By Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, CSN
Upon departing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he had gone to welcome Pope Francis, representing the Bishops of the West African Region under the aegis of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA), the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, moved on to Lome in Togo where he celebrated the Holy Mass for the teeming English – speaking Catholics at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
The prelate, exceedingly elated by the large turn out and the deep devotion by the congregation who were mostly from Nigeria, during the Sunday Mass on February 5, 2023 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Lome, commended them for taking their Catholic faith with them and practicing it.
Bishop Kukah exhorted the vibrant worshippers to remember that they are migrants and to be law abiding, noting that being a migrant should not stop them from fulfilling God’s purpose for them in life. He cited the instance that for Pope Francis, being an Italian migrant in Argentina did not stop him from achieving God’s purpose for him in life.
Moreover, the shepherd noted the enormous contributions that migrants like St. Paul made to the spread of the Christian faith through their movement from one place to the other, sowing and exposing the faith to many cultures. “I want to assure you that the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria are very happy with you and appreciate the work you are doing here as pastoral agents. Please continue to keep the flame of faith alive and help one another to stand firm in faith and grow.”
In an interview with the National Social Communications office at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Bishop Kukah summed up his encounter with the English-speaking Catholics in Lome as “very enriching and spiritually fulfilling.” He congratulated the Chaplain, Fr. Clifford Ogbenna, for the great pastoral work he was doing among the people.
Bishop Kukah later joined the President of CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, for the Standing Committee meeting of RECOWA Bishops where he is scheduled to speak on the topic: Pastoral Implications of Terrorism on the RECOWA Sub-Region.