance that “a thousand years for God is like a day just come and gone” (Ps.90:4). To be a priest even for one day only, brings a lot of glory and honour to name of Jesus Christ who is the Supreme High Priest of the New Covenant. If after nine years of seminary formation, a priest had the chance to celebrate only one Mass and died, he would have fulfilled the reason for his ordination, because his first Mass and the Mass of his golden Jubilee in the priesthood is one continuous sacrifice, during which he re-enacts in an un-bloody way, the bloody sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Cross for the salvation of the world. Therefore, this celebration is not about Fr. Maurice, it is about glory and honour to the Name of Jesus Christ whom he has been so blessed to serve with devotion and loyalty all these ten years.
However, while we give honour and glory to God, we must remember the quote from St. Augustine who said “Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not”. It is in this light I wish to join you all and say to Fr. Maurice, a big Congratulations on your tenth anniversary. Within these ten years, God has used your hands to dispense his blessings to thousands of people, God has used your mouth and your voice to bring his Good News and consolation to thousands of Christ’s Faithful. Within these ten years, God has used you to bring absolution and forgive the sins of thousands of people everywhere in the confessionals. Within these ten years, many have been born through you in the waters of baptism, and above all every day, you have stood in the place of Christ to celebrate the Eucharist and raise the cup of salvation on behalf of the people of God entrusted to your care. Fr. Maurice and many of us will now understand better what St. Augustine meant when he said, “without us, God will not”. Thank you, Father Maurice, for making yourself an instrument in the hands of God for all these years so that God’s graces may come down from heaven and rest on his people on earth. Through you, heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled with God. For this, we can only say “Glory be to God on high, and congratulations to you, man of goodwill.”
In the Letter to the Hebrews, it is stated that every high priest has been taken out of mankind, and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins… No one takes this honour on himself, but each one is called by God as Aaron was (Heb. 5:1-4).
The priesthood thus is a gift and at the same time, it is a mystery. It is a gift in the sense that it is freely given by God. That is why Christ says in John 15:16 that you did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.
It is a mystery because it is something that can never be understood. How can a human being command God to come into bread? How can human being touch water and it becomes holy? How can a human being throw a bit of water on your head and original sin is taken away? How can a human being wave his hands in the air and impart the blessing of God? How can a human being say, “I absolve you” and sin is taken away? This remains a mystery, more or less like the Trinity, the most ancient of all mysteries. Even the priest who carries the priesthood in him does not fully understand it. He simply exercises this ministry in faith, knowing that the Lord who called him and whom he is serving, will not let him down.
The priest is a man of God and he never acts in his name but in the name of the one who sent him. That is why every time the priest carries out liturgical function, he does so in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He never does this in his own personal name.
There are two things I would like you people to understand today about priests on this day on the tenth anniversary celebration of Fr. Maurice.
The first is that Priests called by God are human and sinners like all other people. That is why St. Paul Says in 2Cor. 4:7; that we are only earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. Priests fall down in different ways from time to time. The twelve Apostles called on Holy Thursday to be priests were men, with faults and failings. Fr. Columba, an Irish Priest said in one of his homilies that The first Pope, St. Peter was rash and bad tempered. He also denied Christ in His hour of need. St. Mathew was a swindler who co-operated with his country’s enemies. And poor St. Thomas wasn’t too sure about what he believed or where he stood. If God only relied on the virtuous and the perfect, he would have very few (or no) priests. I for one standing here would not even come anywhere near the altar.
In this regard, I want to say that most often Christians see the man in the priest and not the priest in the man. Many people only look at the man in the priest, and some people may not even believe in the miraculous work of God through the priest. But when we look at the priest in the man, we transcend his own petty weaknesses and see the grace of God at work in us through the instrumentality of human beings. It is in this connection that the church teaches us about the principle of ex opereoperato to mean that the efficacy of the sacrament does not depend on the worthiness of the priest. He is a simple instrument that has to struggle for his own salvation in fear and trembling.
