By Chioma Ndife
The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, His Lordship,Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye has ordained three deacons for the Pallotine Congregation in the order of the Catholic Church.
The three brothers of the Pallotine Congregation who were ordained Catholic Church Deacons on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Mbaukwu, Awka South LGA, Anambra State by Bishop Okoye includes Revs. Vincent Elochukwu Obi, Henry Chiafor and Jude Nebeife.
Fides gathered that the ordination of the three deacons was significant in the history of the Pallottine Congregation in Mbaukwu as it marked the first time the congregation would be having their own ordination alone. It should be recalled that the Pallottine Congregation since their entrance in Awka Diocese have been having the deaconate ordination of their brothers and priestly ordination together with those ordained for the Awka Diocese.
Leading in the concelebrated Ordination Mass, Bishop Okoye appreciated the brothers for their intention to give themselves wholly to God and to serve perpetually in God’s vineyard by adopting the life of self abandonment. He thanked the parents of the brothers for allowing their children to follow their life path and the support which they had given to them for the translation of their children’s dreams into reality.
In his homily, Bishop Okoye explained to the deacons, the responsibility that comes with their new positions and urged them to live up to the expectations demanded of them by the Catholic Church and society. He beckoned on intending priests to re-examine themselves and ascertain if it was God’s true desire for them rather than force themselves into the priesthood for the fringe benefits to be gained. He regretted that some individuals’ desires to be priests, rest totally on the respect which priests are accorded with, noting that it was a very wrong motivation that would lead one into frustration.
The Catholic prelate charged intending priests to be conscious of the type of congregation which they identify themselves with and commended the pallottine congregation. He noted that the Pallotines ever since their coming to Awka Diocese have carved out a niche for themselves following the good works they had carried out in the Diocese.
He called on people to give qualitative support to seminary apostolate and seminarians to ensure the translation of their dreams to reality. He emphasized the need for such support, saying that the church in Rome had withdrawn the support which they were giving to Nigerian seminaries as they believe that the church in Nigeria has come of age to take care of itself.
Speaking to Fides, Bishop Okoye commended the Pallottine community for the works which they were carrying out in the Mbaukwu Community and Awka Diocese as it entailed touching the lives of the poorest of the poor. He maintained that the stay and apostolate of Rev. Fr. Peter Hillem was significant as it led to the mass acceptance of the congregation in the host community and by extension in the diocese.
On his part, the superior and coordinator of Pallottine Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ndidi Nwocha appreciated Bishop Jonas Benson Okoye for accepting to carry out the ordination of their sons and the people of Awka Diocese for their undying support to the congregation. He noted that it was the first time the congregation was having a deaconate ordination within themselves in Mbaukwu and maintained that the congregation was committed in the formation of lay people who would work in the church, noting that all persons were called by God to be his apostles.
The chairman of the occasion, Chief Romanus Madukife, encouraged the newly ordained deacons to be consistent in their journey into the life of priesthood, saying that their ordination as Catholic deacons was a step a forward.
The newly ordained deacons who were visibly happy were joined in the celebration in thanksgiving to God for finding them worthy to work in his vineyard by Catholic faithful from Nimo, Omor and Amansea communities, indigenous towns of the newly ordained deacons.