…Honours Golden, Silver Jubilarians
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
In what was described as homecoming for the members, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) of Province of Nigeria, South East, last Monday, May 24, celebrated her 2021 Annual Pentecost Feast at St Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Ihiala, Ihiala LGA, Anambra State.
The Congregation, otherwise known as Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, at the event which was held at the founding home of the Spiritans, Ihiala, also celebrated four of her priests, who clocked 50 years in priesthood; ten of her priests, who turned 25 years in priesthood and nine others who marked their Religious Silver Jubilee Anniversary.
Fides gathered that the priests who clocked fifty years in priesthood were Rev Fr Ambrose Akalawu, C.S.Sp., a native of Aguneze, Ahiara, Imo State, who retired from active priestly service in 2020; Rev Fr Francis Akwue, C.S.Sp., who was a co-founder of Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy Congregation; Rev Fr Luke Mbanefo, C.S.Sp. and Rev Fr Lawrence Teteh, C.S.Sp., a native of Nnarambia, Ahiazu Mbaise, who was Chairman, Governing Council, Spiritan School of Philosophy, Isienu, 1996 -2001.
The Spiritan priests who celebrated their 25 Priestly Anniversary were Rev Fr Emeka Akabueze, C.S.Sp., a native of Ihiala, Anambra State who is the parish priest of Ss Peter & Paul Parish, Oyede, Isoko North LGA, Delta State, 2017-date and was a former pastor, Heart of Jesus Parish, Rostock, Germany, 2013 – 2017; Rev Fr John Chukwuemeka Anyaegbunam, C.S.Sp., a native of Ogbunike, Oyi LGA, Anambra State, who was the pioneer Principal, Holy Ghost Academy, Amaokpala, 2003 – 2012; Rev Fr Chinedum Aneke, C.S.Sp., a native of Obinagu, Udi LGA, Enugu State, who is in residence at Spiritan Mission House, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Rev Fr Paul Ashiegbu, C.S.Sp. a native of Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, who currently works at Spiritan Farm, Okija and St Benedict’s Parish, Okija and Rev Fr James Uzomah Ibeh, C.S.Sp., who currently works as pastor, St Mary’s Parish, Helena, Arkansas, USA, 2017- date.
Others were Rev Fr Casmir Nwachukwu, C.S.Sp. of Aboh Mbaise, Imo State who is parish priest, St Benedict’s Parish, Okija; Rev Fr Augustine Nwosu, C.S.Sp., of Nnewi, Anambra State, who is the parish priest of Ss Michael & Martin Parish, Hounslow, London, 2018-date; Rev Fr Edwin Ogbuchi, C.S.Sp., a native of Obeledu, Anambra State, who is currently associate pastor, St Michael’s Parish, Ihiala; Rev Fr Jude Okeke, C.S.Sp., a native of Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State, who worked at Spiritan Centre for Self-Realisation, Awka and Rev Fr Ugoh Anthony Ahamba, C.S.Sp., a native of Nguru, Mbaise, Imo State, who is currently working at Holy Ghost Haven, Mgbidi, Imo State.
The priests that marked the Silver Jubilee Anniversary of their religious profession were Rev Fr Emmanuel Avi, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Malachy Aguzuru, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Donatus Akunne, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Kingsley Anyanwu, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Fidelis Okafor, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Kingsley Opara, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Nduja Opara, C.S.Sp.; Rev Fr Patrick Abang, C.S.Sp. and Rev Fr Samuel Mgbecheta, C.S.Sp.
Leading in the concelebrated Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit to mark the Pentecost Feast and jubilee anniversaries, the Provincial Superior, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Province of Nigeria, South East, Very Rev Fr Dr Greg Olikenyi, C.S.Sp., thanked God for bringing the Holy Ghost Fathers and brothers, as well as others, together for the celebration, despite the security situation in the country.
He congratulated the jubilarians, for according to him remaining firm and committed to their calling for the 50 years and the 25 years respectively, which they have spent in their vocation. Fr Olikenyi, prayed God to continue to strengthen the jubilarians with his Holy Spirit, especially as they held on to their mission.
The Provincial Superior, appreciated the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev Hilary Odili Okeke, for the good collaboration which he said, existed between the diocese and the Spiritan Congregation. This was even as he thanked the institutions of the Congregation, the parishes where the Spiritans work and the Holy Ghost Vocation Movement, for their collaboration and support.
In his homily, the parish priest, Mater Misericordiae Parish, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Very Rev Fr Austin Ogbonna, C.S.Sp., described the Pentecost Feast as the celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Spirtans. This was even as he noted that the Pentecost Feast marked the end of Easter Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time of the Church.
Recalling how the spirit of God, hovered around in story of creation in the Book of Genesis Chapter 1, the homilist, maintained that without the Holy Spirit of God, man and earth were nothing. Basing his reflections further on I Samuel 16:14-15 and Ephesians Chapter 4, Rev Fr Ogbonna, warned all against actions that might cause the spirit of God to leave their life, and thereby give the evil spirit opportunity to take over.
Pointing out that the faithful received the spirit of God at baptism, in the Eucharist and through the magisterium, the homilist, prayed for the spirit of God which he said, enlightens the heart, to overshadow those that received it, and enable them to bear good fruits.
Rev Fr Ogbonna, who is a Member of the Provincial Council of the Spiritan and a Councilor in charge of communities, charged the faithful to live up to the demands of their mission as prophets, priests and Kings, which they were called into at baptism, and in the midst of controversies, to remain steadfast in God, who he said was their true friend.
He enjoined all to discover and fan into flame the Holy Spirit which they received, model their lives after Jesus Christ, and with the powers they have as children of God, wage and win war against principalities, powers and evil.
Cutting of the celebration cake, presentation of gifts to the jubilarians by the congregation and cultural dance presentation by students of Holy Ghost Juniorate Ihiala, among others were highlights of the event.