“Refuse to be crushed by tragedy”: Nigerian Bishop at Funeral of Church Massacre Victims

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo during the Funeral Mass for the victims of the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese in Nigeria. Credit: Courtesy Photo

At the Funeral Mass for the victims of the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese in Nigeria, a Catholic Bishop in the West African country has urged those affected by the June 5 tragedy to stand firm in their faith in the person of Jesus Christ.  

In his homily during the Friday, June 17 Funeral Mass livestreamed on Facebook, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo said the June 5 incident “catapulted the Catholic Church in Owo, the Catholic Diocese of Ondo and Ondo State of Nigeria into the limelight of world attention, unfortunately for the very wrong reasons.”

“Since then, the entire world has condemned the crime perpetrated against humanity and against God in this State,” Bishop Badejo said during the Eucharistic celebration held at the Mydas Event Centre in Owo.

Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop added, “Tragedy and sorrow, small or great, have the capacity to batter and crush us only if we succumb to them.”


“Dear grieving families, friends, the parish of St Francis OWO, all gathered here, I appeal to you to refuse to be crushed by the tragedy which we have before us because of your faith in Christ,” the Local Ordinary of Oyo who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) said.

He continued, “Today difficult though it is, let us choose more to give thanks to God that he gave our departed brethren the life, the faith and the privilege of belonging to him and of returning to him even in this incomprehensible manner.”

Bishop Badejo recalled the events of June 5 saying, “We all gather today in deep sorrow and mourning for this funeral Mass of over 40 of our departed people who were brutally murdered, mindlessly massacred while at worship in St. Francis Catholic Church Owo on Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022 here in Ondo State, the sunshine State.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

“Indeed, if the sun shone on Ondo State at all on that day, it surely did not penetrate the sordid darkness within the hearts of the murderers who visited St. Francis with guns blazing on that Sunday,” he added.

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Bishop Badejo continued, “As our deceased brothers and sisters lay here there are almost 75 others who sustained different degrees of injuries in the same incident.”

“Among the dead is an 85-year-old, Bridget Ozulumba, as well as young people and children like Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Njoku who was 2 and Mathilda Ogungbade who was 3,” he said, adding that “none of the dead or injured did anything wrong except that they came to worship God at the foot of the cross and altar on that day.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

The June 5 attack was unique, the Nigerian Bishop said, and explained, “We have seen tragedies in Nigeria and we have seen brutal murders but few can really compare with the brutality and gruesomeness of the event on that Pentecost Sunday.”

On a visit to the Church with innocent blood still spattered on the floor and walls of the sanctuary, Bishop Badejo recalled, “I could almost hear the victims as they were attacked right inside the Church, cry out like Jesus Christ, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachtani: My God, My God why have you forsaken me’”?


“May that desecration of the sanctuary, the desecration of the body of Christ and that crime against humanity expressed in their lament not go unpunished,” he said, and posed, “On this kind of occasion it is opportune to ask: How many more must die before the senseless killings in Nigeria stop?”

The 60-year-old Nigerian Bishop who has been at the helm of Oyo Diocese since November 2009 regretted the loss the West African nation experienced in the Pentecost Sunday massacre.

Credit: Courtesy Photo

He said, “In these coffins a part of Nigeria lies dead too…Because lying down here with these deceased ones are the joys and hopes and aspirations of their families and loved ones, of the Church of God, of the various communities from where they come and indeed of this country.”

“Even the ones who are maimed and wounded themselves wherever they are, represent Nigeria with all her self-inflicted wounds, bruised, brutalized and violated. So, I ask, for how much longer shall this continue?” Bishop Badejo posed.

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He further posed, “From President Muhammad’s BUHARI, from the federal government the lawmakers, security agencies and all leaders with responsibility for the State at all levels, I ask … How many more must die?”

“To surrender to faith is not to surrender to bestial murder, injustice, discrimination or oppression,” Bishop Badejo noted, and added, “Our Christian faith, strong as it is, is thoroughly tested when we remember that the massacre in OWO is not an isolated case in our country and that we see little on ground to indicate that it might be the last. In fact, we have a long, bloody list, always growing over the last 30 odd years.”

“Even as I speak many Priests and citizens of Nigeria are in the hands of kidnappers,” he told mourners.

The Nigerian Bishop expressed appreciation to the courageous leaders who “are able to raise their voice against the ongoing persecution and injustice in many sectors in Nigeria.”

“Few are those who act up at times like these to stem the surge of violence and bloodshed that threatens to engulf us. We pay tribute to the few leaders around who have showed uncommon courage in denouncing the evil in their areas and taken some action but the general picture is bleak. This murder at OWO shows that far more must be done,” he said.

The Catholic Bishop regretted the fact that “ritual killings, abductions, murders, lynching, kidnappings, armed robbery still increase the bloody tally of innocent deaths and suffering in Nigeria day by day.”

“All this is going on while many of our leaders and people in power do business as usual, feign deaf and dumb or worse still continue with their macabre rallies and dances done merely to grapple for positions and privileges or perhaps even mourn the dead, the dying and suffering,” he bemoaned, adding, “I say God is not served nor amused by this and judgment will one day come.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Bishop Badejo called on President Buhari and other leaders in the Federal Government and State governments “to wake up, sit up and act up to secure life and property all over Nigeria.” 

“I urge leaders at every level to listen to the cry for help of the people they claim to serve, shun discrimination and hypocrisy and do their duty. The present situation must not continue so that people may not resort to self-help and kill this country entirely,” Bishop Badejo says.

To the perpetrators of the Pentecost Sunday massacre and other crimes in Africa’s most populous nation, Bishop Baejo said, “The God of life calls on you to repent. The Church of Christ invites you to a change of heart, to cast away your arms, to repent and embrace peace.”

“Why would you be agents of destruction of life in which you yourself share? Why be an instrument of bloodshed in this beautiful country given to all? Why would you abuse and destroy humanity of which you yourselves are part?” he posed in his homily June 17.

Still addressing himself to those behind the massacre, Bishop Badejo said, “You may make us cry and mourn but we shall never stop inviting you to come share in the love and joy of God who loves you as he loves everyone. Fill your heart with love and cast out hatred.”

“May Mary the Mother of Jesus who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross intercede for as all… Amen May God bless our country, Nigeria. Amen,” Bishop Badejo implored in his June 17 homily.

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.