When the Rev. Maurice Emelu ’12G stood to deliver a homily at what he thought was just another Mass, he had no idea he was auditioning for a host position on an EWTN (Global Catholic Television Network) show.
“I was preaching, and afterward, someone approached me to see if I’d like to be on EWTN,” Fr. Emelu says. “I came down for what I thought was just a visit, but they were auditioning me for an internship. This led me to saying live Masses on EWTN. At the time, I was studying at JCU, and I received a call from management proposing the show to me.”
Fr. Emelu, who proudly completed his program in The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, conducting qualitative and quantitative (he analyzed 355 survey respondents) study of social media use in Nigeria. The project is recommended for publication at OhioLink, the Ohio Library and Information Network.
More recently, Fr. Emelu completed a 13-episode series with EWTN titled “The Faith with Fr. Maurice.” The focus of the show is to teach the truth about Christianity and Catholicism to a broad audience through a series of unique topics. The show – which will be shown in Africa, Europe, and America – was filmed at EWTN’s headquarters in Irondale, Ala. Fr. Emelu, who’s from Nigeria, is the first African to host a show in EWTN’s 22-year history.
“It’s something the network hasn’t had the opportunity to do,” says Mark Kaczperski, the show’s producer.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Fr. Emelu says. “It’s challenging to be sure, but it convinces me of God’s will to use different instruments to preach the Gospel. I’m a humble servant who God has asked to do this task. I’m open to do what God wants me to do at any time. I’m proud to be a part of this pioneering project.”
Fr. Emelu, who comes from the town of Umuchima in Eastern Nigeria, studied at the Seat of Wisdom Seminary in Owerri, Imo State, before coming to Carroll. A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Orlu in Nigeria, he’s earned degrees in philosophy, theology, and journalism. Fr. Emelu was introduced to JCU through the bishop of the diocese of Orlu in Nigeria, the Most Rev. Augustine Ukwuoma, Ph.D., who lived in Cleveland and thought highly of Carroll. Two priests in the diocese completed graduate programs in education at JCU, and Bishop Ukwuoma recommended the school to Fr. Emelu for his studies in communication. Fr. Emelu met with president Robert L. Niehoff, S.J., who offered him a scholarship.
Fr. Emelu’s decision to become a priest was made at a young age, due in large part because of his mother’s influence.
“My mother laid down the foundation for the priesthood for me,” he says. “As I was growing up, I felt like God was calling me to give people knowledge of God and know the truth of God’s word. Being available for God’s service is something that gives me great joy.”
Fr. Emelu’s passion and speaking ability are why he was chosen for the job. His unique ability to attract listeners and keep them attentive made him stand out to the EWTN staff.
“He’s a knowledgeable speaker and passionate about spreading the church’s teaching,” Kaczperski says. “He’s fun to work with because he has a lot of energy. It was a joy to listen to him. He’s an interesting person, and you learn quite a bit by listening to him talk. He has a way of grabbing your attention, and I know audiences will respond favorably when they hear him speak.”
Some topics that will be discussed in the series are the journey of faith, the examples of Abraham and Mary, faith and doubt, and the triumph of faith over superstition. Each week, Fr. Emelu hopes to discuss relevant and debatable topics and weave his own perspective into them. He also hopes to make the perspective of his home country known to viewers.
“This is the first EWTN weekly series with an African perspective about the Catholic faith,” he says. “I’m proud to be a part of it and bring that perspective, but I’m just an instrument of God’s will.”
– Molly Bealin ’14