The Ladies’ Auxiliary Knights of St. John International, Nigeria, has condemned what they described as the wanton and senseless shooting at St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Anambra State, which led to the killing of women and children, by some gunmen.
The gunmen had laid siege to the church during an early-morning mass, killing a number of innocent parishioners.
A statement issued on behalf of the group by the National/Supreme Subordinate President, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, noted that “the Catholic Church abhors violence in any form, worse still, in our place of worship that is sacred.”
Speaking further, Onwuliri commiserated with the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hillary Okeke, on the death of some lay faithful in the shooting.
She added that: “As mothers, we are deeply saddened by this ugly development in our place of worship, a place of solemnity, where the lay faithful and, especially women, had gone to seek succour by presenting their families and worries before God, only to meet their untimely death! Our hearts bleed and we are consumed in grief; it is more disheartening that, till now, the perpetrators of this dastardly act have not been apprehended for possible prosecution.”
Onwuliri further called on the police to work harder, with a view to bringing perpetrators of the devilish act to book. She admonished the youths be more prayerful, pursue their careers with fear of God and be more hardworking, while focusing on Christ as their role model. She said the church had many role models for the youths as evident in some of the saints like St. Aloysius Gonzala, St. Agnes and St. John Bosco.
Onwuliri also advised that, given the prevailing challenges of violent acts gradually creeping into places of worship in the country, the lay faithful should be more security-conscious by reporting suspicious characters found within the church premises.
“We urge all Nigerians, especially Catholics, to pray for the repose of the souls of the dead, as we implore the intercession Our Mother Mary, healer of the sick and comforter of the afflicted, in the speedy recovery of those recuperating in the hospitals and consolation for families who are bereaved,” Onwuliri said.
The knights later visited the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese and presented a copy of the press release to the cleric. The Ozobulu church is under the Nnewi Diocese of the Catholic Church.