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How a Nigerian priest used his final moments of life

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Diocèse de Minna

Ricardo Sanches - published on 02/14/23

The crime shocked Nigerians and Christians all over Africa, when bandits attacked a rectory and killed a priest.

It’s been more than two weeks since a crime shocked Christians in Nigeria and around the world: bandits tried to break into the parish house where Father Isaac Achi and another priest, Fr. Collins Omeh, were located. The crime happened in Kafin-Koro, Nigeria.

Reports about exactly what happened vary. According to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the criminals entered the rectory, shot Fr. Achi, and set fire to the house. Fr. Omeh managed to escape, but was wounded in the back by the bandits; Fr. Achi, 61, died either from the bullet wounds or from the flames.

One detail that may have escaped attention is that during the attack, before the criminals gained access to the residence, the two priests had the presence of mind to offer each other the sacrament of Confession.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that this sacrament doesn’t only grant reconciliation with God (its primary purpose), but also grants “peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” The penitent is, in addition, “made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ.” What a perfect cornucopia of graces to receive when facing adversity and danger of imminent death.

ACN quotes the funeral given at Fr. Achi’s funeral:

Fr Isaac believed in Jesus Christ and His Church. It is said that as he faced the agony of death, he asked for the Sacrament of Confession. There is no better way, or better moment, for expressing one’s faith than when one is face to face with death. Anyone who is a believer in Jesus is a winner. To die as a believer in Christ is a happy death, with the rewards of eternity.

According to a tweet by another Nigerian priest, Fr. Ugochukwu Ugwoke, ISch, after receiving the sacrament Fr. Achi asked his colleague to flee the scene.

Violence in Nigeria

After the crime at the parish house in Kafin-Koro, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) said, “Our churches are attacked every day and nothing is being done. May the soul of Fr. Isaac Achi and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in perfect peace. Amen.”

The governor of Niger State, Alhaji Sani Bello Abubakar, said, “This is a sad moment, for a priest to be killed in such a manner means that we are not all safe, these terrorists have lost it, and drastic action is needed to end this ongoing carnage.”

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