Bishop Okpaleke Calls for Constant Prayers for the Dead at Adazi-Nnukwu Cemetery

. . . Extols Sr Ngozi Ibeh, Dr Pamela New

. . . As Awka Diocese Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Mother of Perpetual Help Cemetery

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

The former Catholic Bishop of Ahiara Diocese, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, has stressed the need for the living Christians to pray constantly for the souls of the dead in order to enjoy the valuable benefits attached to charitable acts.

Bishop Okpaleke, who stated this in his homily at the concelebrated Mass for the dead to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Commissioning and Blessing of the new Mother of Perpetual Help Cemetery, Adazi-Nnukwu, Anambra State, on December 12, noted that prayers and Holy Masses for the happy repose of the souls of the dead, were beneficial to both the dead and the living that participate in spiritual activities.

Basing his reflections on Pages 44-46 of the Awka Diocesan Order of Christian Funeral Booklet (2nd edition), the 2nd Book of Maccabees in the Holy Bible and the reflections of Saint Alphonsus Linguori on the dead, the bishop averred that the annual memorial Mass was for the good of the souls in purgatory, whom he described as suffering Christians, and the living faithful, who were the Church’s militants.

He described the Adazi-Nnukwu faithful and those buried in the cemetery as fortunate enough to have benefited from the grace of the annual event, saying that the memorial was a constant reminder to the living to prepare for death which awaited everyone. This was even as the bishop charged all to invest in the well-being of their souls.

Bishop Okpaleke, who represented the Auxiliary bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Jonas Benson Okoye, extolled the USA based Adazi-Nnukwu indigenous Rev Sr Margaret Mary Ngozi Ibeh, and her benefactor, Dr Pamela New of USA, for the inspiration to turn the cemetery to a constant holy place of prayer.

The Catholic bishop applauded Sr Ibeh for the annual memorial which she organized for the Church at the cemetery, saying that the importance of regular prayers for the dead could not be overemphasized.

In her remarks, the Houston Texas, USA based Sr Ngozi Ibeh, thanked her benefactor and friend, Dr New, for her continuous goodwill and love towards her and the Catholic Diocese of Awka.

The female religious, said the inspiration to make the Mother of Perpetual Help Cemetery a sacred place of prayer, came after the mass burial of the 12 Adazi-Nnukwu people who were murdered by the Boko Haram in Mubi, Adamawa State, in 2012. She prayed that the holy celebration would bring lasting peace to the souls of the dead.

Rev Sr Ibeh is of the Missionary Sisters of Love Congregation.

In their various speeches, the Episcopal Vicar, Adazi Region, Rev Fr Innocent Nwafor, and an Adazi-Nnukwu indigenous, Very Rev Msgr Jerome Anaetoh, commended Sr Ibeh for her goodwill. Msgr. Anaetoh, called on other Adazi-Nnukwu people to give their full support to the anniversary, and make it a very important town affair it ought to be.

The chief celebrant, Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke (2nd right), confers episcopal blessing on the people of God, at the end of the Mass.
Some of the graves of the Adazi-Nnukwu 12 who were murdered by Boko Haram in Mubi in 2012.
The convener and organizer of the annual event, Rev Sr Margaret Mary Ngozi Ibeh, dancing to the drum beats of Ifunanya Cultural Dance, Adazi-Nnukwu.
A section of the congregation, beside the Mother of Perpetual Help Grotto that is at the cemetery, during the Mass.
Sr Ibeh’s father and the oldest person in Adazi-Nnukwu, Pa Remy Ibeh, performing the kola-nut rites.
L-R (front row): Rev Fr Emmanuel Ofomata, Rev Fr Emeka Anyabolu, Very Rev Msgr Bertrand Muojekwu, Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, Rev Sr Ngozi Ibeh, Rev Fr Michael Onwukike and Rev Fr Augustine Oguine, and other priests that concelebrated in the Mass (behind).
Sr Ngozi Ibeh’s Family of Adazi-Nnukwu with Bishop Okpaleke and some of the priests.
Cutting of the 5th Anniversary Cake.

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