Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu (17.02.2022)
Fr Alban Aguezeala, a priest of Orlu Catholic diocese, narrating his discussion in an Interview with one of the expelled missionaries, Fr Richard Thornton, wrote:
“I actually met one of them a few years ago – Fr. Richard Thornton at Blackrock College Dublin!
Incidentally, Fr. Thornton built and was the First Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary, Umuowa, Orlu. He was also the first Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Parish Umuowa.
During our discussion, he narrated how he was arrested at Umuowa one early morning after Mass by the Nigerian Army! He was not even allowed to enter his room take any of his things. The only thing he was allowed to do was to speak to and hand over the keys of the Frs House to his house boy who later became a Priest – Fr. Hilary Mbachu of Orlu Diocese.
I asked him, what motivated them to stay even when they were granted the grace to leave at initial stages of the war!
He replied, “How can we abandon them at that critical time? How can we? And to whom? No good Shepherd would abandon his sheep when the wolves storm! We stood by them and May be that was why I am still alive today! I am 90 years now and still strong. Maybe that’s why I am still alive”.
I want to assure you Fr. Angelo that till this very moment, those beautiful words of Fr. Thornton continue to influence my life and ministry as a Priest.”
*Fr Alban Aguezeala sent this message in February 2020. The conversation was also shared last year.