St. Alphonsus Library - October 2023
On October 22, 2023 the books from the St. Alphonsus library were unloaded at their final destination at the village of Ogoni in Nigeria.
A story about the books from our library was recently featured on WDIV Ch. 4's website. Click HERE to read the story.
This completes the journey that began over a year ago. The books were discovered in October 2022, packed in boxes in a storage room in the activities building of the school, along with quite a few textbooks that were left behind by the charter school. It was estimated that there were over 200 boxes containing over 9,000 books. A new home for the books was sought before they were lost in the demolition of the school buildings. Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah, one of the Capuchin priests who had been assisting at our Sunday Masses was collecting book donations to establish a library at an orphanage he is building in his homeland in Nigeria. After arrangements were made to donate the library books, they were moved out of the school to Fr. Yagley Hall for temporary storage. Over the past few months, volunteers helped wrap the boxes in plastic for shipment. Thanks go out to members of the parish, alumni and Knights of Columbus for their help with this project.
St. Alphonsus Library - March 2023
Did you know that the Capuchins supported St. Alphonsus over 100 years ago with their assistance during the parish’s early development? Our gratitude for their service was as strong then as it is today. If you attend mass on Sunday, you are sure to meet one of these priests. Having them here at St. Alphonsus - St. Clement has presented a unique opportunity to get to know more about them and their work.
One of the priests who has recently come to celebrate mass with us is Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah. According to a recent article published in the Detroit Catholic by Janet Sugameli Biono, before Fr. Anthony became a priest, he was an activist that spoke out against the injustices happening in his homeland of Nigeria. When it became dangerous for him to remain in Nigeria, due to his activism, he escaped. After spending time in a refugee camp, he entered the Capuchins first becoming a brother and later a priest. The article also states that, “Although today, there is less fear for activists who speak out, disease, infection and death continue to result from the already polluted farmland, crops and rivers. Families have been torn apart from the devastation.”
Today, Fr. Anthony’s vision is to build an orphanage and library for the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta subregion of southern Nigeria. He desperately wants to make education an option for these children and the local adults. Since the area was colonized by the British, most people speak and read English, so books and textbooks will be valued. This is where we can give back and assist Fr. Anthony with his cause. We have books! Lots of them!
During the initial inspections of the school buildings, in preparation for the demolition, library books were not found. The library was completely empty, and it was assumed that the books had been disposed of years ago. Later in the fall, a closed and unlit storage room near the gym was opened and found to be stacked to the ceiling with boxes. The boxes contained books from the library and loose stacks of textbooks left behind by the charter school. Efforts to donate the books locally were unsuccessful until Fr. Gebre Boyine, another Capuchin, mentioned Fr. Anthony’s vision.
He immediately put us in touch with Fr. Anthony who had been accepting the donation of small boxes of books for the planned library at the orphanage. Fr. Anthony visited the parish to inspect the books and was overwhelmed, immediately agreeing to take all the books and textbooks. Soon after that, parish volunteers, alumni, and the Knights of Columbus helped load the books and move them out of the school to a safe temporary storage location. The next step in the process is to transport the books to Chicago for shipment overseas. To accomplish this task, donations and assistance are being accepted.
The project’s fundraising arm is known as the Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Foundation, named after an Ogoni human rights activist who was killed in 1995. The project is currently in the fundraising stage, with plans to start construction soon on nearly twenty acres of donated land in the town of Bane. It is important to note that Fr. Anthony intends to name the library the St. Alphonsus Library, continuing the incredible legacy of 160 years of education in Dearborn.
Night of Hope Benefit Dinner
Night of Hope has been rescheduled to April 11, 2024. Click HERE for information.
The Night of Hope dinner will benefit of the Ken Saro-Wiwa (KSW) Memorial Foundation and help kick start the building of an orphanage in Ogoni, Nigeria — which will house the homeless & orphans who are victims of crisis, war, & natural disaster.
To read an article at Detroit Catholic about Fr. Anthony and his plans for the orphanage and library click HERE.