Brother Aniedi Okure, O.P. is the new General Promoter of Justice and Peace and the new Delegate to the United Nations. He was appointed by the Master of the Order, Brother Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., on October 25, 2020, and assigned to the Convent of Santa Sabina, Rome, on December 10, 2020.
Until his appointment as the General Promoter of Justice and Peace as well as Delegate to the United Nations, Brother Aniedi served as the Executive Director of the Washington DC-based Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN), and as a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at The Catholic University of America. His key involvement with AFJN has focused on advocacy for just African policies and the formation of civil society groups based on Catholic social teaching, contextual social analysis, techniques and the mobilisation of groups for concrete advocacy on issues that impact their communities.
Previously, he served as the Coordinator of Ethnic Ministry at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and as Vicar Provincial for North America and the Caribbean of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker, Nigeria and Ghana.
Brother Aniedi has diverse experiences in pastoral ministry in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States, including serving as youth chaplain, chaplain of the Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students, collaborator at St. Ambrose Parish in Boston, Massachusetts, chaplain of the University of Ife, Nigeria, chaplain of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and chaplain of the Geisinger Medical Centre in Danville, Pennsylvania.
He has taught at several universities in the United States and Nigeria. For many years he has conducted workshops and seminars on cultural orientation for international pastoral workers and the intercultural competence programme for professionals working in the field of immigration.
Brother Aniedi considers it an honour to be called to serve the Dominican family in the Curia: “I am grateful for the trust that has been placed in me. My first task, both in Rome and in Geneva, will be to familiarise myself with the field. I need to learn what has been done by my predecessors over the years, how each task has been carried out and how effective the initiatives in this field have been.”
He has set as his number one priority learning about the Commission, about the environments in which members of the Dominican family minister, the challenges they face in their different contexts, and how they negotiate those challenges: “Knowing that we are spread across 120 countries, this will take some time, given the great diversity within the family and the divergent contexts in which we are called to serve.”
He adds, “By getting to know the terrain, I hope to continue to build and strengthen solidarity within the family, but I will also try to link these coalitions beyond the Order, to other institutions that have a similar mission or that could be encouraged to be part of the mission of justice. There is strength in unity. An African – Ethiopian – proverb says that ‘When spider webs unite, they can bind a lion’. The more we work together to solve problems, the better our results.”
Recognizing the particular difficulty of these times, Brother Aniedi noted that, on the one hand, we have a growing trend towards globalisation while at the same time harbouring suspicions about a “single global agenda”. On the other hand, we have entrenched nationalist and exclusivist tendencies that have a world view divided along the lines of Them-Us. “And yet,” he continues, “with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, reality shows us that we are indeed all interconnected in this world. What is happening even far away from my reality should concern me. So the question is how we as a family negotiate within these trends. How do we collectively reflect on appropriate ways to make people understand that we are indeed a family of God, distributed in different contexts, regions and geographical areas, but nevertheless one family.”
Citing Pope Paul VI, Brother Aniedi recalled that our interdependence is such that when one member of the family is debased, we are all debased; and when one member is elevated, we are all elevated. This interdependence, according to him, is very apparent in the global impact of COVID-19, such that there is a need to start imagining our world in terms of interdependence and connectivity.
He concludes, “The Dominican family has a rich heritage, a multitude of resources, talents and experiences. My goal will be to work with them to find innovative ways to use their treasures to mobilize us for better results.”