Rev. Father Thadeaus Ilechukwu, a Catholic priest and the Spiritual Director of Jesus and Mary Adoration Ministry in Nnewi, Anambra State, is known for his unique approach to teaching his congregation. He gained attention when a video of him disguised as a beggar at the entrance of a church went viral on social media. In a recent interview with IKENNA OBIANERI, Father Thadeaus Ilechukwu shared his motivations behind the act and the message he wanted to convey to his congregation.
The video, which was originally captured on July 5, 2018, during his time at St. James’ Catholic Church in Amichi, resurfaced on social media, gaining renewed attention. Father Thadeaus, also known as “Father Egwu Mmonso,” which translates to “terror to demons,” recounted the background and significance of the video. He explained that the inspiration for his beggar disguise came to him during a trip to Togo. Upon returning, he aimed to convey a message of charity to his congregation.
His intention was to encourage his congregation to embrace charity and giving, emphasizing that everyone has something to give regardless of their financial status. To achieve this, he decided to disguise himself as a beggar and sit among the members to experience their reactions. He collaborated with a makeup artist to create a convincing beggar appearance, complete with tattered clothing, a wig, and fake beards. He described how he was shocked by his own transformation when he looked in the mirror.
On the day of the event, he positioned himself at the entrance of the adoration ground, rainy weather and all, to interact with the arriving members. He shared moments of rejection and acceptance, recounting instances where only a few individuals offered him alms. Father Thadeaus explained that the experience shed light on the reality of how people often ignore the needy, even when they possess the means to help.
The video captured his interaction with his assistant, fellow priests, and the congregation, leading to a revelation that he was, in fact, the disguised beggar. He eventually used the microphone to emphasize the importance of charity and selfless giving, citing the biblical phrase, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” The congregation recognized him as he removed his disguise, prompting an emotional reaction from many who had initially passed him by.
Father Thadeaus expressed gratitude that his message resonated with people and sparked discussions about charity and giving. He emphasized that the act was not intended for self-promotion but rather as a teaching tool to inspire others to embrace charity and understand the significance of giving without expecting anything in return. He acknowledged that charitable acts have the power to bring people closer to God.
The interview also touched on his views about priests who run adoration ministries, the moral challenges facing the nation, and his perspective on the current economic situation in Nigeria. He emphasized that the church imparts knowledge, but it’s up to individuals to follow its teachings.
Father Thadeaus concluded by encouraging government officials to prioritize the welfare of the people and to remember that they are in positions of service for the greater good of the population. He advised them to work diligently to alleviate the hardships faced by the citizens.
In summary, the interview with Father Thadeaus Ilechukwu provided insights into his motivations behind the beggar disguise, the lessons he aimed to impart, and his perspectives on various societal issues.