By Uchechukwu Enem
Awka Diocese has played host to representatives of the Inter-Diocesan Liturgy Commission of Igbo Speaking Areas of Nigeria (IDLC-ISAN) during her three-day meeting between 16- 18 March, 2020 at A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral & Conference Center, Okpuno, Awka. This Commission is made up of all dioceses in both Onitsha and Owerri ecclesiastical provinces.
During the opening Mass, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, encouraged them to collect past publications being used presently in the church and update them. He reminded them of the great task before them and extolled them to critically review these liturgical documents to propel its legitimacy for use in all Igbo speaking dioceses. He added that they should look carefully at the aberrations in the liturgical celebrations and produce the needed documents for correction timely.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Liaison Bishop between the commission and the Bishops of the Igbo speaking areas of Nigeria, Most. Rev. Denis Chidi Isizoh, hinged on collective translation mechanism as a means of making Igbo language richer. He added that if all the dialects in Igbo speaking states are summed up, it could make our language inclusive, colourful and meaningful during liturgical celebrations. Bishop Isizoh encouraged them to work in groups and give timely reports which would be presented at Bishops’ conference.
‘One tongue of Igbo language should not be represented alone in Usoro emume. Liturgical booklets should show inclusiveness of the Igbo dialects and meaningfulness. By doing this, it will add more value to our language and make it richer’ he added
Giving his remarks, the Chairman of IDLC-ISAN, Msgr. Donatus Emeka Ogudo, welcomed all to the meeting and encouraged members to work in uniformity. He thanked all who assisted in making the meeting a success. He commended the spirit that various committee members were using to work and encouraged them to keep it up.
As a way of promoting Igbo Language, Msgr. Basil Nwazojie, thanked all who came to the meeting and hinged on the need to promote our native language in the liturgical worship. He noted that the collation committee should ensure they work with the vital details and information provided to improve the liturgical books.
Also speaking, the Awka Diocesan Liturgy Commission Chairman, Rev. Fr. John Umeojiakor, thanked all who came for the meeting In a special way, he thanked Bishop Ezeokafor and Bishop Isizoh for their fatherly love towards them. He said that the tour to Peter University, was to make the world understand that the growth of Peter University was because of the collective efforts of the people within and outside the Dioceses. He added that the meeting was successful because of the commitment of members of Awka Diocesan Liturgy commission who stood together through thick and thin in making the event great.
The newly elected executive of the IDLC-ISAN comprises Rev. Fr. Alfred Emeka Okakpu as Chairman. Rev. Fr. Basil Okeke as Vice Chairman, Rev. Fr. Kingsley Irunegbo as Secretary, Sr. Maureen Daniella Anyanwu, IHM as Assistant Secretary, Sr. Anthonia Onovo as Treasurer, Rev. Fr. Paulinus Okonkwo as Financial Secretary, Mr. Peter Oke as PRO and Mr. Sylvester Nnanchi as Provost.
In an interview with Fides, the newly elected Chairman, Rev. Fr. Alfred Emeka Okakpu, thanked God for the opportunity given to his team to serve the Church in the Igbo speaking areas of Nigeria. He commended his predecessors for the giant strides they achieved especially in the new translation of the Usoro Emume Missa. He said they will ensure continuity especially in trying to provide liturgical books in our native language bearing in mind that the aim remains to ensure and aid full, active and fruitful participation of the people in the liturgical celebrations of the Church in line with the Second Vatican Council.
Other highlights of the meeting, apart from the election, include, Galanight dinner and visit to Peter University where members of IDLC-ISAN marveled at the developmental strides already achieved in the university.