Nigerian Born Priest Sues Over Parish Reassignment

A Catholic priest who formerly worked in the Omaha Archdiocese filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court alleging that a reassignment violated his civil rights.

The Rev. Ernest Ogugua, a naturalized U.S. citizen who grew up in Nigeria, is seeking to recover past wages and punitive damages of an amount “to be determined.”

Ogugua charges that the Omaha Archdiocese, represented by Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss and the Rev. Dan Kampschneider, arranged his transfer from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, near 144th Street and West Maple Road, to Holy Name Parish, near 45th and Maple Streets, in December 2006.

The lawsuit alleges that Ogugua was discriminated against on the basis of race and national origin, and says Curtiss and Kampschneider each made comments that Ogugua should return to Africa.

Kampschneider is the pastor at St. Vincent de Paul.

Instead of accepting his reassignment to Holy Name, Ogugua requested a one-year leave of absence to serve in another diocese.

That request was granted on March 3. Ogugua now lives in the Bronx borough of New York City, but the lawsuit says Curtiss failed to issue Ogugua a certificate of good standing that would allow him to be assigned pastoral duties in the Archdiocese of New York.

Ogugua’s attorney, Kellie Paris Asaka of Omaha, declined to say whether Ogugua is working as a priest.

The Rev. Joseph Taphorn, chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese, said the lawsuit “is manifestly without merit” and predicted that it would be quickly dismissed.

“We will vigorously defend our right to supervise our clergy,” Taphorn said.

– Wire Report

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