UPDATE Dec. 21, 2022: Interview with Father Samuel Maria on the Nigerian Mission with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Dear Father Abah Samuel Maria, you are leading a Faithful Catholic order in a nation undergoing immense persecution from non-Christians, could you please explain some of what is going on in particular near you in Nigeria?
Answer: Some of the persecutions faced by Christians in this part of the world are kidnapping and killing (genocidal) of Christians and discrimination (regarding us as infidels), burning and bombing of Churches by suicide bombers, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen with their ISIS connection, trying to Islamize the country .
What is life like for the average Traditional Catholic living in Nigeria and how are you dealing with this persecution?
Answer: The modernists are liberal Catholics and the only response for us is to stick to the Faith and Morals of our fore-fathers in the Church while praying earnestly for their conversion and enlightenment certainly surviving by the Truth and forming Remnant groups.
What are some of the most rewarding moments at the mission?
Answer: A lot of conversion in a short period of three years of starting the Apostolate. Many have come to know the Truth and are fighting for the true Faith which is Tradition.
Could you describe your Nigerian Mission and what its expanse is? For instance, Is it just one community with a parish Church and the convent of nuns?
Answer: It is a large community with Convents (2) with 19 sisters total thus far and a Seminary. Spreading as far as Lagos, Abuja, Otukpo, Gboko, Gbem, Koti-yor, Zaki Biam, Oju, Asu-kunya, Wanunne, Achigbe, Vandeikya, Makurdi, Adikpo, Nsukka, Ogbadibo, Koti.
Would you say the number of Catholics is very small in comparison to the number of Muslims in Nigeria?
Answer: Not quite. About 12% of the population are Catholics as against 50% of Muslims. Though the new Mass and new age Churches have taken over the environment.
In America, we have been fighting the persecution of Catholics who refused to take the vaccine because of its connection to the evils of abortion. Many families lost their jobs and others had successfully obtained a letter from their Pastor for a religious exemption from the vaccine. Have you experienced any of this in Nigeria? Were there any lockdowns or forced mandates for taking the vaccine?
Answer: Yes, there was lockdown of Churches and members were asked to stay at home and pray. Communion in the hand was imposed later on. The vaccine is being forced on people mostly the health workers. People are being asked to take the vaccine lest they will not transact and travel.
You spoke of the Sisters running an orphanage, has this been set up yet or at what stage are you in this important project?
Answer: It has not been set up because of financial set back. All administrative plans are being put in place.
Are there lots of orphans in Nigeria and what do you think is the cause of it?
Answer: There are lots of orphans here and this is caused by sudden demise of young parents. Some kids are just abandoned by their parents mostly teenagers and single parents who cannot care for them.
Why do the sisters want to run an orphanage?
Answer: To help these children grow in love and make them great contributors to the growth of the society. To give them a home and the parents they never had and of course Sanctifying Grace.
In your missionary work have you experienced that Nigerian Catholics are drawn to the Traditional Latin Mass and why?
Answer: Yes, they have and it’s because they have come to discover the Truth about their salvation and knowing fully well that Tradition is the answer amidst the sacrilegious and abomination of desolation currently taking place in the Church today.
Archbishop Lefebvre was a missionary to Africans in Gabon correct? Has his work there had any influence to souls in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, his work has had great influence in the souls of the faithful in Nigeria. When the SSPX were invited by the faithful around twenty-five years ago, they brought more knowledge of his teaching about Tradition, and the Holy Mass of the Ages and the never-ending truthful teaching of the Apostles.
In what other ways would you say you are being persecuted? For instance, many Faithful Catholics that love the Traditional Latin Mass are being thrown out of the Churches in America and around the world after the destructive Papal document Traditiones Custodes?
Answer: We, the Traditional Latin Mass families in Nigeria were rejected by most bishops even before the papal document. The document has however intensified the persecution as most Traditionalists are seen as Schismatics and Apostates.
How would you describe you and your fellow priests getting around to each of your 12 missions? Do you walk to them for example?
Answer: The missions are increasing and we have an axile formation of the missions with the Otukpo axies, Gboko axies and Vandeikya axies. I am currently the Coordinator. We mostly travel on motorcycle to get to members and sometimes use cars because they are very distant from each other.
