Changed by Africa trip - Catholic Courier

Changed by Africa trip

To the editor:

Last month’s account of Sue Versluys’ visit to the Nigerian archdioceses of Abuja and Jos (“Nigeria trip brings fresh perspectives”) brought to mind our own January visit to Nigeria’s Ogoja Diocese. Responding to Bishop Clark’s call to the Church of Rochester to deepen our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Africa and inspired by Fathers Francis Agantem Eworo and Bernard Dan, Nigerian priests on temporary assignment here, we journeyed with them to their homeland. We discovered that while life is hard there, often lacking reliable electricity, water and roadways, the people are energetic, resilient and fun loving. We visited people in their villages, attended a wedding, joined friends in consoling parents whose son had been killed in a bus accident, spent time is schools and attended worship services. We were welcomed with the kola nut ceremony, offered palm wine and fufu, given gifts of yams and plantains.

As the result of this experience, we have established The Rochester/Ogoja Partnership, dedicated to addressing health and education needs. Our visit to Sacred Heart Hospital in Ubudu was shocking — a tumbling down building with unreliable electricity, inadequate water system and poor sanitary conditions. In addition to this special needs project, we are fostering a partnership between Holy Child Secondary School and Mercy High. The community’s generous response has been overwhelming.

We were inspired by the Nigerian people’s deep spirituality and enthusiastic liturgies. As part of World Mission Sunday activities, we encourage readers to join Bishop Clark in the celebration of the third-annual Mass in the African tradition on Sunday, October 12, 1 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Like us, you will be forever changed.

Cathy and Sam Spoto

Lakeview Park

Rochester

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