BISHOP MARK UNEGBU’S OWN ACCOUNT
“The expulsion of missionaries from Biafra was another inhuman act, which we never thought of nor imagined. Isolated in a parish in the Okigwe section of Umuahia diocese where I had taken refuge, one of the Irish priests working with us one day came to me. He then told me that all the foreign missionaries were all wanted to report at Port Hacourt, but for what reason he couldn’t tell.
He seemed to have a hint of their eventual expulsion. Then he said: “I hope we shall be released and come back”, the idea of expulsion never occured to me. So I said: “it is only a routine check that the army is exercising, you will soon be released. Do not be afraid “. But I saw he wasn’t as confident as myself. But what surprised me was how the enemy forces had a list of those foreign priests and Rev. Sisters working with us and were able to round them up in their respective locations within a few days. It was the last young priest till this very day.
Because of the Isolation in which we were kept, most of us did not know what was happening to our foreign confreres. It was only after days or weeks they left Port Harcourt that the news of their expulsion reached us. Such was the dark environment in which we were kept.
We regarded the expulsion as a temporary measure, to be reversed as sanity returns to the country. Far did we know that it was a planned and premeditated act by anti-Catholic and anti-Christian forces working against the Church, particularly in Biafra. That was on the futile assumption that with the exit of Catholic missionaries from the country, the Church was doomed to gradual extinction. Poor human thinking and miscalculation! The missionaries were gone, not in shame but in triumph.”
Culled from: My Life: Authobiography of Most Rev. Mark Unegbu, Bishop Emeritus of Owerri, pages 98-99.
February 18, 2022 will be exactly 52 years since their expulsion. Remember to pray for them on that day.
Rev Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu