5 minutes with Father Martial Oya

October 2, 2012

SPRING — Father Martial Flodort Oya, Parochial Vicar at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Community in Spring, was ordained as a priest January 2012. Originally from French-Cameroon, he moved to the U.S. seven years ago and lived in the Bronx, N.Y., for a couple of years before joining the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. He recently discussed his first eight months as a priest with the Texas Catholic Herald.

TCH: How did you end up in your current job/position? 
Father Oya: I was ordained a Catholic priest on Jan. 14, 2012, at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. Soon after, I was assigned as the parochial vicar. 

TCH: What are your current projects or what are you working on at the moment?
Father Oya: As parochial vicar, my primary role is to help my pastor, Father Norbert Maduzia Jr., in his ministry in shepherding the parishioners here at St. Ignatius Loyola. Father Norbert appointed me as Director of the Pastoral Care Ministry here at St. Ignatius. I also serve as the clergy liaison to the altar servers and chaplain of the Legion of Mary. In addition, I am the Associate Chaplain of our Knights of Columbus Council. 

TCH: When and why did you decide to become a priest? Who or what most influenced your call to religious life? 
Father Oya: As early as age six I wanted nothing more than to be a priest (just like my parish priest in my home town of Tonga, Cameroon). I entered the seminary when I was 22 years old. I earned degrees in philosophy and theology. Right at the point of being ordained to the diaconate, I started having lingering doubts and questions about my vocation, which forced me to take a break from formal formation in order to reflect. I used to say to myself that priesthood is not just a matter of one year, or two, or three. It's for one's whole life. At the time, I felt that I wasn't ready for a lifelong commitment in the priesthood.

TCH: What might be the most memorable moment of your life as a priest so far?
Father Oya: Celebrating the Eucharist and Confession are the most memorable moments of my priesthood so far. The consecration time at Mass is a unique and indescribable moment in my life. I feel fulfilled and totally immersed in the sacrificial mystery of what I celebrate. No words can express how I feel when I celebrate Mass. It has now been eight months since my ordination. The excitement and joy are still the same; and I don't ever want to lose them. I am happy to be a priest. Moreover, I believe after wandering for a long time in discernment, I found my unique and true vocation: the priesthood of Jesus Christ. 

TCH: What has challenged you as a priest?
Father Oya: It's always been a struggle for me to please everybody. I need to learn how to say "no" sometimes in order to properly attend to my various commitments. I have found myself struggling to say "no" to many requests from parishioners even when I know I'm overextended. With experience, I will learn to better balance my schedule in order to be saying "yes" to as many people as possible.

TCH: How would you define vocation?
Father Oya: Generally, vocation means a divine call to God's service or the Christian life. This is a prodigious privilege; and one must relish how special this is in their life. For me to become a priest of Jesus Christ is an honor that no words can ever describe. "Every High Priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God… No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God." (Hebrews 5:1, 4)

TCH: What do you do for fun? 
Father Oya: I go walking, play soccer, read, watch TV and spend time with friends.

TCH: Is there anything you would like to add?
Father Oya:
 Being a priest is the most amazing blessing I have ever received from God in my whole life. I am happy to serve God's people and to bring His grace to them through the sacraments. Sometimes, we close ourselves up to God's call. I think I am fulfilled today in my ministry because I placed my trust in God. I totally surrendered myself to Him. He has never failed me. He will never fail you.