Father Anthony’s Sojourn
During the month of January, Father Anthony Dike (pronounced "deekee"), pastor of the Catholic churches in Aragon, Datil, Glenwood and Reserve, visited family and friends in his native Nigeria. Right after Christmas, he flew from Albuquerque to Houston where he boarded a United Airlines direct flight to Lagos, Nigeria. The flight took twelve hours. From Lagos he took another two-hour flight to his hometown of Owerri in the southeastern part of Nigeria. When he landed in Owerri, the weather provided quite a challenge. The temperature was over 90degrees and the humidity was very high. The temperature remained above ninety the whole time. I don't think Father A. minded as he was glad to be there, and we all know that there is "no place like home."
Father A. was delighted to see his family. They held a reunion and it was the first time his whole family had been home at the same time. His two sisters were there, even the nun who works in the United Kingdom. There was lots of food, fun and fellowship. I learned they only eat two meals a day in Nigeria, not three. I also learned the homes have a fireplace-like cook stove that makes it possible to heat up a snack at any hour of the day or night.
Since Father Anthony left here right after Christmas, he told me that Christmas is different in Nigeria. Neighbors, friends and family gather at one person’s house and they have the celebrations and it can last for several days and then they move on to the next and house and have Christmas there. Sometimes they even go to a different village so Christmas lasts a long time in his country. Another thing I found to be interesting is that he tries to visit as many elderly people as possible while he is home, in order to receive a blessing from them, as one wants to avoid receiving any possible curse that can be given by an elderly person.
Another interesting custom is that the children born in the same year in a community come together as a group and hold meetings to help with building in the community, provide help, and share ideas.
Father Anthony said his trip was a wonderful experience and he loved every minute. However, he loves his work in the mission churches of Catron County, so he is happy to return to his second home and get to work at this busy time of year.