IGBO CATHOLIC USA CONVENTION 2013

Eleventh Annual ICCUSA Conference
to be held in
Raleigh, North Carolina

 

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HISTORY
OF
IGBO CATHOLIC COMMUNITY USA (ICCUSA)
2003 thru Present


The 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 organization.

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