First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

Elmsford Parishioners Assist an Old Friend in Nigeria
By DAN PIETRAFESA
Photo courtesy of Keyz 2 Life Media
Bishop Jude Arogundade, center, stands with visitors from New York, school and church officials, and students at Seat of Wisdom High School in the Diocese of Ondo in Nigeria.

Nini DeLuca just completed her third trip to Nigeria and is thrilled a fourth trip is planned in two years.

She was one of 10 people from New York to visit Bishop Jude Arogundade of the Diocese of Ondo and his parishioners.

Bishop Arogundade served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Elmsford for 13 years, the last three as parish administrator, before returning to Nigeria in 2010 to serve as bishop. Seven of the 10 travelers to Nigeria who made the January visit are parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

“The first time we went for Bishop Jude and his ordination,” said Mrs. DeLuca, who serves as U.S. secretary to the Bishop of Ondo and works with Bishop Arogundade’s secretary, Father Augustine Daga, to set up the trips.

“The second time we went back for the people. You get there and you think you’re going for one thing, but then you meet these people who are so poor but are so happy and grateful. You get a hunger in your heart to do more.”

The group visited the newly built, 40-room Sancta Maria Medical Center; recently constructed Seat of Wisdom High School; Bishop Hughes Primary School; and the Justice, Peace and Development Center of the Diocese of Ondo. They met with Ondo Governor Olusegun Mimiko and His Royal Highness Oba Yusuf Adebori Adeleye, king of Oba-Akoko.

A third container of medical supplies was sent from Elmsford to the Sancta Maria Medical Center, and more than 3,000 books collected from Elmsford schools and Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale were shipped to start a library at Seat of Wisdom.

“We were hosted like we were royalty. I have a lot of mission experience and this was a delightful visit,” said Father Bill Drobach, S.A., president and CEO of St. Christopher’s Inn at Graymoor in Garrison.

Dr. Swan Thung, a pathologist in Manhattan, made her second trip and plans to continue educating doctors and medical students in 2019.

“On my first trip in 2015, I did lecturing on infectious diseases and this last January, I discussed hepatitis and liver cancer. There is a very high level of hepatitis B and C in Nigeria, and that is why I selected the topic.”

Mrs. DeLuca’s husband, Pete DeLuca, visited Nigeria for a third time, with his mission to educate medical personnel on how to use the ambulance donated by Elmsford to the medical center. When Elmsford received a new ambulance, DeLuca—a deputy fire chief in Elmsford—asked Elmsford officials if the old ambulance could be donated and shipped to Nigeria, which it was last year.

The people of Elmsford await Bishop Arogundade’s annual May visit to New York to confirm children at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and see friends. The bishop also visits St. Christopher’s Inn to celebrate Mass, and also hopes to lecture the 183 men at St. Christopher’s, a shelter for homeless men in treatment for substance abuse issues.

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