Monday, November 20, 2006

Nigerian-Born, St Thomas Educated, Father Peter Njoku was a parent figure to many

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Throughout his life, the Rev. Peter C. Njoku believed child-rearing was a responsibility that reached far beyond the child's parents, and he practiced what he preached.
Njoku took responsibility for six nephews, bringing them from his native Nigeria to Minnesota to be educated. When a young niece's mother died, he adopted the girl as his own. While tending his parish at St. Jerome's Catholic Church in Maplewood, Njoku spent time on the side collecting books and educational materials to be shipped to schoolchildren across Nigeria.
Njoku died shortly after he offered Communion at a Mass Nov. 12, while visiting his hometown of Owerri, in southeastern Nigeria. He was 60.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas University, met Njoku the day after he arrived in the United States from Nigeria, back in 1977.
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Njoku served a number of parishes in Minnesota, including St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, St. Michael in Pine Island, St. Mary in Bellechester, St. Paul in Zumbrota and Most Holy Trinity in St. Louis Park.
Njoku was also a co-founder and leader of the Umunne Cultural Association, a St. Paul group that serves as the hub of activities for Nigerians from the Igbo tribe.
Njoku will be buried in Owerri on Friday. A prayer vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. that day at St. Jerome's, 380 Roselawn Av. E., Maplewood. The vigil will end at dawn. Star Tribune
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