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Nigeria: Comforting the afflicted

REPORTAGE - JEUDIComforting the afflicted

The community of St Theresa’s, Madalla, will be forever scarred by the attack during Mass on Christmas morning 2011 when 45 died and 81 were injured.

Nearly 18 months on from the explosion, we visited victims of the atrocity.

Chioma Dike described how she lost her husband, Williams Dike, and three of her children, including four-year-old Emmanuel, whose story you can read at www.acnuk.org/nigeria

Only two of Mrs Dike’s children survived, and both were injured. She herself was unharmed, having stayed at home preparing a Christmas meal for herreportage-jeudi-2-resized.jpg family.

She told me: “I have a broken heart – only God can help me. I will never lose faith in God.”

I told her that ACN benefactors had prayed for her and her family and she said:  “Thank you. Please pray for our protection.”

Bishop Martin Igwe Uzoukwu of Minna told us: “ACN has helped those of us who have suffered so much. I pray that God will reward your generosity.”

• To watch a video of John Pontifex’s interview with Mrs Chioma Dike and Bishop Igwe at St Theresa’s, Madalla visit www.acnuk.org/nigeria

Pioneering women of faith

REPORTAGE - JEUDI 3Full of smiles, they are pioneers going where no woman has gone before.

At a time of social change, the 20 committed Catholics have begun training to become the first female catechists in northern Nigeria.

When they complete their two-year training, they will go out to parishes, holding prayer services and preparing people for the Sacraments.

They will look after mission stations and churches scattered far and wide.

In so doing, they will overturn a tradition whereby the Nigerian catechist, in his high-visibility purple cassock, has always been male.

The women come from all walks of life. One is a grandmother, another has

children now at school and a third has retired after 35 years as a civil servant.

Trainee catechist Margaret said: “As a woman, I feel I can do a lot more for the Church so this is a wonderful opportunity to evangelise, to help people taste God. I want to bring peace to a world that has no peace.”

As well as helping to build the new women catechists’ centre, ACN is sponsoring the women’s formation in moral theology, Scripture and inter-religious dialogue.

This completes our series of articles about the situation prevailing in Nigeria.  We hope these stories have touched your heart and have encouraged you to pray for your Nigerian brothers and sisters living in poverty and persecution.

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