Rev. Fr. Thomas Nwachukwu had barely spent a few days  after he returned from an unpopular visit to a pentiscostal pastor in Ghana, when he was hit with a stroke. 

Nwachukwu, a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, North-West Nigeria, had embarked on the spiritual journey to Ghana, where he reportedly pledged loyalty to the pastor without either the knowledge or blessing of the Most Revd. Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese.

But after seven years of the infamous visit and several months of battle with the dreaded stroke, Rev. Father Nwachukwu, who has shown much remorse for his action, is now back at the mother church after he was granted pardon by the bishop.

In a post on the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto Facebook page on Wednesday, Bishop Kukah described Nwachukwu as a prodigal son who found it necessary to return home after realizing his mistakes.

He said: “In 2017, a video made the rounds depicting Fr. Thomas Nwachukwu, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sokoto, on a visit to a Pentecostal Church presided over by one Pastor Obinim in Accra, Ghana. In the video, the priest was seen pleading with the said pastor and asking for his blessings.

In that video, Fr Nwachukwu came forward, knelt down, and had what was said to be anointing oil poured over his head. He then went further to pledge loyalty to the pastor and then came back to his parish in Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State. In all of this, Fr Nwachukwu neither sought permission from me, his Bishop nor did his parishioners know about his trips.

After his return from Ghana, Fr Nwachukwu suffered a stroke and was admitted into a hospital in Gusau, Zamfara State. After about two weeks, he discharged himself on the grounds that he wanted to return to his home in Mbaise, Imo State, where he said he would continue his treatment. In all these seven years, our Diocese has been in constant contact with Fr Nwachukwu, making sure that his needs were met.

We continued to monitor his state of health and spiritual disposition. On the phone and during my visits to him in Mbaise, he showed much remorse, saying he really had no idea what got over him. After it became clear that his health had improved substantially, he applied to be admitted back into the presbyterate of the Diocese of Sokoto. After a prayerful and careful reflection on his case with my College of Consultors and upon the recommendation of the Committee set up to examine it more attentively, we decided to give Fr Thomas a second chance by accepting his appeal. Still in keeping with the recommendation of the Committee, we sent him to the Benedictine Monastery, Ewu, Edo State for a one-month retreat. At the end of his time, the Monastery wrote a good report to us.

Thus, on Tuesday, during the Mass of the Chrism which celebrates our Priesthood, we gave him an opportunity to offer his unreserved apology to the holy Father, Pope Francis through me, his bishop, the priests, religious and the laity of the Diocese of Sokoto. We are thankful to God for the return of the prodigal son and believe that he has learnt his lessons. He has presently been admitted back into the presbyterate where the healing process will continue.

Please continue to pray for our brother, Fr Thomas, and for us in the Diocese of Sokoto. May our Blessed Mother, the Mother of all priests, intercede for him and for all of us in the vineyard of the Lord in Sokoto.”



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