Nigerian military personnel dance as they came for Sunday Mass in a parish of Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri on Aug. 16 after spending a week repelling a series of attempted attacks of Boko Haram on a Catholic community. (Photo: Vatican News)
Nigerian military personnel on the front lines of fighting Jihadist Boko Haram terrorists joined a parish community for Sunday Mass in the Diocese of Maiduguri, reported the Vatican news service.It was an emotional Eucharistic celebration as the Mass turned into a celebration of thanksgiving, the Vatican News said quoting Father Gideon Obasogie of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri.
A sizeable number of Nigerian military personnel attended Mass at Madagali parish community hours after Pope Francis’ Saturday tweets that urged prayers for northeast Nigeria.The Nigerian military personnel came from the front line after spending a week repelling a series of Boko Haram attempted attacks on the Madagali community.
The parish priest Father Innocent Sunu encouraged the military personnel to remain steadfast in protecting the vulnerable community.
He told them that they were not alone. Pope Francis and the entire Church were praying for their safety in their life of constant insecurity, he said.
The priest said the insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the northern regions, resulted from political neglect. Heavy rains washed away some bridges, and Boko Haram destroyed few others. The area was now “comfortably cut off from other towns,” the priest said.
“The weak but faithful Christians here in the north (of Nigeria) have nothing much to say or do other than seek the intercession of our Mother of Hope -as prayed by the Holy Father.
He said the prayer “is the only lifeline left for our people in a country where our political leaders seem to have fallen asleep at the wheel,” lamented the Madagali Parish Priest.
The Madagali community has been vulnerable to the Boko Haram attacks because it is near the infamous Sambisa forest that has become the hiding place of Boko Haram terrorists.
The insurgents have been waging an armed war against the Nigerian State to impose Islamic Caliphate. In the process, Boko Haram has attacked civilians through killings, bombings, forced conscription, and abductions of women and girls.
Boko Haram developed itself as a Jihadist group in 2009 and followed a strict form of Sunni Islam that sees other forms of Islam as infidels and followers of other religions as idolatrous. It seeks the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria.