The parish community of St. James the Apostle Church in Springfield said farewell to its priest- in-residence, Rev. Everest Peter Baniyet and wished him Godspeed on Sunday, June 25, 2017, with a special mass followed by a barbeque on the church grounds. The mass was concelebrated by Rev. Joseph F. Barbone, St. James’s pastor; Rev. Silvano Kim, parochial vicar; Rev. John D. Dennehy, weekend associate; and Rev. Jonathan Yabiliyok, also from Nigeria, currently in residence at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in Maywood. Deacon Daniel O’Neill assisted.
Speaking from the pulpit, “Fr. Everest” fondly recalled the warmth and friendship he experienced from the entire parish while serving at St. James, and he thanked Rev. Barbone for caring for him like a son. He also thanked members of the Nigerian community who were present at the mass for welcoming him and looking out for him while he was living in New Jersey. Rev. Yabiliyok also thanked the community of St. James for the care and concern the parish showed Fr. Everest during his stay in Springfield.
Fr. Everest, who has been living at St. James while studying for a Masters degree in Moral Theology at Seton Hall University, returned to his native diocese in the state of Kaduna in northern Nigeria on July 1. According to Fr. Everest, Christians in Kaduna are persecuted on a daily basis.
Upon returning to Nigeria, Fr. Everest will begin his new position as chaplain at the Federal Polytechnic College. The Catholic church associated with the college was destroyed in recent years by Jihadists and is in the process of being rebuilt. Currently there is a lack of electricity in the area. At the conclusion of the mass, Rev. Barbone announced that the parish was giving Fr. Everest a check for $5000 to help install solar energy panels in the Nigerian rectory.
Photo: Rev. Everest Baniyet celebrated his final mass at St. James the Apostle Church in Springfield on June 25, 2017.