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Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (III): “A Wedding”


Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his third post:

A good friend of mine, Nicholas Ojehomon, was married on Saturday, Dec. 19 to a young woman, Amaka, whom I only knew slightly when I was president of Loyola Jesuit College from 1999 to 2005.

Like all church services in West Africa, the wedding ceremony was long–about two hours. Father Gerald W. Aman, S.J (FCRH ’69), the executive assistant to the Jesuit Provincial here, presided and preached.

He made a great deal in his homily about a passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians that doesn’t go over very weill in America:: “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22). Then the couple acted it out: she gathered her wedding dress around her and knelt before her seated husband, placing her hands between his and promised due submission.

I was feeling uncomfortable about this (I was concelebrating) when suddenly Fr. Aman dramatically reversed the situation. The Epistle goes on to say, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water and the word” (Eph 5:25-26). Fr. Aman seated Amaka and Nicholas knelt before her, removed one of her shoes, and washed her foot as Christ did at the Last Supper (John 13).

Somehow it transformed my understanding of that scriptural passage. I thought partucularly of a good friend in America who has recently lost his wife to cancer, and how he cared for her so tenderly to the end. Marriage, as the same Epistle says, “is a great mystery.”

I would like to send some pictures of this wedding taken by another friend who works at Loyola Jesuit College, but I don’t have them to forward just yet.

It is hot and dry in Abuja while it has been snowing in New York.


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