By Mercy Hill and Zita Chidera Ezeno
As part of the events commemorating his 60th birthday; 12 years as the Bishop of Awka Diocese (Anglican Communion), and 3 years as the Archbishop on the Province of the Niger, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, last Wednesday visited the Priests’ Welfare Home, Catholic Diocese of Awka.
He was accompanied on the visit which was a big boost to the ecumenical process by the Bishop of Idah Diocese (Anglican Communion), Rt Rev. Joseph N. Musa. Gifts in the form of food items were also presented to the Home.
The Anglican Bishop said the visit was borne out of the spirit of ecumenism which, he said, defined love as the denominator of all religions.
Applauding the Anglican Bishop’s show of love in action, Most Rev. Paulinus C. Ezeokafor, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, congratulated him for the milestones he was celebrating. He regretted that he could not be physically present for the Anglican Bishop’s celebration proper slated to take place on Sunday, 7th August, 2022, due to other engagements, but promised that his Chancellor would represent him at the event. He went on to urge all Christians in Nigeria to be united in love, noting that any religion that incorporated the love of God and neighbour into its teaching and practice had it all.
Bishop Ezeokafor, who further explained that the Welfare Home was set up for the elderly priests in the diocese, said the initiative brought the old priests together; creating an avenue for them to be appropriately cared for, and for them to share their experiences and enjoy quality social life, even in the midst of the challenges attendant with old age. He remarked that he loved celebrating the elderly as he looked forward to lasting till old age.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ifesinachi Uduh, the Director of the Priests’ Welfare Home, appreciated the August visitors and introduced the elderly priests to the visitors. The priests included: Rev. Fr. Simon Azuka (84 years); Rev. Fr. Clement Peter Obianozie; Msgr. Simon Amataeze; Rev. Fr. Johnson Ojiako; Msgr. Basil Nwazojie; Rev. Fr. Victor Egwuacho; and Rev. Fr. Ernest Nwankwo (64 years).
Fr Uduh remarked that the central message of the visit was love and pointed out that it was essential for the elderly to be adequately cared for.
Msgr. Simon Amataeze, quoting Jer. 15:15, “O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me”, expressed gratitude to the Anglican Bishop on behalf of all the elderly priests, and commended him and his entourage for not only remembering them, but also deeming it wise to spend time physically with them.
Msgr Amataeze extolled his sermons, noting that he regularly listened to them. He also commended what he described as Archbishop Ibezim’s, proper shepherding of his flock and likeable nature, and mentioned that the Catholic and Anglican bishops of Awka Diocese had many things in common. He prayed for the bishops to live long in good health. He also thanked all for the numerous gifts presented to the Home and asked that God replenished the sources.