The Life and Times of Rev. Fr. Martin Usen Akpan

Fr. Martin's early years in the Priesthood

When we look back at the life of man on earth, many a time, we ask God so many questions, questions that actually need no answers because, as Christians, we already have answers, deep down the dungeons of our hearts.

When it comes to the question of death, as Christians, we know what it means. We know how important death is to all those who believe in God.  We know that in dying we are born as new creatures with celestial bodies – bodies that cannot be seen by mortal eyes; sinless bodies; bodies that reunite us with God, in a bliss that is only reserved for those who served Him, not as a right but as an exceptional privilege.
Fr. Martin among friends and family

But when death comes, we cry! Our tears are not that we do not know what death means to us as Christians. It is often because of the haunting emptiness that death brings to us; the dreams that it kills; the hopes that it betrays and the love that it fades out. 

When we reach out our hands to touch the one we loved; when we wish that he speaks to us again in that sweet melodious voice; when we wish to see him move again and do the things we loved together; when all these wishes cloud our minds, we begin to cry, and we wish, it was not today. But, which day will we ever wish it to be. None!
Fr. Martin's Birthday Celebration

If it were possible to turn back the hands of time, we would have preferred today to be the Eleventh Day of November 1966, when the family of Kt. Peter Asuquo Akpan and Lady Philomena Grace Akpan, with eight other siblings, welcomed with joy and celebrations, the birth of Martin Usen Akpan. Though, it was barely four months after the bloodiest revenge coup of Gowon and during the most extreme pogrom that drank drums of blood of southerners, this birth Martin, an awesome looking baby, was for the family a concrete reason to celebrate!
Fr. Martin, A Formator with the heart of Gold

But, if we turn back the hands of time, we will have to go through the thick bushes again, starved and drained to death, because of the Biafran civil war that was to follow, a year later in, 1967. But the truth is, in the face of war, turning your eyes to see your loved ones, gives you the courage to live through the war. With a pride of a child like Martin, the family of nine built the courage to withstand the scourge of a severe political and economic turbulence that rocked the South Eastern Region in the 60s.

In 1972, during the post-civil war reconstruction period, the 6-year-old Martin Akpan got enrolled in Jubilee Primary School, Aka Offot. There in, the young boy underwent his primary education, uninterrupted, for the next six years. In 1978, he received his First School Leaving Certificate with glowing smiles.
Fr. Martin with his brothers

Inspired by a well-formed Catholic family that he came from, Martin began to nurse the feeling of celebrating Mass, of being a reverend father!  But much was still within him and he still had a long ladder to climb.

Nevertheless, on September 1978, he took the first step to realizing his dreams. Martin secured admission to begin class one in Cardinal Ekandem Seminary, Uyo. For the next five years that was to follow, the young boy put his axe together and secured clean, admirable records from the minor seminary. By 1983, when his West African Certificate Examination was given to him, with a stainless testimonial to his behaviour, Martin prayed to God to bless his dreams.

Barely, two years later, God answered his prayers. The young man, now nineteen years old was enrolled into Saint Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, for a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, in 1985. With his target in his fore thought and for the next three years, he worked through his books and bagged his degree in Philosophy with splendid colours in 1988.
His happiness cannot be complete without children

After his one-year statutory probation, it was not a time to look back. For the young man, and always in his life till his final days, what he needed was always in front not behind. He resumed for his studies in Theology in the same Seminary in 1989. Again, after three years, Martin Usen Akpan, came back home with a Bachelor of Divinity from the Urban University of Rome.

The then Local Ordinary, Most Rev. Joseph Ekuwem DD, ordained, Martin Usen Akpan as a Deacon and appointed him, a Deacon in-charge of St. Cyril’s Spiritual Year Seminary, Uyo.

