When your world comes crashing down, in moments when you need answers, Fr. Charles Obinwa, of St. Joseph's Parish in Fort Jennings, says to spend the tough times in church.
Obinwa, a native to Nigeria, Africa, came to America in 2002 after a leg and hip injury.
"I came to America to have my hip and leg fixed," said Obinwa. "After I healed, I spent awhile in Toledo before I came to Delphos."
After Obinwa came to live in Delphos, he began training as a Chaplain and helped out with the parish in Van Wert.
"I was training to be a chaplain and worked in Van Wert for four years. I ended up in Lima at St. Rita's, when a chaplain position opened up, and I have been there ever since. I recently started helping with St. Joseph's Parish in Fort Jennings."
One of the first things Obinwa noticed within the community was that the youth was not attending Mass over the weekend.
"First of all, I found out a lot of youth do not come to church, by holding Mass and then during the St. Joseph's Church Festival, I saw all the kids. I asked them why they didn't attend Mass," said Obinwa.
When the kids claimed that Mass was too long, boring and no fun, Obinwa decided it was time for change.
"I try to come down to their level to make church interesting and allow them to understand the message of God," said Obinwa. I do disagree with the youth in the fact that they come to church and expect to be entertained. Mass is a place to pray and worship, but helping them understand the importance is another story."
After one-on-one with the youth at the religion classes held on Wednesday evenings, Obinwa decided it was time to show the kids the importance by beginning a 'Live Teen Mass' every second Sunday of the Month.
"My daughter Maddy, a sixth grader from Jennings said she enjoys all the children's Masses because he asks all kinds of questions and makes you feel like part of the Mass. As a parent attending many of these same Masses, I see his enthusiasm and his joy in sharing the word of God. He is a blessing to us all," said Jen Neidert.
"I believe it is important to talk to the children, so they can talk to their parents," commented Obinwa. "I was surprised at the number of kids that said their parents have work on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, but that is no excuse. I know the children aren't able to drive, so I told them to call their grandma. You know grandma will be pleased to take you to church."
Aaron Neidert, a freshman at Fort Jennings said, "Fr Charles encourages young people to go to Mass. One night at religion, he talked to us high school kids on reasons to go to church."
At the Jennings boys basketball game held on Friday, Dec. 14, when Obinwa walked into the gymnasium, the students started chanting "That's our Priest."
"When people ask me if I feel that I am making a difference, my answer is yes. I strongly believe people makes me feel like I belong here. God has really blessed my efforts, and the youth have come closer (to God) in Fort. Jennings," said Obinwa.
"I have taught Jr. High religion classes for many years and it is always a challenge to keep the youth interested in wanting to continue to come to church. Fr. Charles has sparked a new interest with the youth and has gotten them coming back. It is a great thing when you see that happening in your parish," said Penney Gerdeman.
"I am really proud of the youth. You can tell that not only are the kids coming back to church, they are showing the importance, and bringing their parents. The grandparents are becoming happy to see their families come back to church too," said Obinwa.