What are some of the worst hardships you have had to face at the mission?
Answer: Access to the missions is difficult because of bad and dusty roads and our vehicles are always worn out. We at most times have shortage of basic amenities, money and of course the constant persecution from modernists calling us “holier than thou” and crazy people.
Dear Father, after you came to Tradition and desired only to offer the Traditional Latin Mass, were things easier or harder for you and in what ways would you describe your priesthood now compared to back then?
Answer: Giving thanks to Divine Providence, things have been quite easy and beautiful compared to back then, having it in mind that whatever I suffer is for the Salvation of souls and for the reign of the Sacred Heart and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mean while, some days I am totally broke but I live in the present. I have no insurance and no good vehicle to carryout my mission.
What is something that you struggle with in Nigeria that other Catholics around the world are not struggling with?
Answer: I believe we all have common problems but the level of knowledge seems different as people don’t seem to understand the nature of the crisis, they are mostly poor and unwilling to make sacrifices amidst a very authoritative hierarchy.
Could you please describe the Nigerian culture?
Answer: It is multilingual and diversified way of life that is hospitable and accommodates anything that has positive impact on the people in respect to the versatility of the cultures. Nigerians are happy people.
Could you describe a typical day in the life of the sisters?
Answer: The Nuns wake up at 5:00am though those in charge of the kitchen wake at 4:00am. The sisters are missionary nuns. Their busy schedule permits them to say Prime, Sext, and Compline with light out at 10:00pm. Solemn Lauds and Vespers are said on Sundays and Solemnities. They have various activities during the day like classes for learning various things that pertains to their vocation, attending Holy Mass, personal study and spiritual readings, daily Rosary, and visitation to the Blessed Sacrament. The apostolate includes the making of rosaries and scapulars and many other activities that befits the life of a Nun. The sisters have many heavy tasks to do each day, as we have no running water, this makes many tasks very arduous than you would have in the United States and much more strenuous. They are working on setting up an orphanage for the Nigerian children. One thing they want to set up is a piggery to help them sustain themselves.
In regards to feeding the sisters and the rest of the mission how do you acquire food?
Answer: We solicit for support from friends, families and members of the Mission/Chapels. We have little poultry and we farm the land as well.
Do you have running water and electricity or heating or cooling?
Answer: We have a well and water tanks for collecting water. There is electricity and we have fans for cooling which where recently fixed. We have no running water for now. We offer up the heat and the cold as a penance.
How do you get young women to join? Are they coming from your missions or are they flocking to you? Are they all from Nigeria or also other parts of Africa?
Answer: We create awareness wherever we go about the Missions. We have women from the Missions and other parts of the country who have shown interest. We also have women showing interest from other parts of Africa, Uganda to be precise.
Many young women today do not understand about what it is to be a nun and eventually leave or just never consider the vocation, how would you describe the young women coming to the convent there?
Answer: They have zeal for the vocation and are sincerely putting up with every form of hardship to ensure that they live the life and spread the Faith. Those who did not see themselves living the religious life in the convent are given the chance of the Consecrated life (Ladies living in the world) as we successfully received 3 ladies into the life this year. They also wear ring, habit and veil.
What are some of the hardest things the sisters are enduring right now?
Answer: Sustainability, there is not enough to sustain them throughout the month, no standard Chapel and cells, they do not have enough books for their studies.
I understand that you are helping the nuns build a piggery using some of the funds you have received, could you describe what this entails?
Answer: The intention of the piggery farm is to have an investment which can sustain the Convent in the nearest future. We are in the first stage of it as the land is cleared and dug but we need to get the materials to begin earnestly.
Father what would you like to tell readers who are seeing this fundraiser?
Answer: I would like everyone seeing this fundraiser to know that the faith is spreading very fast and people are beginning to know the truth, especially in Nigeria and Africa at large. Your support will be greatly appreciated for the fast growth and development of these places. A very big thanks to all of our benefactors in helping us save Nigerian souls with the help of God. Viva Christo Rey! Viva Immaculata Maria. Aluta Continua Victoris Ascerta. As Maiorem Dei Gloriam.