“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin!”
One year ago the Requiem Mass for Michael Nnadi began with Psalm 50 (51). He had been abducted, along with three other seminarians, from the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, central-northern Nigeria. That was in January 2020, shortly after the seminarians had returned to the seminary after celebrating Christmas with their families. The “revolver men”, as the rector Father Habila Daboh described the armed gang, attacked in the night, breaking down the door of the dormitory and, on hearing the seminary guards arriving, seized the four seminarians as hostages and fled. Three of them were eventually set free, a few weeks later, but Michael was not. His lifeless body was discovered abandoned. So now the fervent prayers of his 268 brother seminarians are rising up to heaven on his behalf. His death was a turning point. Ever since then there has been an atmosphere of insecurity among the seminarians, and many are afraid.
The extensive grounds of the seminary are enclosed by a fence some 2.8 km in length. But it is not difficult to penetrate, and the guards cannot be everywhere at once. And the Good Shepherd seminary is in northern Nigeria, where Christians are a minority and where the threat of Islamist terror lurks everywhere. And then there are the roving gangs of bandits, fired with racist hatred and religious fanaticism, who make the whole area unsafe.
The original intention was to surround the whole complex with a high wall, but the cost was simply too high. Now the bishops have decided to return to the initial plan, as the security of the seminarians and their teachers is at stake. The rector, Father Habila Daboh is also worried that some of the seminarians, who are not yet firm in their trust in God, may be tempted to leave the seminary because of their fears. “We are already making sure that the seminarians actually see the guards at their posts before they retire to sleep”, he explains. This at least helps to reassure them. But a wall would bring long-term peace of mind.
ACN does not routinely provide fences or protective walls, but situations like the one in Kaduna are clearly exceptional. We have promised the €43,000 required to build this almost 3 km long protective wall. Vocations not only need the sunshine of grace and the water of knowledge in order to flourish – but also a sense of security and protection from the storms of fanaticism, especially in their earlier years. For €150 you can give them 10 metres of security wall and so help protect the future of Christianity in Nigeria.