Rt. Rev Monsignor Raphael Okechukwu Madu, Director Special Duties/Projects, Archdiocese of Owerri and Chaplain Imo State Government House Owerri, passed on to eternal glory on Sunday, January 17th, 2021 after a very brief illness. The quintessential achiever, servant of God, and the former Editor of The Leader, was also the Immediate Past Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).
alph Madu was bestowed with the honorary title of Monsignor by His Holiness Pope Francis on September 23, 2020 and invested with Monsignori Regalia on Saturday Nov. 28, 2020 at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri by Archbishop Anthony Obinna.
Below is the resume of his Life and Times:
Raphael Okechukwu Madu was born 65 years ago, on September 28, 1955 at Falomo, lkoyi, Lagos, the former capital city of the Nigerian nation and her commercial nerve centre. He was the fourth child and second son of his parents – late Pa Celestine Egwuegbu Madu and Mrs. Dorothy Chikere Madu, also of blessed memory; both of Avuvu Nunya lsuikwuato in present day lsuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State. His other siblings, five boys and three girls are: Bernadette, Margaret, Martin, Christian, Anna, Anicetus, Anthony and Celestine.
With the determination and frugality of their parents, Raphael and his other siblings had good education from primary to secondary levels; and later to tertiary institutions. Like his brothers, Raphael had his early education at St. George’s Boys Catholic School, Falomo lkoyi, Lagos. However, at the looming of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, his parents were forced to return home with their children. Back home, young Raphael continued his elementary school at St. Paul’s School Nunya, where he did his elementary five in 1966. In 1967, Pa Celestine relocated to Owerri with his family, so, young Raphael had to continue schooling at St. Paul’s Catholic School, Owerri and completed his elementary six there.
Desirous to serve the Lord as a priest of the Catholic Church, young Raphael sat for and passed the entrances and interviews of St. Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala and Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, in 1968. He enrolled in St. Mary Junior Seminary Umuowa Orlu, which was a preparatory to St. Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala in the old Owerri Diocese. While at St. Peter Claver Seminary, Raphael did his O’Level London General Certificate Examination (GCE) in 1975 coming out in flying colours in all the eight papers he offered with a good number of distinctions.
After a year’s apostolic work, Raphael was among the early pioneer students of the then Bigard Memorial Seminary (now St. Joseph) Ikot Ekpene where he studied and obtained his B.Phil with magna cum laude, in 1979. He was sent to Enugu for his Theology studies and in 1983 he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Theology (BD), magna cum laude.
IN THE SERVICE OF THE LORD
At the successful completion of his priestly training, Raphael Okechukwu Madu was ordained a Catholic priest at the Our Lady of Fatima Pro-Cathedral lsuikwuato in 1983 by the then Bishop of Owerri, the late Bishop Mark Onwuha Unegbu. It was a day of great joy for all the sons and daughters of lsuikwuato who turned out in their numbers to give honour to their illustrious son and rejoice with the Madu family.
After his ordination, Msgr. Ralph was posted to Mater Ecclesiae Seminary Nguru Mbaise, which was then in the Old Owerri Diocese but now belongs to Ahiara Diocese, to nurture the young ones towards the priesthood. He not only taught and formed junior seminarians, but served also as Vice Rector from 1983-1984. From there he was transferred to the Assumpta Press, Owerri as the Editor of The Leader Newspaper. During his one year stay at the Assumpta Press, Msgr. Ralph gave a good account of himself and discharged entrusted duties effectively and efficiently.
Late 1985, Msgr. Ralph was sent to the prestigious Catholic University of Leuvain, Belgium for further studies to major in philosophy. Being a French speaking University, he registered for French language. Towards the end of 1986 he obtained a Diploma in French Language and in 1988 a BA in Linguistics.
aving secured the necessary tools for his academic sojourn, Msgr. Ralph positioned himself effectively for higher studies in philosophy. By 1987 he obtained his M.Phil and in 1988 his M.Theo, all in the same University.
He completed his philosophical studies in summer 1990 with a Ph.D in a grand style under the tutelage of the famous Prof. Jean Ladriere. His versatility and gift of knowledge enabled him to realize his objectives in the field of education and at the close of summer, that year, young Rev. Msgr. Dr. Raphael Okechukwu Madu with many degrees in his kitty, proceeded to New York, Fordham University, for Post Doctoral studies. There, he had an MA in Education Administration and Supervision and the Professional diploma.
SPIRITUALITY OF LIFE
The greatest testimony to the spirituality of life of Rev. Msgr. Ralph Madu was his position as the Owerri Grand and National Spiritual Director of the Knights of St John International, and their Ladies Auxiliary (KSJI) a position he held for about 23 years. During this period, he provided an exemplary leadership in spiritual matters and prayers and guided the members in coming closer to God.
Testimonies by members of the Order in this respect abound in large numbers. His homilies were not only inspiring but also captivatively motivating; and impacted positively on the lives of many faithful, especially Catholic youths.