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Bishop of Mamfe says Fr. Ondari died “doing what he offered his life for”

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Cameroon’s Bishop of Mamfe Diocese, Andrew Nkea, has called for a stop to killings of innocent people in his diocese and in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

Africa Service, Radio Vatican – Vatican City

All fingers point to the government’s security forces.

According to Bishop Nkea, Fr. Cosmas Omboto Ondari, a Mill Hill Kenyan missionary based in Mamfe Diocese was shot in front of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Kembong, Cameroon.

“Eye Witness accounts say that he was killed by Government Soldiers (Gendarmerie Nationale), who were shooting at random from their passing vehicle. A certain Mr Johnson Ndip Nchot was also shot in front of his house, a few meters from the Church building,” said Bishop Nkea.

Bishop Nkea explained that at about 3.00 pm local time, on Wednesday 21 November 2018,  Fr. Cosmas Ondari, a Mill Hill Missionary, who was in front of the Church of the Parish of St. Martin of Tours, Kembong, was shot and killed on the spot in cold blood. Fr. Ondari was the Assistant Parish Priest of the St. Martin of Tours Parish since April 2017. It was to be his first and last appointment.

Bom in Gucha, in Kenya on the 19 September 1985, Fr. Ondari joined the Missionary Society of St. Joseph (Mill Hill) and was ordained on the 26 March 2017 in his home Diocese of Kisii, Kenya.

A priest who was close to the people even in their suffering

“Already in December 2017, when the security situation in Kembong was very tense, Fr. Ondari and his Parish Priest Fr. Tiberius Vouni, MHM, along with some of their parishioners, moved out from Kembong to Mamfe. The village of more than 5000 people was almost completely abandoned, and many houses were burnt down. In April 2018, in a bid to give hope to the desperate population, many of whom were living in the bushes in horrendous conditions, Fr. Ondari and his Parish Priest courageously opted to go back to Kembong so as to encourage the people to return. Some of the people with whom they ran to Mamfe went back and sought refuge in the closed down premises of the Catholic School in Kembong. It was in this context that Fr. Ondari was brutally and recklessly murdered,” narrated Bishop Nkea.

He died doing what he offered his life for

“I visited Kembong Parish on Thursday 22 November 2018, and I personally counted 21 Bullet holes made on the Church building of Kembong where at the time, the priest, the Catechist and many Christians were carrying out various activities in the Mission compound. The blood of the murdered priest was still clearly seen on the cemented entrance to the Church just at the door. He died right in the house of God, and it is our prayer that the God whom he served so well will welcome him into his eternal kingdom. I call on all the Christians of the Diocese of Mamfe, especially the Christians of Kembong Parish, to stay calm and be united in prayer. The forces of evil are on a rampage against the Church of God, but as Christians, we believe in the promise of Christ that the gates of the underworld will never prevail over the Church. While we mourn with the Mill Hill Family and the Natural family of Fr. Ondari, we trust that he died doing what he had offered his life for,” said Bishop Nkea.

The Mill Hill Missionaries corroborated the circumstances leading to the killing of Fr. Ondari saying, “Cosmas was standing outside his Church while meeting (internally displaced persons). At that moment soldiers entered the Church compound at high speed in an army vehicle. As they drove by, they started shooting. At this, the refugees fled into the Church. Cosmas was still outside when he was hit in the thigh and chest. He was taken to a hospital, but on arrival there (was) pronounced dead,” said the Mill Hill Missionaries on their website.

Kenyan family, Church and friends mourn Fr. Ondari

Back in the Kenyan village of Fr. Ondari, Sengera area of Kisii, the Daily Nation of Kenya reports that the news has cast a very sombre mood among family members and relatives of the slain priest saying they received news of his death with absolute shock.

His father Charles Omboto said his son was on a missionary mission when he was killed. Most parishioners described Fr. Ondari as a “very spiritual” and a man fired by the missionary spirit, the Daily Nation reports.

Kisii’s Diocesan Bishop Joseph Mairura said the deceased priest was dedicated to the work of the Church.

“He was a young priest fired with the missionary spirit, but death has snubbed him at a time we knew he had much still left to do in reaching out to lost souls,” Bishop Mairura told the Daily Nation.

The Anglophone crisis

Cameroon, a Central African nation of approximately 24.68 million people, is divided into 10 regions. Eight of these regions have French as their national language, and two have English. The central government of Cameroon is located in the francophone part of the country.

Tensions between the Anglophone regions and the rest of Cameroon have been growing. For years, there have been complaints about the marginalisation of Anglophone areas. The ‘collapse’ of the two-state federation in 1972 is sometimes cited as the origin of the current conflict. Nevertheless, matters came to a head in 2016 when citizens protested the increased number of French-speaking teachers and judges being sent to their areas.

It is said about 400 civilians have died in the last year alone.

United Nations says dialogue the only way forward

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva, this week, that dialogue was the best solution going forward.

“We call on armed secessionists groups to refrain from the use of violence. We urge the Government to respect and protect the rights of all, to address the long-standing grievances of the communities in these regions, including through dialogue, to promptly investigate all cases of violations reportedly involving its security and defence forces, and to hold perpetrators responsible, Shamdasani said.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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