Father Christian Amah originally came to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, on a retreat, but his plans to return home to Nigeria changed.
“I’ve always been in the seminary when I was in Nigeria,” Father Amah said. “The first time I left the seminary was when I came to the United States, and then after a year outside the seminary through the help of spiritual guides, friends and through my own dominant desire, I came to realize I wanted to stay. I applied to stay in the United States.”
It was a difficult decision for Father Amah and his family. He is one of nine children and is very close to his family. The son of Elizabeth and the late Anthony, Amah credits learning the faith from his parents and older siblings. His family prayed together before bedtime and again in the morning.
“Leaving the seminary in Nigeria was a huge disappointment for everybody who knows me—beginning with my mother, my siblings and my relatives. Nobody supported this at the beginning,’’ said Father Amah, who had the desire to become a priest in high school, inspired by his parish priests.
“Going to the United States was a big challenge because I have nobody here that is close to me from my immediate family. But for some reason, I was almost certain that I was making the right decision.”
Father Amah, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the Seat of Wisdom Seminary in Nigeria, expressed his goal for the coming years as a priest.
“My primary goal is the goal of the Church, and that primary law is the law of salvation,” he said. “I want to bring people to have more encounters with Jesus Christ and bring more people to have an active faith life. It’s not just going out to tell people what to do. It’s being with them just as Jesus is with us. Jesus being with us allows us to be with others. I think that is the biggest difference a Catholic priest can make.
“I hope the gift of the priesthood will allow me to be with others in such a way that they will encounter the Lord more.”
Father Amah, 31, stays fit by running and playing soccer and tennis. He enjoys reading Scripture “because everything we do in church is the foundation from the word of God.” He also shared some missions he enjoyed while a student at the seminary.
“Helping the kids in CCD was really influential because you see how enthusiastic these young children were learning about God and spiritual life. That was very impactful for me,” he said.
“Working in a nursing home, I work with elderly people, and I see how happy they are to have us come. It’s not what we did for them, but it’s more what I gained from being with them. You see the faith and hope, and some of them are close to the Church and are looking forward to when the Lord will call them.”
Father Amah will celebrate his First Mass on Sunday, May 29, at 12:30 p.m. at St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Garnerville. Father Vernatius Chukwudum Offorka will deliver the homily.