St. Mary’s Army Barracks Welcomes A New Priest

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There was a reshuffle in the posting of priests under the military set-up in Nigeria. Last month, it was reported that the former amiable priest of the cantonment in the person of Rev. Fr. (Lt.) Ray Alamagaini (aka) “the tallest” has been posted to Owerri Cantonment but would inherit their location at Maraba in the Maiduguri war-ravaged area. In the same vein, another priest was posted to St. Mary’s Catholic Church to take his place, and the new priest came from Maiduguri, the war-ravaged area.

On the 28th of September being Saturday, the lucky priest showed up. I called him lucky because he came to inherit a “digital little house of no regret” built and equipped by Rev. Fr. Ray-Vick before his posting came out. He had never lived in it.

One would recall that our dear Bishop Dr. M. N. Okoro dedicated the beautiful house on the 30th June 2019. The new priest who is imbued with life and very hard working, Rev. Fr. (Lt) Raphael Ifejioku is from Delta State. He has characteristics of a charismatic fada having lived with Bishop Gbuji in his formative years as a priest.

When the new priest arrived on the 29th of September 2019, the amiable and adorable, lovable Rev. Fr. James Nwofoke who usually holds brief in St. Mary when there is a vacuum and who gets a nickname “BARRACKS” given to him by Fada Raphael, urged the congregation to accord Fada Raphael the same cooperation as they did to Fada Ray-Vic and of course, himself Fada James Nwofoke.

In response, Rev. Fr. Raphael said that soldier go, soldier come but Barracks remain and he jokingly reiterated that, that “BARRACK” is Fada James and the congregation roared in sheer joy and admiration.

One would agree with me that Fada James is not just “Barrack” but “Barriki”, the difference being that Barrack is the surface but Barriki is for those who are the “insiders,” who were born and bred in the Barracks or who had lived in the Barracks for upwards of 25 years and above who understands the cantonment as it were.

The handsome priest James is always there for us when there is a vacuum. He bends backward to meet the spiritual needs of the people for mass, confession, etc all at odd times. But he does not mind, he comes under rain or sunshine.

To some extent, some of us were goading him into asking the Bishop to allow him to live in the digital house which he also contributed a lot in Building – but he declined.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Community is grateful to the Military chaplaincy for sending a humble and dedicated Priest as Rev. Fr. (Lt) Raphael Ifejioku to them. We wish him a happy and successful tenure in St. Mary’s Catholic Chaplain Abakaliki.


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