Thank you, St. Simon Pastor and Parishioners.

I arrived back at St. Simon Church Saturday morning, June 25th, after a month of vacation. Most of the time was spent in my home country, Nigeria. I had not visited Nigeria for two and half years, partly due to Covid-19 Pandemic, so it was enjoyable to be with family and friends. When I was returning, I felt the visit was too short and I desired to have more time. I have two nieces and eight nephews, who were a bundle of joy to be with. They enjoyed my presence too.  I have five sisters and two brothers. My sisters and in-laws took turns cooking our local delicacies for me, and I am grateful to them. I also spent quality time with friends, who updated me on many things that had happened in my absence. It was simply great to be back home.

However, as I had fun at home, the security challenge in Nigeria was also on my mind. Nigeria has faced severe security problems in the last ten years, but the issue has worsened over the last five. There are indiscriminate killings, kidnappings, and the destruction of properties. A general fear of insecurity has enveloped the whole country. People no longer feel safe traveling around the country, especially by road. These crimes are being perpetrated mainly by members of the Fulani tribe. Since Nigeria’s president is a Fulani man, he has primarily looked away while these crimes have gone unabated. Some people have accused him of encouraging what is happening as part of a grand design to ensure that Fulanis, who are primarily Muslim people, take over the country. Most of those in charge of security matters in Nigeria identify as  Muslim and, more so, of the Fulani ethnic group.

On June 5th, while I was home, some Fulani terrorists went to St. Francis Church, Owo, in Ondo State and killed over forty people without provocation. Their only fault on this faithful Sunday, so to say, was that they went to Church to worship God. It was a horrible incident. I am grateful to our pastor Fr. Brendan, and many parishioners who phoned, texted or emailed me to find out about the situation and asked if my family and I were safe. This is the kind of caring community that we are building. Thank you all for the love and concern.

Two days after my return to the parish, my friend Jerome Crowley handed me an article in the National Catholic Register with the heading: We Must Not Forget Nigeria! In the write-up, Michael Warsaw appealed to the whole world not to forget the Christians in Nigeria who are going through persecution. He maintained that the rest of the world has ignored the increasing anti-Christian persecution that has been going on in Nigeria for decades. I ask the ever-good parishioners of St. Simon Church to always remember Nigeria, particularly Christians, in their daily prayers.

Thank you!

Fr. Chris