The second convention of Owerri Archdiocesan Priests resident in the United States of America (OADPUS) has ended in Hartford, Connecticut, July 23-27, 2014. The meeting had about twenty five of the Owerri archdiocesan priests who are either on mission or studies in the U. S.in attendance. It provided the priests an opportunity to meet with each other from across the various dioceses in the U.S. and an auspicious moment with their local ordinary, Most Rev. A.J.V. Obinna, who was also with the group in 2010.
The main agenda included: discussions on improving relationship among themselves, between priests and the Archbishop as well as with their home diocese of Owerri; financial and social security for Owerri archdiocesan Priests at home and abroad; curbing Unorthodox Practices in Liturgy and general life of Priests in the archdiocese. In his address to the group, the coordinator of OADPUS, Fr. Eddie Aku, expressed appreciation to allfor finding timeout of their tight schedule to attend the occasion. He remarked that such portrayed the central theme of the convention, “We are one family”. Fr. Aku emphasized that only such a collaborative approach would ensure the unity of Owerri archdiocesan priests abroad. He was particularly grateful to the archbishop for his fatherly presence which he described as a tonic to the sense of family-hood under one umbrella with him as the chief shepherd. In his reaction, the archbishop appreciated the priests for the sacrifice to converge from distant parts of the US. He encouraged the spirit of oneness which he said has always been his desire for the archdiocese as fostered in the document, Ecclesia in Africa. The Most Rev. Obinna said he basically appreciated the intention to foster the course of goodness and unity with one another both abroad and at home. He stated that his response to the initiative of the group has been evolving with time necessitated by the longer sojourn of priests in the U.S. and their number which is much larger than those in other countries. The situation, he observed, calls for greater reflection. Elaborating on the theme of the convention, “We are one family”, the Owerri metropolitan identified three categories of membership in the U.S. family of Owerri archdiocesan priests: those who are on studies, those who stay on after completing their studies, and those who are on mission. He described the one family as united and divergent at the same time and appreciated the efforts being made to turn this united and divergent family into an effective cohesive one. The challenge therefore is to hone this family into a more comfortable family that will respond to the call of the larger diocesan family, he remarked. In consonance with the earlier expressed desire of the group for a leadership figure backed by the archbishop’s authority, he reconfirmed Fr. Eddie Aku as the coordinator of the group. He would be coordinating the affairs of Owerri archdiocesan priests in U.S. in consultation with the archdiocese, thus facilitating communication between the archbishop and his priests in the U.S. Meanwhile, the group reassured the archbishop of its commitment to the archdiocese. There was overwhelming unanimity behind the question of supporting the archdiocese through Mission Appeals, financial contributions, seeking scholarships and places where priests could minister in the dioceses in the U.S., etc. It should be recalled that the convention was held in the parish of Fr. Emmanuel Ihemedu, ordained for the archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut but who is an indigene of Ejemekwuru parish in Owerri archdiocese.