Catholic Diocese of Ondo in Nigeria Urges “calm” after Pentecost Sunday Massacre of Dozens

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The leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo in Nigeria is calling for calm following the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish that left at least 50 people killed.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on Sunday, June 5, the Director of Social Communications in Ondo Diocese confirms the reported attack on the Nigerian Catholic Parish and says that the Local Ordinary, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, is calling on the people of God under his pastoral care to “be law abiding”.

The attack involved gunmen who fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives, several media in Nigeria have reported, some indicating that many children were among the dead.

In his June 5 statement, Fr. Augustine Ikwu recounts the Pentecost Sunday, June 5 incident when, he says, “every Catholic is expected to be in Church to commemorate the Solemnity”.

“It is so sad to say that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown Gunmen attacked St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated.”


“The identity of the perpetrators remains unknown while the situation has left the community devastated,” Fr. Ikwu says, adding that “for now, security agencies have been deployed to the community to relatively handle the situation.”

The Nigerian Catholic Priest further says, “All the Priests and Bishop in the Parish are safe and none was kidnapped as the social media has it.” 

He adds in reference to the Priests ministering at St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish, “Let us continue to pray for them and the good people of Owo and the state at large.”

“The Bishop appeals that we remain calm, be law abiding and pray for peace and normalcy to return to our community, state and country,” the Director of Social Communications in Ondo Diocese further says in his June 5 statement shared with ACI Africa.

Fr. Ikwu adds, “At this point in the history of our dear country Nigeria, we need God's ultimate intervention to restore peace and tranquility.”

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“We turn to God to console the families of those whose lives were lost to this distressing incident, and we pray for the departed souls to rest in peace. Amen,” the Catholic Priest implores.

In a press release issued June 5, the Director of the Holy See press says Pope Francis “learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria, and the death of dozens of faithful, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost.”

“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, to send his Spirit to comfort them,” Matteo Bruni adds.

In a statement issued on his behalf on June 5, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly condemned the “heinous” killing of worshipers. 

“The President says only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such a dastardly act, adding that eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter,” the statement says.


The President is quoted as mourning the dead and condoling “with their families, the Catholic Church, and the Government of Ondo State, charging emergency agencies to swing into action, and bring succor to the wounded.”

“No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win,” President Buhari has been quoted as saying.

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.