On the Thirteen day of November 1993, barely months after his Diaconate, the long-nursed dream of Martin Akpan came to reality when he answered to his name with a burning candle on his right hand. He went down on his knees and took the oath of Obedience to a Faith that he practiced with diligence till his last breath.
He was a social mixer, simple and lovely

His appointment wasted no time as he resumed his office as the Assistant Priest in-charge of St. Andrew Parish Ikot Okure, Uyo, in 1993. In the same year, he became the Formator, St. Cyril’s Spiritual Year Seminary, Uyo, till 1998.

While in the office, his dedication to service, trustworthiness and discipline earned him more offices within the diocese of Uyo. Such that the next year, 1994, Fr. Martin became the Bishop’s Personal Assistant. Still holding the other two offices, Fr. Martin was attached as an Assistant Priest, Christ The King Cathedral Parish Uyo, in 1995, during which he also served as a priest in charge of Word Ministry. Additionally, between 1996-1997, Fr. Martin Served as a priest in-charged of Bishop’s Court.

His vibrancy and dedication to service took him through, St. Hilary Parish, East Itam, St. John Parish, Abak Road, Uyo, the chaplaincy of Adiaha Obong Secondary School and Uyo Prisons and ultimately as the Cathedral Administrator, for the Diocese of Uyo.
Fr. Martin's  smiles were Inspiring

Fr. Martin’s services did not stop in Uyo. In 1998, he was posted out for an international apostolic service at Parrocchia San. Domenico, San Vito Dei  Normani – Brindisi. Between 1998 and 2000, he served at Collegio Inglese, Roma. And from 2001 to 2007, Fr. Martin Served at Parrocchia Santa Maria della Presentatione Santa Maria Della Presentazion, Vignanello - Viterbo.
Fr. Martin with his community in Italy

When he returned in 2008, Fr. Martin resumed the office of the Rector St. Cyril Spiritual Year Seminary, Uyo and also serving simultaneously as the Priest in-charge, Assumption Parish, Obio Ibiono, Uyo and the Formator/Spiritual Director:  Institute of Consecration Life/Society of Apostolic Life – WMHF, Uyo.

From 2009 to 2012, Fr. Martin served as the Diocesan Vocation Director also as the member of the Diocesan Personnel Board, the Diocesan Curia and the Diocesan Liturgist.
Veneration of the Cross, Italy

Fr. Martin’s quest for knowledge did not end with his degree in Theology. He went further for his Licentiate at the Faculty of Spirituality of Pontifical Theological Faculty, Rome between 1998 and 2000. While studying for his Masters’ Degree in Psychology, from the University Regina Apostolorum, Rome, he combined it with his doctorate degree in Spirituality and graduated from both fields in 2005.

Today, nature has bereft us of the opportunity to behold this noble man whose life had touched so many – A priest for all, a friend for all, the old and the young, defender of the Catholic Faith, a philanthropist, and a unique composer.

Though sad, but today, we still have many reason to thank God for the life of Fr. Martin Usen Akpan. Not only that Fr. Martin had a very hardworking and decent life that became a torchlight to many in the Church and the society, Fr. Martin began with God and prayers and ended his life with God and Prayers.
Fr. Martin, a priest for all!

After very minor medical diagnoses, Fr. Martin called for the administration of the sacraments of which Fr. Andinyene Udofia administered to him the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Only five minutes after that, the Fifty-two-year-old man, relaxed on his bed!
These smiles will live in our minds Forever!

While we morn his death, we have the virtues of obedience, dedication to service, truthfulness, Faith and love to learn from him.

Idiongo Ebong

3 comments:

  1. "... My Eyes Are Sunken With Grief..." The Great Psalmist Will Say

    Though It Looks Magical But Its Reality

    ReplyDelete
  2. A priest like no other in duty and dedication. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Caro Padre Martino, รจ stao un piacere conoscerti, sei stato un vero discepolo di Dio, hai aiutato tante persone i Toscani ti ringtaziano di cuore e siamo sicuri che le tue grazie arriveranno anche dal cielo, dove tu riposi in pace....grazie Roberta/Empoli

    ReplyDelete