A Queensland priest is stood aside from ministry

By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 7 February 2016

The Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese, which has been bringing priests from Nigeria to help solve a shortage of priests in Australia, has announced that one of Brisbane's imported priests (Father Malachy Onuoha) has been stood down by his home diocese in Nigeria. The Nigerian diocese is investigating misconduct allegedly committed in Nigeria by Father Onuoha some years ago. In the Brisbane archdiocese (which covers south-east Queensland), Fr Onuoha has been serving as the parish priest in charge of two parishes (Gatton and Laidley, situated between Ipswich and Toowoomba), helping to solve Australia's shortage of Catholic priests.

Brisbane archbishop Mark Coleridge stated on 7 February 2016 that Fr Onuoha was stood aside while in Nigeria on holidays. He will remain in Nigeria while the Nigerian diocese investigates the allegations.

Research by Broken Rites

On 2 October 2006, the Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper gave some information about Brisbane's plan to bring priests from Nigeria:

The Catholic priest shortage in southeast Queensland has become so acute the Brisbane archdiocese is recruiting in Nigeria.

The archdiocese has one parish priest [in 2006] for every 6000 Catholics, double the number to which they were ministering 15 years ago, church figures show.

Despite the southeast Queensland population explosion, parish priest numbers in the region [in 2006] have plummeted by about a third from 150 to 103 in a decade.

However, the number of parishes has remained the same at 110.

Brisbane archdiocesan moderator Father Peter Meneely said an ageing population of priests and an inability to recruit as many young men to the cloth as had happened in the past had resulted in the shortage.

To cope with the increasingly acute shortage, Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby recently signed an agreement with the Umuahia diocese in Nigeria to receive two priests and four student priests a year for three years from 2007.

The English-speaking priests will work in southeast Queensland parishes for six years before returning to Nigeria.

"It won't solve our shortage but it'll certainly give us some relief and they've got more priests than they need," said Father Meneely.

There is a similar shortage of priests in other parts of Australia. For example, on 21 August 2006 the Cathnews website reported that the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in New South Wales was proposing to recruit priests from overseas.