Kidnapped Nigerian Catholic Priest Freed on Pentecost Sunday After Three Days
The May 26 abduction of Father Matthias Opara was the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted members of the clergy in Africa’s most populous nation.
Father Matthias Opara, a Nigerian Catholic priest who was abducted on May 26 while returning from a funeral, has been released.
The parish priest of Holy Ghost Obosima Catholic Parish of Owerri Archdiocese in Nigeria regained his freedom on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, the chancellor of the Nigerian Metropolitan See, Father Patrick Mbarah, announced in a statement.
“We thank God Almighty for his infinite mercy and for answering our prayers,” said Father Mbarah, who also thanked the people of God for their “fraternal solidarity and prayers.”
“To God be the glory,” Father Mbarah added.
In an earlier statement following the abduction of Father Opara, Father Mbarah said the local ordinary of Owerri, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, had directed him to appeal for prayers for the release of Father Opara, who has been a priest since 1990.
The May 26 abduction of Opara was the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted members of the clergy in Africa’s most populous nation.
On May 19, Father Jude Kingsley Maduka, a Nigerian priest serving in the Okigwe Diocese, was kidnapped and freed after three days of captivity.
Fathers Chochos Kunav and Raphael Ogigba, who had been abducted on April 29 from Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Warri, were released on May 4.
On April 15, Father Michael Ifeanyi Asomugha, the curate of St. Paul’s parish, Osu, in the Okigwe Diocese, was kidnapped and later released.
The West African nation has faced a surge of violence orchestrated by gangs whose members carry out indiscriminate attacks, kidnap for ransom, and, in some cases, commit murder.
Since 2009, Nigeria has experienced an insurgency of Boko Haram, a group that allegedly aims to turn it into an Islamic nation.
This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner. It has been adapted by CNA.