There has been an uproar over the controversial sermon delivered by Bishop Matthew Kukah at the wake keeping of the 18 years old seminarian, Michael Nnadi that was killed by his abductors in Kaduna. We have decided to bring out the full text of this Homily for you to read directly from the source before deciding if the sermon was in anyway controversial or provocative.
The sermon is below:
Homily at the Funeral Mass of Seminarian Michael Nnadi (Sokoto Diocese), on 11th February 2020 at Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese
We have gathered around the remains of Michael in supplication but also as solemn witnesses to the penetrating darkness that hovers over our country. I have the rare honour of being considered the principal mourner in this ugly tragedy. It is not an honour that I am worthy of receiving. The honour belongs to God Almighty who created Michael and marked out this moment and pathway for him. The greater honour goes to his immediate family whose devotion as Catholics laid the foundation for his faith and vocation. To his grandmother, Mrs. Eunice Nwokocha, a most simple, beautiful and devout Catholic woman whose devotion and dedication saw Michael and his siblings, Chukwuebuka, Francis, Augustine and Raphael brought up in all the fine principles and disciplines of the catholic faith
The way that Mama and her grandchildren handled this family tragedy has shown clearly the depth of their faith. I got to know Mama only after the sudden death of her daughter, Caroline, who had been a devoted Lector in our Cathedral. On the day we learnt that Michael and the other Seminarians were kidnapped, breaking the news to Mama and the children was not an easy task. She took the news with equanimity and we focused on praying for their release. She and the grandchildren lived through the torments of the brutal, harsh and senseless haranguing of the kidnappers who are totally empty of any show of human emotions.
When the worst finally happened, breaking the news to her and the grandchildren proved to be one of the most emotionally challenging moments for me. She had called me three days earlier to say that the kidnappers had told her that they had killed Michael I dismissed it by telling her that first, I had discouraged her from taking their calls, and secondly that this was part of the psychological warfare by these evil men. On Wednesday 29th, Peter Paul, the brave young man who had served as the main negotiator with the kidnappers, had already told us that they had gone to the village where the kidnappers said they had dumped the bodies of both Michael and Mrs. Ataga but found no corpses. This was the thread of consolation we held on to as a means of solace that Michael was still alive.
When we concluded the negotiations with the kidnappers on Thursday evening, I was in the Seminary to receive the three Seminarians and, although we received only two, I was still confident that Michael was still alive. We were simply going to sit and wait out for the next call and the agonizing round of negotiations again. I left for Abuja that same evening to continue my trip to Sokoto the next day. It was on my way back to the airport to catch a flight back to Sokoto on that Saturday morning that Fr Daboh called to tell me that the corpse of Mrs. Ataga had been found and that there was a second unidentified corpse which they were being asked to come and identify if it was Michael. My heart sank.
After the call, I switched off my phone in denial, but hoping for some reprieve to enable me board my flight with some sanity. I arrived Sokoto and refused to switch on my phone for some time. When I finally did, I refused to read the text messages, but then, Fr Habila’s call came through at about 1 pm with the news that, sadly, they had identified the corpse as that of Michael. I did not know where to start and how to break the news to Mama. Happily, two of our senior Parishioners, Sir Julius Dike and Mathews Otalike, were on hand and I summoned them to my house. It took us the better part of seven hours to negotiate how to break the news because first, mama was in the market and I felt she should at least finish the day’s business in peace. Finally breaking the news opened a different chapter in this ugly, painful but memorable tragedy. Like the death of Lazarus, it would become clear to me that Michael’s death would bring glory to God.
Later that evening as I sat down to try and console Mama, she looked up at me and said tearfully, “My Lord, you said Michael was still alive. Is he really dead?” Before I could say anything, she provided a moving answer: “My Lord, but Michael entered Seminary with all his heart and body, all”, she said with finality. From that evening, I watched her regain her composure and right up to Saturday, the evening before I left Sokoto, she had become a consoler and an inspiration to others.
The depth and impact of this tragedy belongs first, to the three surviving colleagues of Michael, the entire Seminary community led by the Rector, Fr. Habila Daboh, his team of formators and entire family of Good Shepherd Seminary. All have lived through almost two months of trauma, agony, pain and despair. They have been held together by the glue of deep faith, hope and family solidarity. I commend all the Formators for standing together and guiding the Seminarians through this dark tunnel of emotional pain in the days that turned to weeks, and weeks that turned to months. The entire Catholic community in the Province, led by our Metropolitan, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso, all shared in this burden. His Grace and the Rector will both speak to us at the end of the Mass.
The third layer of pain has been borne by the entire country and the Catholic world. The national and international reactions to the death of this young man have made me step back and ask what message God has for our country. Michael is the first Seminarian to carry the mark of this brutality and wickedness Priests have died in the hands of these wicked human beings. Michael was only a Seminarian in his first year of training. I had seen him in his cassock which he wore in my presence, not with pride but with dignity. Why would the tragic death of a young man such as him elicit such an unprecedented level of emotions here and around the world?
Maria Lozano, a staff of the Aid to the Church In Need, an organisation dedicated to the cause of the persecution of Christians around the world, called me frantically immediately after the news of the kidnapping of the Seminarians went out. The next day, she sent me an emotional voice message to say that she heard that Michael was an orphan and that since the kidnappers will be looking for money might his life be in danger if they realise that he is an orphan? Could she mobilise especially mothers to become parents for him, to keep him and others in their hearts and to continue to pray for him? Maria remained with us emotionally and requested for information about the burial.