In addition to Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi, the first Saint figure from Nigeria, another Catholic Saint may emerge from the country if the Vatican process leading to beatification and canonization of a 14-year-old virgin, Vivian Ogu, finally sails through.
Tansi was beatified over a decade ago by Pope John Paul II, who himself is now a Saint of the Catholic Church.
President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria: Most Rev. (Dr)Augustine Obiora Akubeze, said the process of Ogu’s Sainthood is already in motion.
The process, it was learnt, would be further boosted on Saturday when the Pope’s representative presides over a ceremony at a pilgrimage site, the Vivian Ogu Missionary Animation Centre in Benin City, named after the late 14-year old virgin.
The centre is being developed at the site the teenager was shot dead after she violently resisted being raped by armed thieves who invaded her family home in Benin City in 2009.
The Pope’s representative will be joined by Catholic Bishops in Nigeria who aare attending an extraordinary National Mission Congress which opened on Wednesday at the Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre in Benin.
The Congress which ends on Saturday, according to Rev. Fr. Ajana of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria, is for the purpose of reflecting on the Church’s Missionary identity in Nigeria and profer a way forward.
In his homily at a Holy Mass celebrated by 21 Bishops, including Cardinal Onayekan, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze urged the Congress to also examine ways of ensuring that Christ faithful are well cared for spiritually and materially as part of preparations for the purpose of missionary work.
Akubeze who is the Archbishop of Benin, said the job of preaching was not exclusive to only Priests, the religions and those in consecrated lives but all Christians.
He explained that the new mission to evangelize calls for retrospection of hearts, saying, “when the message of Christ is well accepted, there will be no more wars” in families, societies, churches and among nations.
Archbishop Akubeze who spoke briefly on the life of Vivian Ogu and her heroic death, said she joins Fr. Tansi, whose lives are recommended by the Vatican for Christian emulation.
Born in Benin City to parents who hail from Aboh Mbaise, Vivian was brutally murdered on November 15, 2009
THE STORY OF VIVIAN OGU
The striking heroism in the story of Vivian is in the remarkable way in which she expressed her Christian faith, having extraordinary influence on the lives of others from the tender age of nine and the courage with which she put into practice what she had been preaching when the opportunity came at the age of fourteen, opting to be killed rather than to be defiled.
Vivian Uchechi Ogu was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria on the 1st of April, 1995, the second of four children of Mr. & Mrs. Peter Ogu. The family was one of the most dedicated at St. Paul’s Catholic parish on Airport Road in Benin City, and her father was among those asked to or-ganize the laity of Ascension Catholic Church, a neighboring Mass center at the Nigerian Air Force barracks that was just down the road.
Vivian was baptized at St. Paul Catholic Church, Benin City on July 1, 1995, and she received her First Holy Communion at the same parish on March 21, 2005. She was in the preparatory class for the sacrament of confirmation, which was slated for 2010, at the time of her death.In academics, Vivian was excellent and she consistently remained at the top of her class from her primary school until her death in secondary school. She combined her academic prowess with a self-determined goal to live an exemplary Christian life, a life she felt would inspire others to greater spirituality and love for humanity so as to give glory to God.
Vivian attended the Nigeria Air Force Women Association School for her Kindergarten education. She then attended the Air Force Primary School, where she distinguished herself academically. For her secondary education, Vivian attended the Greater Tomorrow Secondary School, also in Benin City. At the time of her death, she was in Senior Secondary II, dreaming and working towards becoming a lawyer so she could fight the cause of the poor and downtrodden, especially widows and orphans or, as she told one of her animators, an aeronautic engineer, so she could prove to the world that it was not just a profession exclusive to the male population. Vivian represented her school in many activities.
She excelled in Mathematics, which was her favourite subject, and represented her school in the local “Cow-Bell Mathematics Competition.” For extracurricular activities, Vivian joined an interdenominational group where she held the post of Assistant Prayer leader, a post she held until her death. Her hobbies were, reading, singing, and dancing.
Her spiritual journey received new energy thanks to the Charismatic Catholic Renewal in which she began to participate with her parents. As she grew older, she took part in the Bible study courses of the “Joy Group.” She lived out her faith among her friends by exchanging advice and experiences. She was a steward in her class and played prominent role in the yearly Teen Camp meetings which began in 2007.
St. Paul’s Church encouraged the participation of children and young people in the Sunday Eucharist by offering a special Bible activity for them during the Liturgy of the Word and then having them join their parents for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After Mass, the children received further teachings from the parish catechists. It was here that Vivian, at the age of nine years, began to publicly demonstrate her zeal and courage in speaking to other children on the dignity of purity and virginity.
Vivian joined the Sunday School Community as it was known then and later the choir. She was quite young but committed. She took part in all special events in the Church such as the yearly Children Day Celebration, the Annual Children Mission Day and the Christmas Carol Service as well as the end of year thanksgiving where the children are given the responsibility of organizing liturgical activities for the day. She took part in almost all the activities in the parish community as much as her age then would allow.
