Atlanta Hosts Igbo Community’s 10th Convention
Published: May 24, 2012
ATLANTA—Nearly 300 people from around the country gathered at the Best Western Atlanta Airport East Hotel, Hapeville, April 27 to 29, for the 10th annual Igbo Catholic Community USA Convention.
This year’s theme considered Igbo Catholics’ spirituality, and it specifically focused on “First Generation Nigerian Igbo Young Adults in America at the Crossroads: Challenges and the Way Forward.” It was phase two of the 2011 convention theme, which also centered on first generation Nigerian Igbo young adult Catholics.
Ugochi Ajoku, 26, left, and Ogechukwu Ogamba, 15, listen and take notes during Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu’s keynote address. The two Nigerian Igbo Catholic women reside in San Jose, Calif., where they attend St. Francis of Assisi Church. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
The Igbo people come from the southeastern area of Nigeria, which has historically been predominantly Catholic and Anglican and long ago received the Christian faith from missionaries. Igbo is also the language of the region. In Atlanta, a Nigerian Igbo Catholic community has gathered for Mass and fellowship since the early 1990s. Mass is celebrated on the second Sunday of the month at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Atlanta.
While the business and financial matters of ICCUSA were addressed on the first day of the convention, day two encompassed prayer, talks by various speakers and group breakout sessions.
Dr. Marcellina Offoha of Raleigh, N.C., ICCUSA’s first woman president, delivers the opening address. Offoha was elected in April 2011 to serve a two-year term.
As the host affiliate president, Dr. Clement Emeka Okpala, of St. Anthony of Padua Church, provided the convention welcome on behalf of the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of Atlanta. Dr. Marcellina Offoha of Raleigh, N.C., ICCUSA’s first woman president, delivered the opening address. Clergy and women religious speaking at the convention included Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu and Father Albert Nzeh of Blessed Sacrament/St. Charles Borromeo Church, Newark, N.J., and Sister Joanna Okereke, a sister of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, who is program specialist for the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Congregation of Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus Sister Joanna Okereke, program specialist for the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gives a presentation where she stressed the importance of family and communication. She also urged practicing love and forgiveness.
Msgr. Nwaorgu, who also serves as the national chaplain for Igbo Catholic Community USA, was the main celebrant of the closing Mass, which was followed by a dinner, cultural presentations and dance sessions.
Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu of Blessed Sacrament/St. Charles Borromeo Church, Newark, N.J., tailored his talk to the Nigerian Igbo young adults in the audience. He compared faith to the likes of a Global Positioning System (GPS) by saying it will recalculate when you make a wrong turn and put you on the right path.
Igbo Catholic Community USA was formed in 2003 during its first meeting of delegates in Los Angeles. Today the organization has nine membership chapters across the United States. The 2013 ICCUSA convention will take place in Raleigh, N.C.
More information can be found on the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of Atlanta at www.niccatlanta.org.