By Chioma Ndife & Precious Ukeje
Amid a euphoric atmosphere at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, ordained the first indigenous deacon of Ezinator Community, Awka South LGA, alongside six others during the 2020 Awka Diocesan Diaconal ordination.
This comes as the Bishop of Ekwulobia Catholic Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev Ebere Okpaleke, ordained six foundation deacons for the diocese.
At St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, Nelson Okoli, the indigene of Ezinator, together with three, others, was ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Awka, while the other three out of the seven candidates that filed out for the ordination, were for the Society of the Catholic Apostolate.
Ten persons during the Diaconate held on Saturday, December 19, were installed as acolytes, while another five others were raised as lectors for effective celebration of Holy Masses.
Fides gathered that sequel to the ordination, the seven deacons were not found wanting, a condition that will qualify them to be subsequently ordained priests in 2021. They however can perform some functions, such as delivering homilies, administering Holy Communion, and other such functions as prescribed by the Canon Law.
Delivering his homily themed, ”The choice of God”, Bishop Okoye informed the newly ordained deacons that their duties included the administration of justice and aiding priests whose main work was to pray and teach the word of God, making allusion to the reasons for the appointment of Stephen and other six deacons in the scriptures. He encouraged the lay faithful to pray for the ordained as their faith helped the faith of the priests, adding that it would help the deacons to stand strong in the profession they had chosen.
He said the ordination provided an opportunity for the lay faithful to pray that the flame of fire received by the deacons would continually be anew as they offered themselves wholly for the work of God.
‘Evangelism is what God has assigned to man, right from creation. Service to humanity is what the deacons should be concerned with. As men of good repute, you are expected to carry yourself with dignity and honour for people to be able to trust you.
‘The call you have answered today and responsibility that comes with it is not an easy one. Ensure you have effective understanding of the Catholic Theology as it would help you teach the people of God when you are finally ordained,’ Bishop Okpaleke exhorted.
The cleric cautioned parents of the deacons against overburdening the new deacons with family problems; but rather, to encourage them to do the work of God which they had signed up for.
Bishop Okoye beckoned on the new deacons to work against false teaching and follow the teaching of Christ strictly, even as he emphasized the importance of decency and the need for them to always appear in their soutane as it gave identity.
Speaking to Fides, the first indigenous deacon of Ezinato Community, Rev. Nelson Okoli, attributed his ordination as a deacon to the will of God and hoped that God would prefect all things for his priestly ordination to be possible, saying that he was open to God’s will.
He explained that he started nursing the desire to go into the priestly vocation at a tender age after joining the mass servers at his parish. He said his dependency on God and the host of angels in Heaven would help him pull through as the vocation was never an easy one.
Contributing, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Timothy Ezenwaka, said the town had been born anew with the ordination of a son of the soil and stressed the benefits a community with a priest tended to gain. He expressed optimism that the newly ordained deacon would portray the community in a positive light, noting that it would help in the re-orientation of the youths.
In another development, the Awka Diocesan Liturgical Commission, ADLIC, has presented the 2021 Diary for liturgical activities in the diocese.
Presenting the diary, the chairman of the committee, Rev. Fr. Louis Nwobi, said the committee considered the difficulty which a lot of persons passed through during the pandemic and post pandemic period and pegged the price of the diary at 500 Naira only.
He added that the diary was differently packaged, noting that anyone who picked it up would be able to identify every activity of the Church on a daily basis in the year 2021.