Public Worship Resumes at Nigerian Catholic Parish Attacked Last Pentecost Sunday

Easter Sunday Mass at St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese in Nigeria. Credit: Ondo Diocese

St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese in Nigeria that was attacked on Pentecost Sunday 2022 resulting in the death of at least 50 worshippers reopened for public worship on Easter Sunday, April 9.

The 5 June 2022 attack involved gunmen who reportedly fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives. Several media in Nigeria have reported the incident, some indicating that many children were among the dead.

In his homily during the reopening of the Nigerian Catholic Parish that was closed for a period of 43 weeks to allow for the renovation of the church building and for survivors of the attack to receive treatment, the Local Ordinary of Ondo Diocese emphasized the need to rely on the strength of faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Let our faith that has remained our strength continue to help us to deal with the issues of life and to overcome all that come against us and the Gospel of Christ,” Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade said on Easter Sunday April 9.

Bishop Ayodeji added, “Our Lord, Jesus Christ was sacrificed for us; this morning we are here with mixed feelings. For about ten months, we couldn’t open the church because of attacks that happened in this church on the 5th of June 2022.”


“The attack embarrassed us; how could someone come to church, the church that is the beauty of Owo Town?” he posed, and recalling the events of Pentecost Sunday 2022, continued, “A joy that is the joy of God’s people, why will anyone come here to hurt people?”

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop attributed the attack on the works of evil, saying, “We know the evil ones are always at work.”

He went on to recognize the dozens who “were called to heaven” during the Pentecost Sunday attack, and further said, “We have resumed worship in this church, thanks be to God. l wish to empathize with those who lost their loved ones.

The Local Ordinary of Ondo Diocese sought to relate the painful events of the attack to the Good Friday event, posing, “But how do we explain this in relation to the death of our beloved Jesus Christ? We can explain by our faith also by the joy we bring to our brothers and sisters.”

“We have to call ourselves back to the greater understanding of what is happening in our society today,” he said, and lamented, “I have never seen a nation so comfortable watching the killings of its citizens on a daily basis in hundreds and nothing has been done for the past 15 years.”

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Bishop Ayodeji who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 2010 as Coadjutor Bishop of Ondo Diocese faulted the Muhammadu Buhari-led government for failing to even express an apology to citizens amid multiple attacks. 

“It doesn’t happen in other places. I don't know why the government refused to apologize to the citizens they failed. A government which failed or cannot protect its citizens is not worthy to be called a government,” he said.

The Catholic Church leader continued, “I wish to say this without fear of anyone that the government of this country has failed us and you pressmen should record me very well; they have failed in the area of protecting the lives and properties of the people.”

“Many people have even forgotten what happened in this church ten months ago, because many more have happened without the world paying attention,” he further lamented.

The Bishop who has been at the helm of Ondo Diocese since November 2010 said he found it regrettable that not a single person has been “tried for all the crimes going on in this country”.


“I don’t know if anyone in this church has heard of anyone tried for all the crimes going on in this country, or anyone sentenced for taking the lives of hundreds of people,” he lamented, adding, “It has not always been this way; those behind these should stop; let’s build a good country for ourselves.”

The Catholic Bishop appealed for justice, saying, “The government must wake up and show strength and courage and make sure those who carried out the evil that took place in this church and the evil going around our country are brought to book and punished accordingly.”

“Let’s work together to recognize ourselves as civilized people. Those who can’t survive here are doing great things outside the country,” he said, and added, “We must come together and ward off what has taken hold of our country.”

Bishop Ayodeji further said, “Let’s ask ourselves how we can contribute to peace and live for humanity.”

“Keep praying for those still suffering and in trauma as a result of the attack, stating that the church would continue to comfort those in pain,” the Nigerian Bishop said during the reopening of St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish on Easter Sunday, April 9.

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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.