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Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi. A Website by Blessed Tansi Fraternity International.
Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi Biography
September 1903: A baby boy is born to Tabansi (name meaning “continue to bear evil patiently”) of Igboezunu-Aguleri and his wife Ejikwevi of Nteje. This child was given the name Iwene (in full, Iwemmaduegbunam, meaning “let human malice not kill me”). He has three brothers: Ifekwunigwe (“there is strength in numbers”), Obadiegwu (later baptised as Vincent), Ekemezie (Stephen); and a sister: Obianma.
Small Iwene in 1909 is sent by his parents to the “Christian village” of Aguleri to live in the house of his maternal aunt and uncle (Robert Orekie).
Iwene was baptised on 7th January, 1912 and given the name Michael. He was baptised when he was 9 years old with the Christian name, Michael. His baptism affected him deeply even at such a young age and he shocked his non-Christian parents by daring to destroy his own personal idol, traditionally given to every male child at birth.
HIS EARLY EDUCATION TEACHING
Michael is taken to Onitsha in 1913 to begin his primary education at HolyTrinitySchool. In six years 1919 he obtains First School Leaving Certificate at St. Joseph’s School, Aguleri. This certificate makes him eligible to teach. The following year 1920 he began to teach at Holy Trinity School,Onitsha. And 1924 he return to former school St Joseph’s School Aguleri to become the headmaster.
HIS SEMINARY TRAINING
At the age of 22, after several years of working as catechist and schoolteacher, heentersSt. Paul’s Seminary, Igbariam in 1925. He was the Procurator at the TrainingCollege 1932 before starting his probation at Umulumgbe (Eke) from 1933 to 1934.
He was ordained a priest for the Onitsha diocese in 1937 at the age of 34 by Bishop Charles Heerey in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha. His two other companions were: William Obelagu and Joseph Nwanegbo.
As priest he worked zealously in Eastern Nigeria for 13 years, selflessly serving the religious and material needs of his people. The new priest,Father Michael Tansi first assignment was to Nnewi from 1937 to 1939 as Assistant Priest to Father John Cross Anyogu(later Bishop).He was appointed thefirst Parish Priest of Dunukofia in 1939.While in Dunukofia founded pre-matrimonial women centres of St. Anna (those already married. In 1945 he was transferred to Akpu/Ajalli as Parish Priest and in 1949 he was assigned to his hometown Aguleri as Parish Priest.
Father Tansi travelled on foot to visit his widely scattered parishes, would spend whole days hearing confessions and was always available to the people in their needs, day and night.He was particularly eager to give young people a good preparation for marriage and to counteract the tradition of “trial marriages” which prevailed among the pagans at that time. The large Christian populations of many Igbo villages are a present witness to his zeal.
However, in spite of all he was doing, he felt the call to serve God in a more direct way in a life of contemplation and prayer and, if possible to bring the contemplative monastic life to Nigeria.Father Tansi began he monastic journey with a pilgrimage to Rome. In 1950 his Bishop was able to free him to try his vocation at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Nottingham, England,And on 2nd July 1950 he accompanied by Archbishop Heerey his Archbishop, he arrives at Leicester, in the Cistercian Monastery of Mount St. Bernard, England.In view of founding a contemplative monastery in the diocese of Onitsha. He was an Oblate of the Monastery from 1950 and was received into the Noviciate in 1952.
On 8th July 1953 Father Tansi he took the simple vows. His new name in the monastery was Father Cyprian. The complete change of lifestyle, particularly living under obedience when he had been a leader of people, the change of climate, food and most of all the culture shock were severe tests, but he was convinced that this is where God wanted him to be. On 8th July 1956 he took his monastic solemn vows.
Father Mark Ulogu, another Nigerian (Igbo) priest, joined him a year later. In 1962 Mount Saint Bernard decided to make the foundation in Africa, Father Mark Ulogu became Abbot of the new African foundation at Bamenda but for various reasons it was made in the neighbouring country of Cameroon, near Bamenda, rather than in Nigeria.
HIS SICKNESS AND DEATH
Although he was appointed as Novice Master of the foundation, Father Cyprian was too sick to go.
He dies at the Royal Infirmary of Leicester on 20 January 1964 a few months after the departure of the founders of the new African House. The Requiem Mass and burial of Father Cyprian in the cemetery of the Monastery on 22nd January 1964.
The reputation for holiness that he had left in Nigeria before going to MountSaint Bernard never ceased to grow. After his death, many people claimed to have received favours through his intercession. On the Commemoration of the 10 anniversary Mass of his death at Holy Trinity Cathedral on the 20 January 1974 Archbishop Francis Arinze begins the spade work on the possibility of promoting the cause of Tansi’s beatification. The process for his beatification was opened in the diocese of Nottingham, then transferred in 1986 to the Archdiocese of Onitsha, whose Archbishop was the present Cardinal Francis Arinze. Cardinal Francis Arinze was among the first children baptised by Father Tansi when he was a young parish priest. On 20th January 1986 Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya the new Archbishop of Onitsha inaugurated the Onitsha Archdiocesan Tribunal for the Cause of Fr. Tansi. The request is made for his remains to be brought back to Nigeria. The request was granted and on the 12th September 1986 his remains are exhumed and flown to Nigeria on 19th September 1986. After a solemn concelebrated Mass, his remains are reinterred at the Priests’ cemetery beside Holy Trinity Cathedral Onitsha on 17th October 1986. First major miracle obtained through Fr. Tansi. A girl with advanced stage of cancer is instantly cured. On the 5th May 1990 The final public session of the Onitsha Archdiocesan Tribunal for the Cause of Fr. Tansi after a concelebrated Mass at the Holy Trinity Field, Onitsha.
This followed on 21 May 1990: Archbishop Ezeanya submits the Acts of the Archdiocesan Tribunal for the Cause of Fr. Tansi to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome. This marks the beginning of the beatification process.
On March 22, 1998, at Onitsha, during a trip to Nigeria made for that very purpose, Pope John Paul II beatified Father Cyprian Michael Tansi, proclaiming him to be a model of priestly zeal and prayer.