Seme sex marriage: Parishioner condemns persecution of US based Nigerian Catholic Priest

A parishioner of West, Texas in United States of America (USA), Doug Dulock, has decried alleged persecution of Rev Fr. Anthony Odiong of St. Mary Church of the Assumption Catholic Parish in the country.

Rev. Fr. Odiong was ordained a Priest in Catholic Diocese of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state from where he travelled to United States where he has been for years in his calling as a priest.

He has been preaching against same-sex marriage, homosexuality and other teachings that does not go down well with the church authority in the US.

The church authority has reportedly sanctioned him over the teachings.

But Doug Dulock, one of the parishioners backed his teachings and condemned his alleged persecution.

This was contained in a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital.

He opined that the catholic priest has done no wrong in his teachings as according to him, he is doing the work of God and has changed lives and brought many people to the church.

“I write this regarding Fr Anthony Odiong’s circumstances in the United States. I am a resident of West, Texas, where I met Fr. Anthony at St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption. I am pleased to have Fr. Anthony as a friend and spiritual advisor. I visited Fr Anthony in Lulling, Louisiana, and travelled with Fr Anthony to Medjugorje in 2018, 2021 and 2023. Fr. Anthony has changed the lives of many people with his teachings.

“While in Medjugorje in 2021, Fr. Anthony was invited to join Mirjana during the Apparition. Fr. Anthony was in tears during the Apparition, and something changed in him. After that trip, I believe he was more than ever before devoted to the Blessed Mother Mary Queen of Peace, God’s number one messenger.

“Fr Anthony is only a messenger sharing Mary’s vision of bringing people closer to God by constructing Retreat Centers with a Prayer Chapel in Lulling, LA, West, TX and Florida. The diocese doesn’t share this vision.

“I never witnessed inappropriate behaviour on our trips to Medjugorje or when visiting with Fr. Anthony. Father Anthony was accused of misconduct in 2018 and 2023 that weren’t investigated, and no criminal charges were ever filed. Fr. Anthony asked the diocese to investigate. In the world we live in now, unfounded accusations in the media are the same as guilt.

“On one trip, I tell people of a time we were at a restaurant across the street from St. James Church in Medjugorje. While at the restaurant, strangers would line up to ask Fr. Anthony for a blessing. After dinner with friends, we walked across the street for adoration at St. James. As soon as we approached the church, I noticed Fr. Anthony’s demeanor changed from enjoying friends to getting serious about doing God’s work. I was impressed with his devotion to the Lord God.

“The people from the City of West liked Fr. Anthony very much and collected money to send him to Rome for his studies. This was after the diocese refused Fr. Anthony’s request for funds. This must have angered the diocese; Fr Ed and Fr Boniface were moved to other parishes. Fr. Anthony transferred to Lulling, LA. West had the 3 best priests in the world and a thriving parish.

“The next 2 priests in the West were not close to the people in the congregation. People started to leave the church. I have heard many people write to Bishop Joe and wanted to meet with him. I haven’t heard of anyone from the City of West area receiving a reply or meeting with the bishop.

“When a congregation member wanted to show his appreciation to St Mary’s Church of the Assumption in 2017, he constructed a football field and prayer garden for the school. He wanted to name the complex in Fr Ed and Fr Isidore’s name and Fr Anthony have the dedication. This person thought he was doing something good and was giving this to the school. The diocese said the complex can’t be named with the priests’ names, and Fr. Anthony was banned from celebrating mass in the Austin Diocese.

“This person didn’t give the complex to the church and named the complex after the priests’ names. He leases the complex to the school for one dollar a year and pays maintenance costs. This person has tried to meet with Bishop Joe since 2017 to explain everything. Bishop Joe will not meet with him.

“The congregation of St Mary’s church of the Assumption is getting smaller. Some members are leaving the Catholic church. Many members of the congregation go to church in surrounding parishes. It is sad to look back at the thriving parish and now today with an ageing congregation.

“The diocese sent a letter to be read in the area churches. The letter states that no one should socialise with Fr. Anthony. Why? Instead of condemning, why not an explanation why Fr Anthony can’t celebrate mass and the congregation can decide if they want to socialize with him? Fr. Anthony is going through trials and tribulations like many of the stories of people in the Bible.

“The Bible teaches compassion, forgiveness, and love for each other. I hate to speak negatively of those who represent God, but their actions do not represent compassion, forgiveness, and love. Fr. Anthony changed lives and brought many people to the church.

“I remember Fr Anthony’s homily in St Mary’s Church of the Assumption one month before the explosion in 2013. Fr. Anthony said, “Pray, you are living history, and you don’t even know it”. About a month later, the explosion was on the world news. He didn’t predict the explosion. He told us to pray because you don’t know the final hour.

“I believe Fr. Anthony has done no wrong. We will wait for the outcome. If the Blessed Mother wants to fulfill her vision for America, it will happen. From my perspective, Fr. Anthony has done no wrong. Maybe one day, someone can explain why all these things are happening to us and the church”, Dulock stated.