"I had desired that one day I would serve Him"
Father Peter Faimega came to St. Louis in 2011 to serve in The Society of Our Mother of Peace, a religious community in High Ridge.
Among the ministries, he did with the community is door-to-door evangelization in north St. Louis.
"I enjoyed doing that so much," said Father Faimega, who also came to study theology at Kenrick-Glennon seminary.
But at the seminary, surrounded by classmates in formation to be parish priests, he felt called to parish life, celebrating the sacraments — especially Masses and confessions — with a parish family. So, he shifted his focus to ordination for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The impetus for that came "so much from my youth," said Father Faimega, who is the seventh of eight children and has 10 nieces and nephews. He had grown up in a "very good Catholic family" in Nigeria, thanks to Irish missionaries who celebrated Mass in his grandfather's home. He attended daily Mass at St. Margaret Parish in his home village of Tor Donga in Nigeria, and felt drawn to parish life. Similarly, he had felt "drawn to the faith" as a young boy.
He started to hear the call to the priesthood at about age 12, then began serving Mass a few years later, with inspiration from a parish priest.
"I admired him so much," he said of the priest, whom he described in an online biography as a '"celestial being,' in charge of the great King in the tabernacle, whom my mom told me died for my sins. I had desired that one day I would serve Him, just as my parish priest did. ... His goodness and exemplary life were a source of great encouragement to me in my vocation journey."
Father Faimega received Catholic grade school and high school education in Katsina-ala, which is about an hour from his village of 5,000. He received a bachelor's degree from John Paul II Major Seminary in Okpuno, about 220 miles from Katsina-ala.
After a friend introduced him to The Society of Our Mother of Peace, he felt the call to religious life, joined after a retreat and then headed to America. However, he received devastating news before his flight to New York: His dad, Sebastian, had died suddenly, but he was unable to return for the funeral, too far from home and about to leave the country.
"It felt so horrible," he said. "I miss him so much."
But Father Faimega persevered after arriving in the U.S. and now, he's been welcomed into the holy priesthood.
"I'm so so happy," he said.