The Ohaian Spirituality
Ohai practised the Franciscan spirituality to the core. He gave up everything like St Francis of Assisi to follow Christ Crucified and would not allow anything or anybody to come between him and the Master. St Francis abandoned his wealth and when his father became an obstacle, he also abandoned him. Ohai gave up his patent shop for the seminary. Age was no barrier. He believed in discipline. Little wonder, he became a disciple of Jesus through a life of asceticism, humility, prayer, hard work and charity.
Voluntarily accepted poverty simply means total trust and dependence on God, for the sake of the kingdom of God. It is a deliberate and free choice. Christ, purposely lived poor, worked with his own hands as a carpenter, and chose to die like a pauper; a criminal. Fr Gilbert Ohai was known for his love for manual labour. He was extraordinarily hardworking.
The biggest enemy of poverty is the monosyllable; ‘MY’ and the aftermath of poverty are charity, benevolence, sincerity and purity. He kept nothing for himself.
Fr Ohai embraced sister Poverty in imitation of his Master, JESUS. He preferred to take garri without sugar or milk, and like Michael Cyprain Iwene Tansi the Blessed, he loved roasted yam a lot. He ate neither fish nor meat and had only two soutanes. He preferred to sleep on a mat and denied himself the pleasure of cruising in a car. All these were done to keep the flesh under check.
Like St Francis of Assisi whom he imitated, he walked on bare foot except where there were pebbles or broken bottles. Unlike his contemporaries, he never prided himself in riding in expensive cars rather he rode a bicycle which aided him to carry his mass box and herbs. He celebrated about seven masses on Sundays and was never late in all. He never complained.
Obedience for Fr Ohai is a very salient virtue which every child of God must exhibit. Like his Master, Jesus who said that his food was to do the will of the one who sent him. Ohai’s will was to do the will of God through the authority of the church. Little wonder, when the Archbishop Emeritus, Most Reverend A.K Obiefuna requested for priest-missionaries for the riverine area, he ran like our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary in child-like obedience to fulfill the mandate of God through his servant, the archbishop. He, also, inculcated the same virtue to the children living with him and those in the school.
Fr Ohai prized education as a veritable tool for the promotion of the good news of Christ. Hence the building of the school, Seat of Wisdom Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools (currently… Fr Ohai Group of Schools) there in Oroma-Etiti, Anam. He was humble to the core, assiduous, industrious, prayerful, caring and very meticulous in following the Master. He was a ‘yes’ man and followed the master with fear and trembling. He knew where he was going.
According to Late Archbishop A.K Obiefuna, common goodness is not enough for the holy priesthood, excelling goodness is. A priest must be holier than his people (Homily, July, 2003). In view of this, Thomas Aquinas states that holiness must come before the holy orders. This was exemplified in the life of Fr Gilbert Ohai. No one encountered him and remained the same. His life was a challenge to his detractors who saw him as an extremist and for his admirers, he was a living saint.
In summary, the ohaian spirituality is a spirituality characterized with living for God and caring for others, and taking the good news to grassroots.