. . 14 for Awka, 3 for SAC, 1 for Mamfe
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, in a well-attended ceremony on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, ordained 18 new Catholic priests for the Church.
Out of the 18 new priests, 14 were for the Catholic Diocese of Awka, 1 was for the Catholic Diocese of Mamfe, Cameroun, and 3 were for the Society of Catholic Apostolate (SAC).
During the ordination rites which included the Litany of the saints, Laying of hands, Oaths of Obedience before the bishop, Kiss of Peace, and Investment with Stole and Chausible, the faithful that filled the cathedral to the brim, were enthralled as the bishop, with prayer of consecration at 11.25 am, added to the number of priests for the Church, the 18 new Catholic priests.
Leading in the Concelebrated Ordination Mass, Bishop Ezeokafor in his remarks, commended the sponsors of the ordinands in the course of their formation to priesthood, for their support to the Church, and the parents and families of the ordinands for supporting their sons to priesthood.
In his homily, the Catholic prelate, thanked God for his increased call to priestly and religious vocations, saying that the ordination of the 18 new priests was an indication that the Church had steady growth and future.
The ordaining prelate described the formation which those in the process of priestly ordination were given in the seminary as a necessity so as to prepare them for the sacred vocation. He added that the formation of candidates for priesthood was a collective responsibility, and urged parents to advise their children duly, give them the necessary support, and not to force them into the priestly formation.
Bishop Ezeokafor maintained that priesthood was not a must for all, but only for those called into the vocation. Basing his reflections further on Heb 6:1ff, the bishop said, ‘A priest was chosen from among the people of God, to be a mediator between God and man. The duties of the priests were to teach the people the word of God, administer the sacraments to them; and care for souls, especially the sick, the poor and the elderly.
‘The laity who weigh priests and the religious down with monetary needs, should desist from that. Priesthood is a vocation which demands selfless service.’
He continued, ‘Once the priests and religious give their best to their priestly and religious duties, the lay faithful will take good care of them. Your care as priests and religious should be more, for the poorest of the poor. Priests should give their best to their leadership and shepherding duties in parishes. Be good leaders of the people, build together, and not to scatter. A priest should be part human and part spirit, both in words and actions.’
The Catholic Bishop charged priests to hold on to the proper formation which they were given in the course of their formation, and protect the Catholic faith, especially as the Christian faith currently faced a lot of threat in Nigeria. He exhorted the laity against being stumbling blocks to the priests, but instead, give them the necessary support to make their enormous duties easier.
The new priests were Rev Fr Anthony Ezeteka of St Michael’s Parish, Akwaeze; Rev Fr Bartholomew T. Okeke of Sacred Heart Parish, Ihite; Rev Fr Ambrose Arinze of St Joseph’s Parish, Ozubulu; Rev Fr Remigius Obasi of St Kevin’s Parish, Nimo; Rev Fr Kizito Igwebudu of St Gregory De Great Parish, Akwaeze and Rev Fr David Okonkwo of St Joseph’s Parish, Awgbu;
They also included Rev Fr Emmanuel Izuagba of St Mary’s Parish, Achina; Rev Fr JohnMark Ifedilichukwu Okafor of Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Nimo; Rev Fr Cyriacus Ogbuka of St Mary’s Parish, Awgbu; Rev Fr Callistus Umeokoli of St Pius X Parish, Ezinifite; Rev Fr Emmanuel Nwafor of St Peter’s Parish, Oko and Rev Fr Blaise Ejike of St Peter’s Parish, Oko.
Others were Rev Fr Aloysius M. Njepu of Holy Family Parish, Nnewi; Rev Fr Charles Udegbe of Queen of All Hearts Parish, Aguluzigbo; Rev Fr Simamu Damian Chassi of Ss Peter & Paul Parish, Okoyong, Mamfe Diocese; Rev Fr Paul M. Ifeji, SAC of St Theresa’s Parish, Mgbidi, Awgu Diocese; Rev Fr John Mmaduabuchi. Okeke, SAC of St Anthony’s Parish, Nanka, Awka Diocese and Rev Fr Jude Elui, SAC of St John’s Parish, Oba, Onitsha Archdiocese.
The new priests celebrated their First Solemn Thanksgiving Masses in their various home parishes on Sunday, July 21, 2019.
Among the dignitaries that graced the event were the Catholic Bishop of Mamfe Diocese, Most Rev Andrew Fuanya Nkea, who was represented by Rev Fr Norbert Newton and the Provincial Superior of Society of Catholic Apostolate (SAC) Congregation of Germany, Heart of Jesus Province, Frudberg, Rev Fr Helmut Scharter, SAC, who was represented by the Provincial Secretary and Council Member, Rev Fr Markus Hau, SAC.
Others were the Governor of Anambra State, Dr Willie Obiano, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwudebelu; the former Governor of Anambra State, Sir Peter Obi, CON; the Head of Service, Anambra State, Barr Harry Udu; the Anambra State Commissioner for Basic Education, Professor Azuka Omenugha; and the Anambra State Commissioner for Utility, Engr Emeka Ezenwanne.
There were also the Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners, Mr Mark Okoye, who was represented by the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners, Comrade Tochukwu Obiadi; the Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Dr Tessy Okoli and Chairman, Governing Council, Anambra State College of Health, Obosi, Dr Josephat Akabuike.