Bishop Ezeokafor Celebrates Iwa Ji

…Holds Send-off Party for 3 Priests, 2022/2023 Secretariat Seminarians and Jane Mmuoh Welcomes 2023/2024 Secretariat Seminarians

By Rev. Fr. Constantine Echichechi Okoli

The evening of Tuesday, 29th August 2023 was a special and memorable one as the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, celebrated the new yam ceremony of Iwa Ji at the Old Cathedral Rectory, Awka. The event also featured the send-off of three groups; namely three priests; the 2022/2023 Junior Seminarians and the Senior Seminarian that worked at the Diocesan Secretariat; as well as Jane Muoh. It was also an occasion where the 2023/2024 Seminarians who would work at the Secretariat were welcomed.

The Annual event, Iwa Ji, started at 7.00pm with the evening prayers, after which the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, Bishop Ezeokafor, led the priests, religious men and women and the lay faithful who gathered, in the Iwa Ji ceremony. The Bishop explained that the event was that of thanksgiving to God for granting the Diocese a bumper harvest and to ask God for his sustenance to humanity.

‘We gather every year for this event with joy and delight to thank God, the maker of heaven and earth, for His provisions and care. We are celebrating life, especially the life of the Diocese and that of humanity,’ the Bishop said.

After the rituals of praying, blessing and cutting of the yam, the Bishop assured the people that God’s blessings were eternal and that God sanctified human labour to give it growth.

More still, the remarkable aspect of the celebration was the send-off party organized for those who had worked at the Secretariat. The first were the three priests who worked closely with the Bishop, namely Rev. Frs. Francis Chidiume; Daniel Eduzor and Michael Oguno.

Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Chidume worked as the Diocesan Chancellor for about eight years; Rev. Fr. Daniel Eduzor was the Assistant Secretary to the Bishop for two years; while Rev. Fr. Michael Oguno was the Diocesan Bursar for two years also. The Secretary to the Bishop, Rev. Fr. Dr. Evaristus Ifeanacho, who spoke on behalf of the Bishop, thanked them individually for their unique and generous contributions to the growth of the Diocese.

‘Thank you for putting in your best; and for savouring the good and the ugly that come with your work with holy patience and priestly commitment,’ Fr. Ifeanacho said. The priests also received gift items from the Bishop.

The second group who were sent-off at the event were the seminarians who did their one-year apostolic work at the Diocesan Secretariat.

While expressing joy at the manner in which they carried out their work, the Education Secretary of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Maximus Okonkwo, ‘thanked them for showing that they really received the formation while at the seminary and charged them keep the light of faith and zeal burning in them.

The seminarians equally received gift items from the Bishop, even as they presented gifts to the priests they worked under through one of them, Barnabas Ezeife. He thanked the Bishop for his paternal care and all the priests they worked under, for their deep love for them.

The third person who was sent-off was Jane Mmuoh who worked for twelve years as the Accounts Officer I and Secretary to the Financial Administrator. The Bishop thanked her for her dedication, even as he communicated his sentiments of gratitude to her with a gift. Jane thanked the Bishop and all those she worked with, especially Rev. Fr. Francis Oranye.

Another highlight of the event was the presentation made by the Music Academy of St. Patrick’s College, Awka. At the close of the event, at around 10:00pm, the Bishop thanked and blessed all present. It was indeed a joyous evening that affirmed the relationship between faith and culture; an evening that explained that “a faith that does not become culture is a faith not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived”.