For liturgical celebrations, she would always take either the reading or prayer of the faithful. After joining the children’s choir in the parish her family started attending in 2005, Vivian found that the choir director was frequently absent from its practices and activities, and soon she had informally assumed the role of choir leader. She wanted so much to organize a skillful and disci-plined choir that she developed, with her father’s help, a formal statute instituting it. The proposal was approved by the parish council and thus the children’s choir was officially established in the parish for the first time.
Over the next four years, under Vivian’s guidance, the choir grew from a small group of about twenty children to nearly sixty children at the time of her death. This choir frequently won first place in the various musical competitions organized by the Society of Holy Childhood, from 2007 right up to the most recent ones. With her deep conviction and love for God and her companions, Vivian proposed the idea of periodic sacrifice. She encouraged the children to engage in various acts of mortification for salvation, for their personal conversion, and for the material and spiritual needs of the neediest children in the parish and the world.It is therefore not surprising that when the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood (PAHC) was inaugurated in the parish of St. Paul in 2006, Vivian was unanimously elected as the first president.
During her tenure, she worked tirelessly to make the parish’s PAHC chapter second to none in the archdiocese in terms of carrying out works and prayers. Among the projects that she coordinated there was, on the occasion of Children’s Day in 2008, the collection of funds to cover the medical expenses of some disabled children at the Central Hospital of Benin City, and also to meet the needs of some children from the orphanages in Benin City. Two institutions that benefited from this generosity were the orphanages in Edo and Oronsaye.
For Children’s Day 2009, Vivian mobilized the entire parish to establish a solidarity fund for the less fortunate parishioners. Vivian was the official representative of the parish during the meetings and activities of PAHC in the archdiocese. She was also the first member of to contribute to the creation and circulation of the archdiocesan PAHC newsletter, called “Friends of Jesus.” Vivian loved reading the Holy Scriptures and asking for explanations from her priests and teachers concerning the teachings of the Church.
Moved by her love for the Word of God, she had decided to com-mit himself to writing her understanding of the Gospels. She had arrived at chapter sixteen of the Gospel of St. Matthew by the time she was killed.Through the archdiocesan training courses organized for children by the PAHC, Vivian became aware of the story of Saint Maria Goretti. She would continually retell the story of her favorite saint when she invited his companions to a life of faith and friendship with Jesus and instructed them on the value of virginity. With her heroic death, Vivian offered a concrete example of this teaching.
On Sunday, November 15, 2009, while she was at home in the evening, armed thieves came and robbed her family and then took Vivian and her sister out of town to a rural area.
Suddenly some people balked at the door what the family heard next was lie down, like a film the father who was coming out from shower was harmmerd with the head of the bandits gun. They told the whole family to all lie down while they went in side the rooms of the family to make away with their money and treasures.
After the robbery, the armed men seeing the families young Maidens and led by demons but for the glory of God took the two children; Grace her elder sister and Vivian the younger one.
They dragged the girls out from their house leading them to the bushy interior path.
As Grace narrated, Vivian and I struggled to set ourselves free from the clutches of those people, but we could not. They wounded us with sharp objects they were carrying. Their guns were terrifying as they led us to the bush. They dragged us further into the bush. One of them was holding me , while two were holding Vivian. As soon as I sensed a momentary loss of concentration by the one holding me, I escaped and hid myself. It was quite dark and that one could not see me again. He shot at my direction. I would have been dead if I was not lying on the ground.
As I was lying down, I could hear Vivian Shouting and screaming: “I cannot do it, leave me alone. I will NEVER do it”. At that moment, I heard the sound of gun Shot. They had shot at Vivian. Then those armed robbers left the place. When I could not hear their voices, I crept out from my hiding place and moved toward the direction of Vivian. I searched for her and eventually found her. She was weak and helpless. They had shot my sister in the stomach. She said to me. “Go and call Daddy and Mummy to come and carry me. I can not get up. They shot me in the stomach because I refused them defiling me”. I wanted to carry her but I could not, I had no strength because of the beating they gave us.
She Grace went to the family and called the parents who searched for Vivian the whole night without any success. They went back and in the morning they started the search, while searching they found an Hausa Cattle rearer, they asked him if he saw any girl lying in the Bush. The Man saw Vivian so he led them to the place Vivian was lying down now dead.
She was later taken to the hospital and later buried at her father’s compound in Imo State. On November 27, 2009, after the Mass of Christian Burial in St. Paul’s Church, her body was transported to her hometown of Aboh Mbaise for burial.
Having learned the news of her heroic death, the government of Edo State granted the land where she was martyred to the Archdiocese of Benin City. Two years later, the local government council of Ikpoba Okha officially named the road on which she was killed, “Vivian Ogu”.Since 2010, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Benin City gather every year on November 15 at the place she was killed for an annual memorial of Vivian Ogu.
On March 29, 2014, the Archbishop of Benin City, Augustine Obiora Akubeze, inaugurated the Vivian Ogu Society, with the task of making known the story of her exemplary life, preserving the land where she was killed, collecting testimonies of people about her virtues and about potential miracles, for the promotion of the cause for her possible beatification .