Society of Traditional Roman Catholics Nigeria – Owerri Chapter
Brief History of Society of Traditional Roman Catholics (STRC) Owerri, Nigeria
The Society of Traditional Roman Catholics (STRC) Owerri, Nigeria was formed in the year 2005 by some students of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) and a student of the Federal Polytechnic¸Nekede who were disheartened as a result of the numerous heresies and non-Catholic practices associated with the Novus Ordo Church (what is popularly but erroneously known as the Catholic Church today).
These young men were active members of pious societies of the Novus Ordo Church such as the Legion of Mary, Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts, Sacred Heart, St Philomena, The Precious Blood Group, and so on. These young men tried to be dedicated Catholics and grew to be very conservative Catholics. In an attempt to avoid the liturgical abuses prevalent everywhere, they frequently attended the Indult Mass by the Priestly Society of St Peter (FSSP) at Umuaka, Orlu in Imo State of Nigeria, permitted at the time by the Late Bishop Ochiagha.
However, learning more and more about the inadequacy of the faith and liturgical practices by the FSSP, they sought to be more associated with the Priest Society of St Pius X, as they considered them more conservative. But with time, they also learnt that this group too was not completely traditional Catholic, as they continued to have affiliations with the Novus Ordo Church. They did not progress working with the SSPX after they learnt about the arguments of sedevacantism, the position that the seat of the pope has been vacant since 1958 after the death of Pope Pius XII due to the inability of the claimants to the seat to actually obtain authority due to their adherence to heresy.
These young men decided to leave the Novus Ordo after due consultation with Bishop Daniel Dolan. Bishop Dolan took over support of this group and started funding priests to visit to say Mass. The first priestly visit was by the Late Rev Fr Eldred Leslie) in the year 2006 who helped to give the group a solid foundation, thus establishing a viable mission in Nigeria.
There were about eleven young men as members of this group at the beginning. However, after these students graduated and some travelled to other parts of the country, especially Lagos and Port Harcourt, they helped to establish missions in these locations. Two members who remained in Owerri continued to sustain the group in Owerri as soon as they were back from completing the compulsory one-year Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. Hence, by the year 2010, STRC, Nigeria had three branches, namely, STRC Owerri, STRC Port Harcourt and STRC Lagos.
The group in Owerri received about this time into its membership a courageous lady who joined the group shortly after she was convinced concerning the errors of Novus Ordo Church. And after the death of Father Leslie in 2011, the group through the benevolence of Bishop Dolan was visited in subsequent years by Frs. Carlos Ercoli and Julian Larabee before the ordination of Fr. Nkamuke in 2013, the first Nigerian Roman Catholic (sedevacantist) priest in recent times.
The Owerri group which was later named St. Louis De Montfort mission and always met on Sundays for prayers and discussions on matters of Faith and Morals in one of the classrooms within St.Paul’s Primary School, off Douglas Road, Owerri. On Fridays of Lent, we initially held our Stations of the Cross in this Primary School for about two years, but later gathered (for the sake of convenience) at either the Pastoral Centre or the Carmelite Order both situated along Wetheral Road, Owerri for both the Stations of the Cross and the Sacred Heart devotion.
The number of the members which was originally about four persons around 2010 increased to about twelve in 2014. Besides, we occasionally enjoyed visits by some brethren resident in Port Harcourt and Lagos.
After Father Nkamuke’s arrival in 2014 post his priest ordination, Sunday Masses were now held in a member’s house in Nekede, whereas we continued our Sunday meetings in St. Paul’s Primary School, Owerri, whenever the priest was not around. However, when the members progressively increased to a sizable number, the need to look for a more spacious and convenient place to accommodate the members arose. Consequently, in the year 2019, we rented an apartment which serves as our present chapel and houses some few young ladies answering the call to the religious vocation.