“Even when the attack was going on, some saw them, but they could not identify them as they didn’t speak,” he says, and adds, “Some of the attackers disguised themselves as regular parishioners during Mass. They worshiped with us during Mass until the attack started.”
Regarding what the Diocese of Ondo is doing to help the wounded and grieving parishioner, the Nigerian Catholic Priest explains, “We have started doing that already, giving them pastoral care, visiting them, praying with them, administering the Sacrament of the Sick and encouraging them to keep hope alive.”
“We went further to care for their families and the bereaved,” Fr. Abayomi is quoted as saying, and continues, “The diocese called on other parishes for support. Government as well as non-governmental organizations, like the Red Cross, and other groups, even Muslim groups and imams, are coming to our aid practically and financially.”
He recognizes with appreciation the Red Cross that he says “has been the most active, pleading for blood donors and material support” and further says that more aid is needed to attend to the wounded and grieving families.
“We need material and financial support to care for the victims and the survivors. We also need our own security strategy,” Fr. Abayomi says.
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The Nigerian Catholic regrets the fact that on the fateful day, “nearby security personnel and police failed to come to our rescue, even though the attack lasted 20 minutes and four artifacts exploded. We need our own security apparatus.”
Following the attack, he notes with concern, “fear has set in the minds of some of the parishioners.”
Bearing in mind the real fear among parishioners following the attack, the Priest says, “we are determined to get them on their feet, to keep them strong in faith, and to comfort them by getting close to each one, not only those who were directly affected.”
Fr. Abayomi further says in reference to the fearful parishioners, “The goal is to establish personal contact with them, strengthening them and reminding them that when we profess our faith in God, it means that we have given up our whole life. This life is just a passage to eternity — and eternity should be our focal point.”
The faith of parishioners is very much alive and strong despite the attack, Fr. Abayomi is also quoted as saying, adding, “From my encounter with parishioners, I have not seen a loss of faith, but a strengthening.”
“They are ready and willing to remain steadfast,” he says in reference to parishioners, and adds, “I keep praying for them, every day, and Mass is being offered for the intentions of those still in the hospital, to aid their quick recovery.”
“Mass is also being said for the souls of those who died, may they rest in peace,” Fr. Abayomi told ACN International, adding, “Finally, Masses are being offered for the intentions of all members of the parish, so that they may remain steadfast in faith and alive in hope.”
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.