St. John’s Catholic School students listen as Fr. Patrick Efé-egiughwe Agbodi, who is originally from Nigeria, explains why he decided to convert to Catholicism. Contributed

St. John’s students celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week

What religion were you born into? How many languages do you speak? What is your favorite country?

Those were among the many questions posed to Fr. Patrick Efé-egiughwe Agbodi by students at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick, who gathered Nov. 5 to hear how he discovered his vocation to the priesthood.

Efé-egiughwe Agbodi, who is originally from Nigeria, was invited to speak to the students as part of the school’s celebration of National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 3-9. He told the students that when he was growing up in Nigeria, his parents were followers of traditional African religion, which included the belief in one supreme God but also in other deities who assisted him.

“That was what I was born into, but I didn’t practice it,” he told them. “My parents used to practice that, but they didn’t stop me from going to church.”

Fr. Patrick Efé-egiughwe Agbodi visited students at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick on Nov. 5 to talk about his decision to become a priest. Contributed

Efé-egiughwe Agbodi said it was attending a Catholic school and getting to know a priest, whom he thought of as a spiritual father, that led to his love for Catholicism. He later joined the Society of African Missions and was ordained to the priesthood in 2000.

He joked with the students about the numerous languages and dialects he speaks and understands, saying it can be a challenge but also came in handy after ordination.

“After ordination, you’re supposed to say a Mass of Thanksgiving the first Sunday at your father’s place, and you must use his language, otherwise, uh oh, big trouble. Then, the following Sunday, you go to your mother’s place, and you must use your mother’s language to say the Mass,” he explained to the students.

At the time of his ordination, his father had passed away, but his mother, too, was studying to become Catholic.

The Society of African Missions is a missionary order, which led to assignments not only in Efé-egiughwe Agbodi’s native Nigeria but also in Liberia and Tanzania, before coming to the Diocese of Portland in 2017. He has served at All Saints Parish in Brunswick, which includes St. John’s Catholic School, since June 2018.

Patrick said while he has loved all the places he has been and served, he found East Africa to be particularly beautiful because it is not as modernized so the culture continues to shine through.

Bowdoin student interns at Telling Room

The Telling Room’s teaching assistant intern Sam Milligan. Contributed

Sam Milligan, who is a senior at Bowdoin College pursuing English and environmental studies, is the 2019-20 teaching assistant intern at The Telling Room. Milligan has already been instrumental in residencies at Marcia Buker Elementary School in Richmond and Harpswell Coastal Academy in Brunswick this fall. He has also been assisting in Writers Block: Works in Progress and various field trips.

The Telling Room offers free writing programs for Maine youth.