By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
As the deadly coronavirus continues to threaten the peace and progress of humanity, the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, has urged the Christian faithful to comply with the directives of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in the celebration of Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion, in order to contain the spread of the global pandemic.
Bishop Okpaleke gave the charge in his remarks when he led in a concelebrated solemn burial Mass for the late Pa Joseph Umeoji, at the deceased’s country home, Aku Village, Ezinifite, Aguata L.G.A., Anambra State, last Saturday, June 6.
The bishop called on all the faithful of each worshipping community to comply with the directives of CBCN which included hand washing, physical distancing, use of hand sanitizers, as well as reception of Holy Communion in the hand, so as to complement the effort of the Church in the fight against COVID-19. He warned that negligence of the directives would mean more harm than good to the people.
The 73 year-old Pa Umeoji, who died on Monday, June 1, 2020, was the only surviving brother of the Vicar for Clergy, Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia and Co-pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Igboukwu, Rev Fr Charles Umeoji. The deceased, who was a veteran of the Biafran Army, was also an uncle to the member representing Aguata Federal Constituency, Hon Chukwuma Umeoji.
He was survived by his wife, Mrs Regina Umeoji, and numerous other relatives.
In his homily, the auxiliary bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Jonas Benson Okoye, enjoined all to see the current coronavirus pandemic that had been ravaging the world, as a call to reflect on the shortness of life, and the need to prepare for a happy death so as to enjoy eternal happiness thereafter.
Bishop Okoye extolled what he described as the virtues of patience, goodness and exemplary courage which the bereaved Rev Fr Umeoji displayed in his priestly duties and as he attended to his late brother during the deceased’s period of sickness.
Speaking on the occasion, Rev Fr Charles Umeoji commended all who joined in the burial Mass for the repose of the soul of his late brother, Joseph, as well as comforted the family, for their goodwill. He prayed God to grant the soul of the dead eternal rest in heaven.
The burial ceremony which was in compliance with COVID-19 protocols of physical distance, hand washing with soap and running water and use of face masks, was also attended by the Vicar General, Rev Fr Anthony B.C. Chiegboka; the Chancellor, Rev Fr Lawrence Nwankwo; the Director of Projects, Rev Fr Jude Mbanefo; the Vocation Director, Rev Fr Linus Ibekwe, and other curial of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia.
Also in attendance were the member representing Aguata Federal Constituency, Hon Chukwuma Umeoji; Igwe Bob Orji of Ezinifite, and others.