Two Brisbane priests are leaving soon for Nigeria to explore the possibility of more priests and seminarians from that country being sent to south-east Queensland.
Holy Spirit Seminary rector Fr Michael McCarthy and Brisbane archdiocese’s Moderator Fr Peter Meneely will travel to Nigeria for discussions with Bishop Lucius Ugorji of Umuahia diocese. They leave on May 21.
Last year two priests and four seminarians from Nigeria came to Australia after an agreement was signed in Brisbane on July 4 between Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane and Bishop Ugorji.
This followed a trip by Frs McCarthy and Meneely to Nigeria in January, 2006, to open discussions with the bishop. The trip was initiated by Archbishop Bathersby.
After this visit, Fr McCarthy expressed amazement and joy at experiencing a “young and growing Church and especially discovering seminaries with over 600 seminarians”.
Fr McCarthy said the purpose of the latest visit was also to “reconnect with the diocese of Umuahia”.
“Fr Peter and myself will convey to the people of Umuahia and the presbyterate, on behalf of the archbishop and the archdiocese, our sincere thanks for the great gift of their priests and seminarians,” he said.
“We propose to visit the families of the seminarians and priests and again to thank them for the gift of their sons and their sacrifice in not having their sons close to them.
“It is always our families who make great sacrifices especially when their seminarian and priest sons are sent on overseas assignments.”
The Nigerian priests ministering in Brisbane archdiocese are Frs Francis Onwunali (Redcliffe) and Gabriel Kalu (Maroochydore).
Nigerian students attending Holy Spirit Seminary are Augustine Obi, John Echewodo, Anthony Ekpo and Edward Agwara.
Fr McCarthy said he and Fr Meneely also hoped to visit the seminaries at Owerri and Umuahia to make contact with seminarians who may be coming to study and work in the archdiocese in the future.
Fr Meneely said they would be celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi in West Africa.
“We are looking forward to reconnecting with the Catholic Church there,” he said.
“The diocese of Umuahia will be 50 years old this year so it is an opportune time to visit and share in the celebrations.”
Fr Meneely said the agreement had already provided many benefits for Brisbane archdiocese.
“The young Nigerian seminarians will make wonderful priests for the archdiocese,” he said.
“Some will return to Umuahia diocese after they have ministered as priests here for a few years after ordination.
“The archdiocese is delighted that some of the seminarians will stay in Brisbane forever and work side by side with our priests.
“This is the first phase of our program as Bishop Lucius has promised more seminarians and priests to assist us here in Brisbane.”
Released by The Catholic Leader