“Fr. Stephen Ugwu, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Melville, is continuing to recover in the care of family and friends after he was released from an area hospital earlier this week,” the release reads. “On July 13, Fr. Ugwu was the victim of a violent attack on the church campus by a suspect wielding a machete, leaving the Diocese of Lafayette priest with serious injuries.”
Johnny Dwayne Neely, 58 of Palmetto was arrested in connectionm with the incident and charged with attempted second degree murder, hate crimes, home invasion and a bench warrant.
According to Blue Rolfes, director of communications for the Diocese of Lafayette, Ugwu, a native of Nigeria, emigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago and was ordained to the priesthood in 2002 by Bishop Edward O’Donnell at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette.
“He has served in numerous Catholic parishes throughout our Diocese, and is well-known by his many current and former parishioners for his love of singing and cooking, as well as his wonderful sense of humor and compassionate nature,” Rolfes said. “Fr. Ugwu and the Diocese of Lafayette want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and prayers for his healing, and we ask you to continue to keep him in your prayers during his extended recovery.”