Mission Stories

A challenging Apostolate – Owerri Archdiocese, Nigeria

For more than five years Fr. Moses Chikwe served as the liaison between the Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria and the Diocese of San Diego for Mission Corporation Appeals. In 2015, Fr. Chikwe finally returned to Nigeria after his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles to pilot the mission work as the director of the Archdiocesan education office. On December 12, 2019, Fr. Chikwe was ordained the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese.

Unknown individuals kidnapped Bishop Moses Chikwe and his driver on the evening of December 27, 2020 close to his residence returning from a church function. Though there has been high profile cases of kidnapping for reasons ranging from fight against Western education, intimidation of voices against corrupt leaders to sheer financial extortions in the country, the kidnapping of Bishop Chikwe is the first of its kind in the history of the country. It attests to how desperate and worse the situation has gotten to in recent times. By the special grace of God and the public outcry that followed, Bishop Chikwe was released unharmed four days after his abduction and without any ransom paid.

We are more than ever determined with the help of our benefactors to stand with the poor and to continue our mission to give voice to the voiceless and provide for the downtrodden with our meager resources, shares Fr. Daniel Anyanwu, the new liaison between the Owerri Archdiocese and the Diocese of San Diego.

In previous years the Archdiocese of Owerri has benefited from the generosity of San Diego parishes including St. Columba, San Diego, St. Patrick, Calipatria; and Santa Sophia. Funds were used towards building and equipping primary and secondary schools in our rural parishes, which Bishop Moses was overseeing. Before anybody knew anything about COVID-19, our goal for the “2020 Mission Appeal” was to improve on previous efforts to provide education to kids in rural communities through parochial schools. Parochial schools for us is not a choice, it is the single tool to enable literacy in rural communities irrespective of religious affiliation.  Church buildings and tree shades in parish premises have for long served both as places of worship and as classrooms. Government at all levels has abdicated its responsibility to train and educate its citizens, as public schools are left to deteriorate, and  teachers were not paid for several months. Ironically, government’s impoverishing of the citizens and the concerted effort of the church to provide succor have led to the misconception by some desperate and unemployed youths that the church has money and is often a soft target for attacks and kidnapping. We are grateful for the support and prayers for the release of Bishop Chikwe unharmed.

Owerri Archdiocese was assigned to St. Joseph Church, Holtville, St. Thomas Indian Mission in Fort Yuma and St. Patrick Church, Calipatria in 2019 for Missionary Cooperation Plan. They are assigned to Immaculate Conception Church and Our Lady of Refuge Church, San Diego for Missionary Cooperation Plan 2021.

-Fr. Daniel Anyanwu, Owerri Archdiocese

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