idea of the formation of Nigerian Catholic Community in the United
States of America came as a result of the creation of the African/Caribbean
Apostolate in the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and
Refugees (PCMR) under the auspices of the United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington D.C. in 1996.
The initial idea was proposed by Fr. Aniedi Okure, O.P. who was
appointed as the first Coordinator for the African/Caribbean Apostolate
with Dr. Paul Amuchie appointed as the National Consultant for
the Nigerian Apostolate. Both were charged with organizing and
seeking out African Catholics in the USA. This initial effort
did not yield much fruit, because there were very few organized
African Catholic Communities during this period. However, this
initial effort set the stage for future development.
After the tenure of Fr. Aniedi, Sr. Mary Paul Asoegwu, DDL was
appointed as the next Coordinator. Working with the National Consultant,
Paul Amuchie, she started an aggressive campaign to reach out
to African Catholics in the USA in general and the Nigerian Catholics
in particular. She saw the need to organize Nigerian Catholics
on the same model of other ethnic communities in the USCCB such
as the Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. so that their voices
can be heard in matters concerning their faith in the church.
The opportunity in this endeavor presented itself with the Ten
Year Anniversary Celebration of the Igbo Catholic Community in
the Los Angeles Archdiocese which had also invited Francis Cardinal
Arinze, the then Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worships
and Discipline of Sacraments in the Vatican as their Chief Celebrant
in July 2003.
Both Sr. Mary Paul and Dr. Amuchie started diligently to use Cardinal
Arinze's visit to Los Angeles as a forum to invite all various
organized Nigerian Catholic groups to meet in Los Angeles. There
were strong outreach efforts to invite as many groups as possible
including the clergy and the religious. In order to ensure the
success of this meeting and in order to encourage good attendance,
Sr. Mary Paul , through her office , sponsored all the delegates
who committed to attend by paying for their air fares and hotel
accommodation. Each invited group was requested to send two official
delegates. The meeting lasted from July 18 to July 20, 2003.
The first meeting of the delegates was held on Friday, July 18,
2003 at the residence of Mr. Anthony and Mrs. Imma Ikebudu in
the city of Carson, California, County of Los Angeles. Mr. Ikebudu
at that time was and still is the President of the Igbo Catholic
Community of Los Angeles. The following chapters were represented:
Igbo Catholic Community, Baltimore, MD; Igbo Catholic Community,
Houston, TX; Igbo Catholic Community, Los Angeles, CA; Igbo Catholic
Community, Queens, NY; Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community, San Bernardino,
CA; Nigeria Catholic Community, Washington, D.C. The delegates
showed a lot of enthusiasm and interest during the meeting. Sr.
Mary Paul and Amuchie moderated the meeting. The delegates were
requested to give an overview of their different chapters in the
areas of structure, policy, demographics, personnel, activities
and language. Mr. Malachy Okoro (San Francisco) and Mr. Victor
Ume-ukeje (San Francisco) volunteered to serve as recorders.
The next day's meeting on Saturday July 19, 2003 was held at St.
Cecilia Catholic Church center of worship for the Igbo Catholic
Community, Los Angeles. The second day meeting dwelt mainly on
the formation, membership and structure of the proposed organization.
After several debates on these areas, there was a consensus among
the participants that the need to form a national Catholic organization
was imperative. Most contentious argument was on the name of the
organization. Majority of the attendants voted to name the organization
Igbo Catholic Communities, USA (ICCUSA) with the understanding
to form a Nigerian National Catholic Organization when the other
Nigerian ethnic communities in the diaspora form their own communities.
There was, however, an objection to this decision by the Nigerian
Catholic Community, Washington, D.C. delegates. At the end of
the second day meeting, a Steering Committee consisting of Anthony
Ikebudu (L.A.), Chief Goddy Ogor (Houston), Nze Malachy Okolo (Queens, NY),
Fred Olawoye (Washington, D.C.), Rev. Fr. Clifford Aniefuna (Washington,
D.C.), Sonny Offorjebe (San Francisco), and Aloy Ibe (Baltimore)
was appointed with Dr. Amuchie and Sr. Mary Paul as consultants.
