Saint Vincent Pallotti and the Pallottines in Nigeria
In 1998 Fr. Martin Ezeokoli was invited from the Rector of the Pallottine University in Germany to participate in a Symposium about St. Vincent Pallotti, the Apostle of infinite love and mercy. The message of Fr. Martin’s Apostolate in St. Augustine’s Chaplaincy in the Polytechnic in OKO, Anambra / Nigeria had reached the Pallottine World. “Pallotti for Action – Action for Christ”! Since he had met the Pallottine Sisters and the Pallottine Fathers in Rome and experienced the Spirituality of their holy Founder he was full of enthusiasm and zeal to bring this missionary community to Nigeria.
In June 2001 the former Provincial Fr. Norbert Hannappel SAC wanted to visit together with the Delegate Superior of Cameroon Fr. Joseph Boeckenhoff SAC the Pallotti Groups in OKO. As Fr. J. Boeckenhoff SAC was not feeling well – he even died some weeks later – he asked Fr Peter Hillen SAC the Rector of the Seminary in South Africa to replace him. It was such a tremendous welcoming and celebration of faith and love in OKO that the Provincial decided to take students from Nigeria for formation to SA. It was in February 2002 that the first two students from Nigeria in the persons of John Ndidi Nwaocha and Henry Ezenwa arrived Merrivale in SA to start their Postulancy under the guiding hand of Fr. Florent Eloundou SAC. From then on Fr. Peter Hillen SAC went each year to Polytechnic OKO to conduct interviews for the new students who had applied to the Pallottine Community with Fr Martin Ezeokoli. “. It was made clear that taking students from Nigeria for formation in SA one day the Pallottines would open a formation house in their home country. Again through the love and care for Saint Vincent Pallotti, Fr. Martin arranged the coming of Fr. Peter Hillen SAC in January 2007 as first Pallottine to the Diocese of AWKA. Most Rev. Bishop Simon Okafor welcomed Fr. Peter and Pallottine Community in his diocese. To God be the Glory!
After six weeks in the Chaplaincy in OKO together with Fr. Anthony Ezeoke, Fr. Peter Hillen SAC was posted to be the vicar in Holy Trinity Parish in Nanka under the dynamic and able Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Felix Efobi. The people were curious to see the man with the strange name in their parish. But the hospitality of the people and the openness of the Father Onye Ocha let the current flow. Fr. Peter walked around to discover the environment; he started to read the gospel in Igbo and soon to celebrate masses in the outstations. He saw the need of the people and initiated some projects to empower the youth, the women and the children, such as a vocational center, an oil mil, water tanks, school equipment etc. He was well known and loved in Nanka and when he left after 15 months to open a formation house in Mbaukwu the CWO Nanka conferred him the title ICHIE OZI OMA and kept always a filial relationship to him. In 2002 already Fr. Peter received in OKO the title “OKAOME I” and in 2012 in Uke the title ICHIE OZI OMA.
Fr. Peter was looking for a place to have a possibility to open a Postulancy. A former Pre-science student brought him to Mbaukwu. After inspecting some houses they came to His Royal Highness Igwe P. Anugwu where he was heartily welcomed. But to proof the authenticity of his being a religious in the Diocese Igwe asked him to go and see the then Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Peter Eche. He showed Fr Peter Hillen SAC the building site of a hostel to be built by the CWO from St. Dominic Mbaukwu. Fr Peter was interested and invested in the finishing of the building so that he had the rent of the house for four years. In Mai 2008 the house was blessed and used as a seminary school. From then on Mbaukwu has a place in the Pallottine History. Meanwhile Igwe Mbaukwu and Fr. Peter Eche were busy to find land for a permanent side for the Pallottines. In 2009 the Mbaukwu community donated 30 plots of land to the Pallottines. To God be the Glory! Thanks to the entire Mbaukwu community.
Fr. Peter Hillen SAC immediately started to find the means to build their own Postulancy. Within a short time through the help of a caterpillar and the work of some strong youth from Mbaukwu the forest was transformed in what it is today – a beautiful place of recreation and worship. But he also to realize a number of projects for the community in Mbaukwu (9 bore holes with overhead tank, an oil mile, materials for the nursery and primary school, a vocational center for the youth, 6 houses for poor people, the traditional Pallotti Football Cup, etc.) In 2010 the foundation stone for the new Postulancy was laid by the then Vice General Superior Rev. Fr. Hannas SAC. The House was blessed in 2012 by the than Chancellor of Awka Diocese and now Bishop of Ahiara Diocese Most Rev. Bishop Peter Okpaleke. The master-plan form 2009 for the land included a retreat house and a Grotto of Divine Mercy. The Foundation stone for the retreat house was laid by the than dean of Amowbia Deanery and the now Auxiliary Bishop of Awka diocese Most Rev. Bishop Jonas Benson Okoye whereas the foundation stone for the Divine Mercy Grotto was laid by faith and trust in the divine providence on the eve of the Divine Mercy Sunday 2014 by Fr Peter Hillen SAC. God will provide! Yes, the Lord is good. By chance or divine providence the former Governor His Excellency Chief Peter OBI, inspired by Igwe Mbaukwu planned to build a road from Mbaukwu to Awgbu. This road passed close to our compound and with the help of the former Commissioner of work Chief Calixtus …. the government connected us to the new road.
Through a student and the Divine Providence we got in contact with Prof. Dr. Maurice Iwu who, hearing about our Divine Mercy Project spontaneously said that this was his own project. To God be the Glory! Prof Iwu invested 3.7 Million, and with the help of the diocese of Trier and ‘Kirche in Not’, Koenigstein we have the beautiful Grotto of Divine Mercy and all the facilities around it to be a part of the Spiritual Center of the Pallottines in Mbaukwu. With the proclamation of Pope Francis that the year 2016 will be a Holy Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church all-over the world we hope that the Divine Mercy Grotto will be a part of the celebration and reconciliation of the Holy Year for Mbaukwu, the Diocese of Awka and the Pallottine community and all the members of the UNION OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE (UAC) in Nigeria. To God be the glory!
We give heartfelt thanks to God the Almighty for His protecting and guiding hand over all our projects and development. We say a great THANK YOU to our Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor, who always supported us in our plans and demands. Thanks a lot to our Provincial in Germany Rev. Fr. Helmut Scharler SAC who always believed in us and supported us. He is here worthily represented by the Secretary of Mission Br. Bert Meyer SAC. We acknowledge our former Regional Superior and now Bishop Bruno Ateba SAC and our actual Regional Superior Rev Fr. Jules Nkodo SAC. Thanks to all the Confreres here in Nigeria and the members of the UAC that supported us in our struggle and efforts to establish the Pallottine Community in Nigeria. God bless all of you in Jesus Name!
We thank all the Parish Priests and their vicars of Saint Dominic Mbaukwu who welcomed us and engaged us in the pastoral work of the parish; thanks to the entire clergy of Awka diocese. Thanks a lot to the former Governor His Excellency Chief Mr. Peter Obi for the road and a bus for our students in Owerri. A special thanks to the Executive Governor His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano and the commissioners, who donated a bus and installed the transformer. We are very, very grateful to Igwe P. Anugwu, who showed his concern and help us in so many occasions, who donated the land, the transformer and in January 2015 a land to build a stadium. Thanks you and God bless you. Thanks to the entire community of Mbaukwu, to the parishioners of Saint Dominic Parish, the CMO, the CWO, the CYON and other societies and all the people of good will who assisted us during the last years. Continue the good work through your faithfulness.
Thanks to the architect, the engineers, the workers and helpers. All went well.
May God bless all of you abundantly and give you health, prosperity and future. To GOD be the Glory now and forever.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT for your assistance.
The Pallottine Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Germany/Austria
The Pallottine Province of Nicolas de Flue Switzerland
The Pallottine Province of Mater Dei Milwaukee/America
The Diocese of Cologne in Germany
“Kirche in Not” Koenigstein in Germany
The Diocese of Trier in Germany
The Diocese of Freiburg in Germany
The Diocese of Stuttgart-Rottenburg in Germany
The Diocese of Limburg in Germany
“Gerechtigkeit den Menschen” e.V. Germany
„Aktion Hoffnung“ in Augsburg – Germany
His Excellency Chief Dr. WillIie Obiano, Executive Governor, Anambra State,
His Excellency Chief Peter Obi Former Governor, Anambra State,
His Royal Highness Igwe P. Anugwu Mbaukwu, Prof. Dr. Maurice IWU, Hon. Engr. Ikeobi Ejiofor,
Chief B.M.C. Obi (Owelle) Mbaukwu, Chief Sir C.J. Asiegbu (KSM) Uke,
Chief Sir Dr. G. Ogalanya, Prince IFEANYI Anugwu, Hon. & Mrs Ugoh King David Chudwudi, Chief Sir & Dr. Mrs. Joe ONYALI, Chief Sir Nicholas Omife, Lady Ngozi Vivian Anizoba JP, LKSJI, UAC, and Husband Sir Anizioba.
Ichie Uchenna F. Nwokoye, Engr. & Mrs. Felix M.O. Nnanor, Rtd Col (Sir) Josaphat Ogor, Catechist Donatus Ezeudu, Catechist Innocent Okeke, Mr. Amaonwu Clement, Sir Victor Nnaji, Mr. Izuchukwu Uchendu, Mrs. Margret Okafor, Mrs. Agnes Onyedibe,
CMO, CWO, CYON, UAC, SACRED HEART, Saint Dominic and Saint Theresa Mbaukwu, Holy Trinity Nanka, Madonna Assumta Catholic Church Agulu,
Umeoguego Chukwunoye, Chukwuma Ezekwile, Azubike Eze, Frank Ekpeha
Charles Okpala, Mrs. Ezeaso, Samuel Oguego, Mrs. Onyali Justina, Eze Philip
Ikenna Umeoguego, Ichie Albert Nwohike, Ogbonna Ezenwa, Angel Computers,
Enemuo Evaristus, Uchenna Umeanaeto
Edwin A. CHUKWU & SONS,