The second thing I want you to understand about priests is that their life is not their own. They have offered it to the church, and they do everything according to the mind of the Church. They must conform therefore not to the standards set by men but to the standards set by God and the Church. These standards come out in the way they minister to their people. Before you think of the one wrong of a priest, remember the thousand good things he does for his flock daily. Satan exists in the community to ruin it. The priest is a good and struggling man. His goodness is and should not only be seen when de dies. Always be ready to appreciate what a priest does for you, never take it for granted.
From the day Fr. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Mamfe, he has done his work to the best of his ability, and like his Bishop, I want to use this chance to thank him for the priest that he has been. The real seminary for the priest is the Ministry, and thus we rise and fall in our attempt to give our all to God. The one thing I know for certain about this priest, all his human weaknesses notwithstanding, is that he loves the church with his whole heart. He is not just a Catholic priest, but he is a true son of the Church and he is ready to defend the doctrine of the Church with such passion that could be seen only in the likes of St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius and his mentor in the faith, Pope Benedict XVI. I encourage him on this day that his faith may never fail, so that he may always remain a source of strength to his brothers and sisters in Christ. I invite all of you in this Church today to pray in a very special way for our celebrant, that he may remain faithful to Christ, loyal to the Church, fervent in prayer and constant in love for the Christians he serves in the Archdiocese of Boston.
I wish each and every one of you a very happy celebration, and once again to Fr. Maurice, Happy tenth Anniversary and God bless you all.
+Andrew NKEA, Bishop of Mamfe.”
Finally, Fr Paul Ajong of the BVM wrote on April 17, 2022 from Salem, Massachusetts: “Today, permit me shine the light and say Congratulations to Rev. Fr. Dr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai who hands over as the Parish Priest of Sainte Anne Salem to take up his new appointment as a Permanent Formator at St John’s Seminary, Boston. Fr Maurice is a Priest of the Diocese of Mamfe Cameroon currently serving in the Archdiocese of Boston, USA. Giving his vast and deep knowledge in Theology and Philosophy and having obtained a Doctoral Degree in both fields; bearing in mind his love for the Church and the people of God placed in his charge and giving the number of years he has faithfully served as a Priest; it was no surprise to me when Fr Maurice told me he has been appointed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston to join the permanent formation team that trains young men to the Ministerial Priesthood. Many of us having been seminarians under his watchful and fatherly care, I have no doubt that he will make one of the best Formators for our young people discerning the call to the Sacred Priesthood. We pray that God continues to strengthen him. In addition to this new responsibility, Fr Maurice is also a lecturer in Boston College and other Universities around Boston area. He also sacrifices to give lectures in CATUC, the Catholic University of our Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province. His love and admiration for the Pope Emeritus Bénédicte XVI has led him into a deep probing and understanding of Ratzinger’s Intellectual Richness. He therefore also heads the Branch of the Ratzinger Institute in the Central African States under development. We thank him for the work he has been doing not only for the Archdiocese of Boston but also for the great source of blessing he has been for his home Diocese of Mamfe Cameroon. Join me Congratulate Fr. Maurice on this great day that the Lord has made and bid us rejoice. We pray that God strengthens him in this new responsibility with all the graces needed. God bless you all.”
I wish to end this encomium by wishing Rev. Fr. Dr. Prof. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai the very best as he begins this new ministry. Thank you for making the diocese of Mamfe proud. May the good Lord protect him and guide him with the necessary graces to accomplish this significant mission in the Church. Amen.
This encomium was respectfully, devotedly, affectionately, and prayerfully submitted today for publication.
Written by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, B. Phil. (Mexico), STB. (Roma), JCL/MCL. (Ottawa); Diploma in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Dutch; [Degrees earned in order to serve mankind better and not otherwise]; Doctorate Candidate at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Katholisch Theologische Fakultät, Ökumenisches Institut, Münster, Deutschland, Europe.