The committee was charged with working on the structure and guidelines
for the formation of the organization. It could be said here that
the first ICCUSA Convention was held in Los Angeles. Houston delegates
volunteered to host the next convention of 2004.
The meeting on the third day of Sunday, July 20, 2003 was with
His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze at the headquarters of the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He addressed the delegates and expressed
his delight about the decision to form a national organization
and stressed the importance of including our language and culture
in our liturgy. It is important to note here that the name of the organization
changed from Igbo Catholic Communities, USA to Igbo Catholic Community,
USA at the 2008 Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD. There is no
formalized method of selecting convention venues. Chapters volunteer
through their delegates to host conventions.
Prior to the election of the National Executive Council (NEC)
at the 2007 Convention in Houston there were no elected officers
for the organization. Convention hosting chapters were required
to provide convention chairperson, secretary and publicity secretary
for each convention. Annual conventions have been held by the
following chapters in the following years: Houston (2004, 2007),
Washington, D.C. (2005), San Francisco/San Jose (2006), Baltimore,
MD (2008) and Philadelphia (2009). These conventions have been
coordinated and supported financially by the PCMR under the able
leadership of Sr.Mary Francis Amanfo, DDL (2005) and the current
Ethnic Program Coordinator, Sr. Joanna Okereke, HHJC (2006 thru present)
who has contributed so much to the growth and development of ICCUSA.
PCMR is now restructured as a Sub-committee on Pastoral Care
of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT) within the Secretariat
of Cultural Diversity in the Church (ACDC).
The ICCUSA currently has sixteen membership chapters namely: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston,
Brooklyn, Chicago, Hayward, Houston, Kansas City (Kansas), Los Angeles, Newark,
Philadelphia, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Washington, D.C. The first
ICCUSA National Executive Council election was held at the 2007
Convention in Houston. Los Angeles chapter was elected to provide
the NEC for 2007 thru 2009 in accordance with the ICCUSA Constitution.
The following are the first officers of the organization: Anthony
Ikebudu (President), Sonny Offorjebe (Vice President), Paul Amuchie
(General Secretary), Frank Okechukwu (Asst. Secretary), Nick Muoneke
(Treasurer), Prince Onyebuchi (Financial Secretary), Clement Anyadike
(Publicity Secretary) and late Rev. Fr. Joe Okoye (National Chaplain).
The second ICCUSA National Executive Council election was held at the 2009 Convention in
Philadelphia. Philadelphia chapter was elected to provide the NEC for 2009 thru 2011. The
following are the second officers of the organization: Jude Iheoma (President), James Ogbonna
(Vice President), Obioma Aguocha (General Secretary), Emeka (Asst. Secretary), Nick
Muoneke (Treasurer), Frank Okechukwu (Financial Secretary), Alex Iwumune
(Publicity Secretary) and Rev. Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu (National Chaplain).
The third ICCUSA National Executive Council election was held at the 2011 Convention in
Newark. Raleigh chapter was elected to provide the NEC for 2011 thru 2013. The following are
the third officers of the organization: Marcellina Offoha (President), Sylvester Okonkwo
(Vice President), Josephat Ohaeri (General Secretary), Kalu Okoronkwo (Asst. Secretary), Nick
Muoneke (Treasurer), Chinyere Odomena (Financial Secretary), Alex Iwumune
(Publicity Secretary) and Rev. Msgr. Anselm Nwaorgu (National Chaplain).
The fourth ICCUSA National Executive Council election was held at the 2013 Convention in
Raleigh. Brooklyn chapter was elected to provide the NEC for 2013 thru 2015. The following are
the fourth officers of the organization: Ugochukwu Duru (President), Clement Anyadike
(Vice President), Josephat Ohaeri (General Secretary), Pascal Nwakauna (Asst. Secretary),
Tony Ugbala (Treasurer), Ifeanyi Ajomiwe-Nwakamma (Financial Secretary), Alex Iwumune
(Publicity Secretary) and Rev. Fr. Romanus Muoneke (National Chaplain). ICCUSA
headquarters is currently in Houston and is registered as a Texas non-profit organization.
ICCUSA headquarters is currently in Houston and is registered as a Texas non-profit