Father Gregory E. Umunna Biography

Gregory Ejiogu Umunna

I was born in Eziama-Ubulu, South East Nigeria 1968 during the Biafra war that raged between 1967-1970 and claimed the lives of over three million people including my immediate older brother Cajethan. My life was spared through Divine providence. My parents were devout Catholics, and this gave me both stability and an early start in my faith identity. This religious home atmosphere and faith identity soon developed, very early in my life, into a niggling yearning for service in the vocation to the priesthood. This desire grew bigger and eventually lured me to embark on a journey into this quest and supported my training for the priesthood. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1992, a bachelor’s degree in Theology in 1997 all from Urban University in Rome and was ordained a priest in 1997. After my ordination, I served as Parish Priest of St. Thomas parish Nkwerre and Holy Trinity parish Omuma both in Imo-State, Nigeria for six years.

From 2003, I was engaged with the study and research on Christian theological ethics of Care as it relates to issues underpinning human life and health. Within this area, I earned a Master of Science in Dementia Studies from Stirling University UK and a Doctorate in Theology from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium in 2009 with a research in Health Care Ethics.

I have since then applied my practical and speculative knowledge in these areas to wherever I have been privileged to be asked to serve. l am currently a board member of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre Oxford, London, a think tank Centre in all bioethical issues, owned by Catholic Bishop’s Conferences of Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. I represent the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Scotland. My job description is to work with other members of the Board to provide framework, for an opinion on all relevant bioethical subjects, define such subjects and so make the voice and opinions of the Roman Catholic Church in the United Kingdom on such matters distinct and clear. The Catholic Bishop’s Conferences use the reports of this board to speak on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church on bioethical issues. Such subjects include, but not limited to, gender reassignment, abortion, end of life issues, euthanasia, palliative care, stem cells, IVF, experimentations using human beings, issues on institutional ethics, institutional conscience, Catholic character of health care as well as the vulnerability of the human condition, health care, death, suffering, and the role and goals of medicine.

I have also been involved with research on the Theological ethical challenges involved in the health care sector; and collaborated with St. Ninian’s Institute, Dundee, and Grove Academy Dundee and convened the yearly St. Stephen’s conferences since 2013 till date.

Besides academic works, I have been very privileged to serve in the area of Practical theology. From 2013 to date, being a parish priest, serving the over 600 parishioners of three churches in the three towns of Alyth Blairgowrie and Couper Angus in the lovely Perthshire end of Scotland has been a great privilege for which I am most thankful. It means that I could engage through a pastoral duty of care with the Staff and Pupils of St. Stephen’s primary school Blairgowrie as well the residents of the five Nursing Homes within these three towns where we form one ABC family.

Besides the daily administration of sacraments to my parishioners, some very remarkable events: In 2015, when I was tasked with sourcing funds for the restoration and renewal of a ‘B’ Listed dilapidated 1856 St. Stephen’s Church Blairgowrie. I headed the project and not only raised £507,000 from Heritage Lottery Funds, Historic Environment Scotland and other allied Trusts but also delivered this historic and momentous project by July 2018 with a grand ceremony of the dedication of the church. I also initiated and Coordinated a programme on Intergenerational dementia initiative with St. Stephen’s Primary School in Blairgowrie, Perthshire as part of Dementia Friendly Community awareness. With the devastating impact of the COVID19 pandemic, I also undertook another project with the Heritage Emergency Fund to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic and make provisions for the communities I serve.  

My vision of life is based on one humanity and a transformative Christianity as a tool. My aim is always to bring my drive for evidence and result based approach to critical theological/religious thinking and practice to underlie whatever task at hand and while working in collaboration with others. A little bit of tennis as well as walking help at the end of the day.

   

EDUCATION                                                 DEGREES/DIPLOMA AWARDED

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium  Ph. D. Theological Ethics (2009)

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium       S.T.D Theology (2009)  

University of Stirling, United Kingdom.        MSc. Dementia Studies (2019) 

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium       S.T.L. Theology (2005)

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium       License in Religion and Theology (2005)

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.      M. A Religious Studies (2004)

Urban University, Rome                                  B. A Theology (1997)

Urban University, Rome.                                 B. A Philosophy (1992)

BOARD MEMBER

2017 – date: Anscombe Bioethics Centre Oxford, Representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

2010 – 2015: Research Fellow: St. Ninian’s Institute Dundee, United Kingdom.

2015 – 2018: University of Stirling, United Kingdom

2003 – 2009: Postgraduate, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL EXPERIENCE

2013 – to date: Convener and co-ordinator of St. Stephen’s Yearly Lenten Talks

2014: Scottish History and Spirituality.

