TWO Brisbane priests are leaving soon for Nigeria to explore the possibility of more priests and seminarians from that country being sent to south-east Queensland.
Holy Spirit Seminary rector Fr Michael McCarthy and Brisbane archdiocese’s Moderator Fr Peter Meneely will travel to Nigeria for discussions with Bishop Lucius Ugorji of Umuahia diocese. They leave on May 21.
Last year two priests and four seminarians from Nigeria came to Australia after an agreement was signed in Brisbane on July 4 between Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane and Bishop Ugorji.
This followed a trip by Frs McCarthy and Meneely to Nigeria in January, 2006, to open discussions with the bishop. The trip was initiated by Archbishop Bathersby.
After this visit, Fr McCarthy expressed amazement and joy at experiencing a “young and growing Church and especially discovering seminaries with over 600 seminarians”.
Fr McCarthy said the purpose of the latest visit was also to “reconnect with the diocese of Umuahia”.
“Fr Peter and myself will convey to the people of Umuahia and the presbyterate, on behalf of the archbishop and the archdiocese, our sincere thanks for the great gift of their priests and seminarians,” he said.
The Nigerian priests ministering in Brisbane archdiocese are Frs Francis Onwunali (Redcliffe) and Gabriel Kalu (Maroochydore).
Nigerian students attending Holy Spirit Seminary are Augustine Obi, John Echewodo, Anthony Ekpo and Edward Agwara.
Fr McCarthy said he and Fr Meneely also hoped to visit the seminaries at Owerri and Umuahia to make contact with seminarians who may be coming to study and work in the archdiocese in the future.
Fr Meneely said the agreement had already provided many benefits for Brisbane archdiocese.
“The young Nigerian seminarians will make wonderful priests for the archdiocese,” he said.