Father Cosmas K. O. Nwosuh, MSP (Missionaries of St. Paul)
‘I have never ceased to marvel at the
transformative power of God’s grace’
Father Cosmas K.O. Nwosuh, MSP, is parochial administrator at Holy Rosary Parish, Medicine Lodge, St. Boniface Parish, Sharon, and St. John the Apostle Parish, Kiowa. He is a native of Nigeria.
SKR: Why did you enter the religious life (other than being a diocesan priest)?
Father Cosmas K.O. Nwosuh, MSP: I think it is important I admit in all honesty that when I first considered the priesthood I did not know the difference between the religious life and the diocesan priesthood. Then I was about eight years old and an Altar server. But even at that young age, the reputation of a certain religious order, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (C.S.Sp.) or the Holy Ghost Fathers, a.k.a. the Spiritans, had captured my imagination. The Order had been the primer for missionaries in Eastern Nigeria from where I came. I grew up regaled with tales of their legendary zeal, sacrifices, and achievements. I do not know exactly when and where, but I believe that it was within this impressionable period in my life that I decided that if ever I became a priest, “I will be a Holy Ghost Father.” It was not that I never met many diocesan priests. I did! In fact some of those I had met were ex-students of my father and were frequent visitors to our home. But there was “something” about the Holy Ghost Fathers that had captured my imagination. It never left me. SKR: Why did you choose your particular congregation?
Father Cosmas: Yet, when a decade later I finally decided to pursue my dream for the priesthood in earnest, I did not end up with the Spiritans although I had applied to them for admission. But I had applied also to the new and emergent religious institute in the country called National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul. Again, even though I knew practically next to nothing about the emergent institute, I felt drawn to it. I guess it was the two leading adjectives, “National” and “Missionary” that had appealed most to me and nudged me to submit an application, since to me the words had a connotation of “broadness,” “universality,” and even “distance.” Somehow I felt that in joining the institute, I will still realize my dream of being a priest and a missionary like the Holy Ghost Fathers I had known by repute.
However, it was while I was already at seminary – studying the Constitutions of the Missionary Society of St. Paul – that I became informed of the difference between a religious congregation (like the Spiritans) and a Society of Apostolic Life (like MSP). Therefore in strict canonical terms the Missionary Society of St. Paul to which I belong is actually not a religious congregation (like the Dominicans, Franciscans, or Passionists). Whereas Societies of Apostolic Life have a lot in common with institutes of consecrated life, they however have some differences which we must admit are neither huge nor really radical. As a friend wittingly puts it, “The difference between them could be likened to the difference between six and a half of a dozen.”
SKR: What kind of ministries have you been/are you involved in?
Father Cosmas: Since my ordination into the Society over two decades ago, my ministry has been largely within the area of seminary formation, i.e. the training of candidates for the priesthood. My first assignment was to our “Formation House” where we run a two-year probation program for candidates before they begin their studies in philosophy and theology. In the Formation House I was involved in teaching, preaching retreats, and spiritual direction. After two years, and on the instructions of my superiors, I went to the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. There I completed the graduate program in Church History and assumed a new assignment at my society’s seminary, where I spent 10 years teaching, writing, and occasionally preaching retreats. I also served as the seminary’s Academic Dean and the Archivist of the Society.
SKR: What have been your greatest joys?
Father Cosmas: I think one of the greatest sources of my joy as a seminary teacher and formator is being present at the priestly ordination of my students. Each student is as unique as each set or class is. I have never ceased to marvel at the transformative power of God’s grace: transforming young (and sometimes “clueless”) seminarians into ministers of his Word and Sacrament. The experience is simultaneously joyful and humbling.
SKR: What have been your greatest challenges as a religious?
Father Cosmas: Some of the greatest challenges I have experienced include believing and accepting without resentment that God’s will for me is transmitted through my superiors; or practically giving up your will and life to be run by others.
SKR: Please offer a quote that makes a statement about the value of religious life for you.
Father Cosmas: For me the statement that best offers the value of religious life is: “Pro Christo legatione ergo fungimur” [We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)]. This happens to be the motto of my missionary Society.