2015: Inter religious dialogue: ‘That they may be one…’

2016: Believing in Community: ‘The community of believers were all united in heart and mind… (Acts: 4.32)

2017: ‘Godhead Here in Hiding’ Incarnation and the History of Human Suffering.’

2018: Proposed topic: ‘The Human Body’: A theological reflection on the human body, gender dysphoria, abortion, assisted suicide, palliative care and experimentations using human beings.

2013 – to date: Ministry of Service, St. Stephen’s Blairgowrie, Dementia Volunteer Support Worker: Beach Manor Care Home.

February 2007: Confidentiality and Autonomy in Medical Ethics, at Seat of Wisdom, Owerri, Nigeria.

2018: ”Religious and philosophical (especially utilitarian) responses to ‘Life and Personhood’, as these relate to embryo research and euthanasia” Grove Academy Dundee.

PUBLICATIONS

Books:

Umunna, G.E. (2011) HIV/AIDS: Political Will and Hope, Bloomington, USA, Xlibris Publishers.

HIV/AIDS: Political Will and Hope, demonstrates that the scourge of the AIDS, flourishes within the weaknesses of the Nigerian state and in the deficiencies of socio-cultural, economic and political constructs. The above-mentioned structures have nurtured a culture and politics of neglect, inequalities and marginalization of disempowered and subordinated children, men and more especially women. These disease-prone circumstances expose human behavioural weaknesses and the limitations in the government structures as well as poor implementation of policies especially within the health care sector. The result is the inefficiencies, insufficiencies and inadequacies in the HIV/AIDS preventive as well as care and support programmes. It therefore makes clear that for the Nigerian state to prove itself in the present scourge of AIDS, it would have to exert all its political will in order to construct a proper caring responsibility as a basic attitude for her citizenry in general and for her overwhelming HIV/AIDS patients in particular. This is a challenge to a health-care reform and an adequate caring responsibility for people living with AIDS. To do this effectively, this book recommends a few steps.    

Umunna, G.E.  (2003) On the Way to the Kingdom, Orlu, Nigeria, ChimaVin Press.

Umunna, G.E. (2000) The Christian Family: A Springboard to Salvation, Enugu, Nigeria, Pearl Function Publishers.

The book argues that many are Saints today; many would be saints; that is would be saved through the seed of faith and virtue planted and nurtured by their family, while many may be deficient of every grace and nobility of character. The family is therefore a springboard to salvation. Issues bordering on marriage and its properties, mutual co-operation and responsibilities of the members of the family, respect for human life, family prayers spiritualities and apostolate, modern evils confronting the family et cetera find concise attention. Recommendable for family moral instructions, it is a handbook for marriage instructors, catechists, priests and teachers who are committed to both religious and social work.

Journal Articles:

Umunna, G.E. (2012) “The Year of Faith as a Moment of Spiritual Grace: An Invitation, an Opportunity and a Challenge,’’ in The Forum, Orlu, Nigeria, November 18, pt.1, p.10.

Umunna, G.E. (2012) ‘‘The Year of Faith as a Moment of Spiritual Grace: An Invitation, an Opportunity and a Challenge,’’ in The Forum, Orlu, Nigeria, December 2, pt. 2, p.11.

Umunna, G.E. (2011) ‘‘Gender Inequality and HIV/AIDS’’ in Human Rights, ed. African Ecclesial Review, vol. 52 no. 4 and vol. 53 no. 1, pp. 195-218.

Umunna, G.E. (2011) ‘‘Social Justice and HIV/AIDS in Africa,’’ in Human Rights ed. African Ecclesial Review, vol. 52 no. 4 and vol. 53 no. 1, pp. 171-194.

Umunna, G.E. (2007) “Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: Ethical Evaluation of People’s Reactions to HIV/AIDS Crisis and the Moral Responsibility to Care in the Light of Love of Neighbour,” in M.E. Ohajunwa and G. Alaribe, (Eds.), Gift and Struggle, Trajectories of the Christian Life in Nigeria, Owerri, Nigeria, Assumpta Press, pp. 77-125.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

  1. Medical and Health-Care Ethics.
  2. Ethical Principles and implications for Health Care on subjects such End of Life issues, euthanasia, palliative care, stem cells, IVF, experimentations using human beings e.t.c.
  3. Ethical and socio-anthropological questions and implications for Health Care
  4. Themes on the transformative nature of religions/theology.
  5. Practical Theology.