. . . Awka Diocese, Bigard ’79 Mourn
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Barely two months after the burial of her sports’ enthusiast priest, Awka Catholic Diocese on Friday, May 17, 2019, interred to rest, the remains of one of her seven foundation deacons, Rev. Fr. Augustine Iloabuchi Oraka, fondly known as Orenge, reports Ifeoma Ezenyilimba.
The late Rev. Fr. Oraka, who was born on August 16, 1949, was ordained a Catholic priest on December 17, 1979 and died on April 3, 2019, 12 years after battling with sickness. It was in his 40th priestly anniversary.
He was until his death, an Abagana indigenous priest and resident at the Awka Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Home, Awka, where he was being nursed.
The Concelebrated Burial Mass that was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, had the Catholic Archbishop of Calabar Archdiocese, Most Rev Joseph Ekuwem as the chief celebrant.
The chief mourner and Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, and his Okigwe counterpart, Most Rev Solomon Amatu, as well as over 200 priests, were concelebrants.
In his homily, the Episcopal Vicar, Awka Catholic Region and Administrator, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Matthew Attansey, urged all to, while alive, work hard to carry out the duties Christ entrusted unto them, saying that those were what led one to heaven.
Rev. Fr Attansey, who based his reflections on the readings of the burial Mass: 2 Maccabees, Revelation and Gospel of St John in the Bible, noted that prayers and Holy Masses were very important for the repose of the soul of the dead. He tasked all on good works, as well as being wise like the five wise virgins, so as not to lose the kingdom of heaven like the foolish virgins.
The homilist enjoined the people of God to ensure that the exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46, be their guide in life. This was even as he charged all on the act of charity of visiting the sick, saying that even without any material gift, one’s presence, text messages and phone calls were enough consolation for the sick.
Fr. Attansey, who was the deceased’s classmate and friend, described the late Fr Augustine Oraka as a very simple man, with child-like disposition.
The Awka Diocesan Presbyterium in their funeral oration read by the Assistant Secretary, Rev. Fr Dr Hilary Odili BenEzenwa, eulogized the late Fr Oraka as an individual who took life easy, noting that the deceased’s motto of “Taking Everything Easy”, guided his actions, and gave him character.
Bigard 1979 priests, through the tribute that was signed and read by Rev. Fr Emma Udechukwu on behalf of the group, described Fr Oraka’s demise as the loss of a faithful and devoted priest of God, a brother, a classmate and a friend, who was fun to be with.
In the course of his priestly duties, the late Rev. Fr. Oraka served as the vicar, St. Andrew’s Parish, Adazi-Nnukwu, 1979-1981; Parish Priest, St. Paul’s Parish, Akpo, 1981-1985; Parish Priest, St. Paul’s Parish, Ogboji, 1993-1998; Parish Priest, St. Anthony’s Parish, Ekwulobia, 1998-2001; Parish Priest, St. Theresa’s Parish, Nibo, 2003-2007; Adjunct Parish Priest, St. Patrick’s Parish, Glen Cove, New York, USA; Associate Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lindenhurst, New York; Diocesan Chaplain, Catholic Nurse’s Guild, 1979-1981 and Member, Nigeria Referee Association (NRA), among other pastoral offices held.