Published January 10, 2008
Blessed Tansi was born in Aguleri, near Onitsha in Anambra State, Nigeria, in 1903. He became a teacher, then headmaster, before deciding to enter seminary against the wishes of his parents. Ordained in 1937, Father Tansi was a dedicated priest who ministered to the spiritual needs of individuals and groups in the church, including The Mary League and St. Anne Societies.
Father Tansi was drawn to monastic life, and in 1950, he was admitted into Mount St. Bernard Abbey in Leicester, England. There he continued and maintained a total fidelity to his call in solitary, total surrender to God in prayer and penance. He died at the Leicester Royal Infirmary on January 20, 1964, and was buried there in the monk’s cemetery.
In 1979, Cardinal Francis Arinze, then the archbishop of Onitsha, started the preliminary process for his canonization, and a postulator for the cause was appointed.
In 1982, the Father Tansi Solidarity Prayer Movement, a Catholic lay apostolate association, consisting of men and women who identified themselves with the aspirations of the postulation, was founded to help in promoting the cause. In 1986, the archbishop of Onitsha officially opened the process for his canonization.
A tribunal was formally constituted to investigate his life and virtues, and witnesses were called upon to testify. At the request made by the archbishop of Onitsha to the sacred Congregation for the Cause of the Saints in the Vatican, Father Tansi’s remains were exhumed from Mount St. Bernard Abbey and re-interred in the priests cemetery at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, in October 1986. The work of the tribunal was completed in May 1990, and the final document subsequently sent to the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of the Saints.
On March 22, 1998, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Oba airport near Onitsha, setting him on the path to sainthood.
St. Anthony of Padua Church is located at 928 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., SW, Atlanta. For information about the Nigerian-Igbo Catholic Community of Atlanta, call the chairman, Clement Emeka Okpala at (678) 362-6576.