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“Being CAN leader taught me about other Christian denominations”- Rev. Fr. Peter Olowolafe

Rev. Fr. Peter Olowolafe is the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ekiti State chapter. A native of Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti South-West Local Government Area of the state, the man, who is in his 40s, will soon retire from his position as CAN chairman after serving out his term. He spoke to the Sun on his call into the ministry, his life generally, and his likes and dislikes.

Tell us about your journey into the priesthood.

It started when I was enrolled at the Corpus Christi College, Ilawe-Ekiti. Corpus Christi is a Catholic school. There, we had the experience of having a Rev. Sister as one of our teachers. As a Catholic from childhood, there was that longing to serve God. After secondary school, there was a need for me to retake WASSCE. Because of that, I went to Ekiti State Government College for a year. And after that, I applied for the priestly formation under the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti. I was admitted and sent to the John of the Cross for a year of the spiritual programme. That year, the formation was purely prayer formation. I was sent to All Saints Seminary for my philosophical and theological studies. It lasted for seven years. After another four years of studies, I came back to Ekiti Diocese for my pastoral experience. Thereafter, I went back to the seminary for another three years of theological studies. On December 28, 2009, I was ordained a Deacon at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Ado-Ekiti. Some days after the ordination, I went back to the seminary to complete my formation for the last six months. After six months of study, I came back home and was posted to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Emure-Ekiti. I was finally ordained a priest on September 18, 2010, at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Ado-Ekiti, by the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaiye.

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When did you become the CAN chairman and how many years have you served?

I have been the CAN chairman now for three years. I was inaugurated with my executive members on July 1, 2019. And the tenure, according to the by-law of CAN in Ekiti State, is for three years. Therefore, by the grace of God, my tenure will come to an end on June 30, this year. That is to say, on July 1st, there will be another inauguration for a new chairman. However, last year, there was an amendment to the CAN national constitution, which shows that from July 1st this year, the new chairman is going to stay for a single term of five years. But, in my own case, I am to stay for three years.

You have been the chairman these three years. Could you share your experiences with us?

The experience has been full of good memories, though, sometimes sad. This is because of my being among other denominations that I am not used to. I am a pure Catholic and lived all my life in a Catholic environment. I went to Catholic primary and secondary schools. I went to a Catholic seminary for my studies. Therefore, being among other denominations at the beginning was hard for me. It was hard to adapt to their form of prayers. As Catholics, we pray mostly silently. But in other denominations, it is the other way round. I was not used to it. Therefore, I had to start adapting. There was one occasion a pastor said to me, with all seriousness: ‘Father, you are not saying ‘Amen’. There was a kind of ecumenical prayer and they answered Amen, Amen, Amen, and I just said, Amen. And, he said: ‘Father, make it loud.’ I told him: ‘please, don’t worry. I know that God understands with me.’ By and large, after these years, I have found out that the other denominations too have a lot to offer. I have learned a lot from them. And I will still continue to love to be among them even after ceasing to be the CAN chairman. During this year, I have had cause to visit almost all the churches or denominations. I have had cause to visit the CCN churches, that is, the white-garment churches. The first time I was there, they asked me to remove my shoes. It was a shock to me. Therefore, I had to get a nylon bag to put my shoes inside. Since then whenever I am going for their occasion, I don’t put on shoes. I put on palm slippers. But when I am going for a meeting, I would tell them I can’t remove my shoes. I have had cause to be at Pentecostal churches for prayers and programmes. Given the experience so far, I think I am happy and I appreciate God for giving me the opportunity.

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If you are not a priest, what line of trade or profession would you have gone into?

I would have gone into business. My father was a cocoa merchant trader. I was fully involved in his business. As a matter of fact, in 2001, I applied to study Economics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile-Ife, and Accountancy at The Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti. That same year, my contemplation of becoming a priest was becoming stronger. So when I applied to become a priest and sat for the exams, I was given admission immediately. That’s how I let go of my ambition to go to a university or Polytechnic. I am happy being a priest today.

What are your likes and dislikes?

I like people who are straightforward and truthful. I don’t have any reason to doubt people. I always believe people. I always trust people. And, therefore my dislike is simple: just don’t lie to me. Be sincere and truthful.

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