Scott Warden
June 26, 2024 // Diocese

After 17 Years, Father Enemali ‘Grateful’ for Serving Diocese

Scott Warden

Father Mark Enemali was 12 years old when he first felt the Holy Spirit tug on his heart. During elementary school in his hometown of Ankpa, in central Nigeria, he had gotten to know priests of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit – known as Spiritans or Holy Ghost Fathers. The order was founded in France in the mid-1800s, and priests of the order served as missionaries in French-speaking colonies across the world, particularly in Africa.

In 1989, a young Father Enemali attended an ordination Mass for the congregation. He told Today’s Catholic that he remembers listening to the Litany of the Saints being sung in Latin during the Mass, “And from that point, I just said, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a priest. I would love to be a priest.’”

After being ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross on July 1, 2006, Father Enemali was assigned as a missionary in Tanzania, where he served as a parochial vicar. His stay there was short-lived.

Scott Warden
Father Mark Enemali poses for a photo at Immaculate Conception Parish in Auburn, where he served as administrator and then pastor since 2021. Father Enemali, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, is a native of Nigeria who has served in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since 2007. His farewell Mass at Immaculate Conception was held on Sunday, June 16.

While he was studying theology as a seminarian at Tangaza College in Nairobi, Kenya, Father Enemali met two professors from the University of Notre Dame – John Cavadini, Chair of the theology department, and Spiritan Father Paulinus Odozor, Coordinator of the university’s Africa Initiative. Following ordination, Father Enemali’s congregation encouraged him to apply to the African Initiative, which provides the opportunity for priests in Africa to study at Notre Dame in its Master of Theological Studies program.

Accepted into the prestigious program, Father Enemali came to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 2007. While earning his master’s degree in theology (in 2009) and a doctorate in biblical studies (in 2014), Father Enemali has served in various roles at parishes across the diocese. He was a priest in residence at Our Lady of Hungary in South Bend, first under Father Lawrence Teteh, a fellow Nigerian – and fellow Holy Ghost Father – who served as a mentor to the young priest, then under Father Kevin Bauman.

After earning his Ph.D., Father Enemali’s superior with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit permitted him to stay in the United States for a year to gain experience working in parish life. In 2014, Bishop Rhoades assigned him to St. John the Baptist in New Haven, where he worked under the parish’s pastor, Father Bill Sullivan. The two priests formed what Father Enemali calls “a beautiful friendship” that “has continued to this day.”

In the summer of 2015, Father Enemali was assigned as administrator of St. Robert Bellarmine in North Manchester while the parish’s pastor at the time, Father Drew Curry, went to Guatemala to participate in a Spanish immersion program. In the fall of 2015, after spending eight years away from his home country, Father Enemali returned to Nigeria, where he taught at the seminary for three years, returning to the United States each summer to participate in academic conferences.

In 2018, Father Enemali returned to the diocese. He served briefly as a priest in residence at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne before being assigned once again to St. John the Baptist in New Haven. Since 2021, Father Enemali has served the community of Immaculate Conception Church in Auburn, first as administrator of the parish and then as its pastor.

This past spring, Father Enemali learned he was being assigned to teach theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, a college founded by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Father Enemali says that while it is a role in which he’s eager to serve, he will miss the people he’s grown close to throughout the past 17 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

“The generosity I have experienced has been spectacular,” Father Enemali told Today’s Catholic. “I cherish the lasting friendships I’ve made over the years.”

He added: “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Rhoades for his love for me and my religious order. He was very supportive of me during my challenging moments. The diocese’s presbyterate offered me brotherhood when I needed it most. I thank them. I also express my profound gratitude to the diocese’s faithful, especially my friends at Our Lady of Hungary in South Bend, St. John the Baptist in New Haven, and Immaculate Conception in Auburn.”

The news of his assignment to Duquesne came as a surprise, Father Enemali said. He assumed his order would call him back to teach at the seminary in Nigeria, but they had other plans for him, and, as he’s done throughout his priesthood, he goes where he is called.

“As religious, we take three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience,” Father Enemali said, noting that his “devout obedience” has led to immeasurable blessings. And so, regardless of where he’s called, he said, he continues to “constantly to surrender and say, ‘Here I am, Lord; I’ve come to do your will.’”

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