Passionate about social justice ministry
Missioned to the Maryland/Washington DC area shortly after his priestly ordination last summer, Fr. Virginus Osuagwu SDS has engaged in every aspect of parish life. He has followed his call and passion by immersing himself in several social justice ministries.
In conjunction with the Pax Christi, a Catholic peace movement worldwide that promotes peace, respect of human rights, justice, and reconciliation throughout the world, Fr. Virginus is working with three refugee families, from Syria, Congo DR, and Cameroon, as their designated spiritual support. The movement is grounded in the belief that peace is possible, and that vicious cycles of violence and injustice can be broken.
Fr. Virginus, a survivor of gun violence himself, has been invited to speak on the topic numerous times. "To share my story, as a victim of gun violence, sheds light on the impacts on the victim. Although it is very emotional, I feel like God is using the darkest moment of my life to bring light into a politically polarizing area," he said. "I believe that my ministry is growing out of my misery."
He is a member of Voice of Africans in Diaspora, an archdiocesan committee of about ten Africans comprised of clergy and lay who have taken on the responsibility of responding to the problem of climate change and migration as it impacts Africa. Their goal is to provide the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. with a working document that will represent the African perspective during the fifth-anniversary celebration of Laudato Si. As noted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Laudato Si is an “appeal from Pope Francis addressed to ‘every person living on this planet’ for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”
Fr. Virginus was recently nominated as a member of the Steering Committee for Pastoral Leaders for the Archdiocese of Washington DC. This group has the responsibility of making recommendations to the Archbishop/ Archdiocese on the best ways to participate in and respond to the different aspects of Pope Francis' social justice emphasis. He spoke on gun violence and led the prayer during the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in front of the Nicaraguan embassy to protest the corruption of the government. He has spoken at the Sisters Fellowship International (an ecumenical organization of women of faith headquartered in Nigeria) events to promote gender equality and respect for women.
Currently, Fr. Virginus is ministering to a diverse congregation as the Associate Pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Burtonsville, Maryland and is teaching and celebrating the Eucharist and sacraments as well as making pastoral visits and celebrations of life. He is also sharing Masses at St. Francis of Assisi Derwood, Gaithersburg, MD, and ministering to seniors. He acknowledges that the work is enormous, and the needs of those he ministers to can be overwhelming. One of his most significant challenges has been being able to discern and distinguish between what is immediately necessary and what can wait a bit. He recalls the inexplicably profound moment he experienced during the Laying on of Hands portion of his ordination to the priesthood. "Personally, to be ordained a Salvatorian priest means to be part of something greater and deeper than myself. I am privileged to bring the goodness and kindness of Jesus the Savior to all," he said. "My greatest joy is realizing my commitment to serve God, and the Church is a source of hope and joy to many, beyond my wildest dreams."