By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Photographer | Published May 24, 2012
Nearly 300 people from around the country gathered at the Best Western Atlanta Airport East Hotel, Hapeville, April 27 to 29, for the 10th annual Igbo Catholic Community USA Convention.
This year’s theme considered Igbo Catholics’ spirituality, and it specifically focused on “First Generation Nigerian Igbo Young Adults in America at the Crossroads: Challenges and the Way Forward.” It was phase two of the 2011 convention theme, which also centered on first generation Nigerian Igbo young adult Catholics.
The Igbo people come from the southeastern area of Nigeria, which has historically been predominantly Catholic and Anglican and long ago received the Christian faith from missionaries. Igbo is also the language of the region. In Atlanta, a Nigerian Igbo Catholic community has gathered for Mass and fellowship since the early 1990s. Mass is celebrated on the second Sunday of the month at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Atlanta.
While the business and financial matters of ICCUSA were addressed on the first day of the convention, day two encompassed prayer, talks by various speakers and group breakout sessions.
As the host affiliate president, Dr. Clement Emeka Okpala, of St. Anthony of Padua Church, provided the convention welcome on behalf of the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of Atlanta. Dr. Marcellina Offoha of Raleigh, N.C., ICCUSA’s first woman president, delivered the opening address. Clergy and women religious speaking at the convention included Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu and Father Albert Nzeh of Blessed Sacrament/St. Charles Borromeo Church, Newark, N.J., and Sister Joanna Okereke, a sister of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, who is program specialist for the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Msgr. Nwaorgu, who also serves as the national chaplain for Igbo Catholic Community USA, was the main celebrant of the closing Mass, which was followed by a dinner, cultural presentations and dance sessions.
Igbo Catholic Community USA was formed in 2003 during its first meeting of delegates in Los Angeles. Today the organization has nine membership chapters across the United States. The 2013 ICCUSA convention will take place in Raleigh, N.C.