Enugwu-Ukwu First Indigenous Priest Celebrates 50 Years in Priestly Ministry

By Fr Constantine Echichechi Okoli

The marvelous mixture of grace, service and hard work seen in the life and ministry of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. Patrickmary Anene Mmuo gathered people from all walks of life in thanksgiving to God and in celebration of the gift of this great soul to humanity and the Church.

In an event that is better characterized as splendid and solemn, which took place at St. Francis’ Catholic Church, Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka LGA of Anambra State on Sunday, 27th September, 2023, the parishioners, priests, religious men and women, relatives and friends spared nothing in showering encomium and celebrating the first indigenous priest of Enugwu-Ukwu, Monsignor Patrickmary Mmuo.

The event which was streamed on Fides Media Facebook page started with a Holy Mass and had the Golden Jubilee celebrant as the Chief-Celebrant of the Mass; and concelebrated by many indigenous priests of Enugwu-Ukwu and other priests who were present at the mass.

During the homily, the homilist, Rev. Fr. Jude Chidi Ozumba described the celebrant who was born and ordained a Catholic priest in September 11, 1942 and 29 April, 1973 respectively, as a great treasure to the Church: an educationist of great repute, a lover of culture and traditions of the Church and the people; a promoter of peace and dialogue, the founder the Congregation of Sisters of the Good Shepherd, whose knack for excellence is unprecedented.

Thus, while reflecting on the life of Msgr. Patrickmary, the history of vocation in Enugwu-Ukwu championed by the celebrant and the readings of the day, Fr. Jude exhorts the people to count God’s blessings on them always; and to be assured that all man and women are specially loved and sought-after by God. “It is quite significant that as Msgr. Patrickmary Anene Mmuo is celebrating his 50th Priestly Anniversary, Enugwu-Ukwu has just witnessed the priestly ordination of her 50th priest.

This is an indication that Monsignor really used his exposure and commitment to inculturation, to sow the seed of vocation in his community”, Fr. Jude explained. The homilist was apt in saying that the celebration was an opportunity to celebrate a laudable foundation of faith in the community and to call everyone to work assiduously in using the graces and gifts God has lavished on humanity for the salvation of all.

From such illuminating and History-packed homily and other events that followed after the mass, Fides extracted that Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. Patrickmary Anene Mmuo was ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Abakalilki and that his input to the growth of the faith in that diocese and all the places he had worked had been amazing and grandiose.

In many parts of the diocese of Abakaliki, Monsignor was seen either designing and building institutions and people or making innovations that were imperative for the promotion of faith, culture and dialogue. His landmark achievements and versatility are seen in his many publications which cut across all fields of life and learning.

Before the end of the Mass, the Parish priest, Rev. Fr. PeterVal Uzoezie, the Vicar of the Parish, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Okoye and one of the indigenous priests, Rev. Fr. Joseph Amaegwu, at different times, expressed their thanks to God and to all present for celebrating Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. Patrickmary Anene Mmuo whose priestly life had been an inspiration to other priests and the people of God.

Remarkably, the Parish priest thanked all who made the event a success; the Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, Barr. Norbert Ajaegbu, Oba Theodore Omalu (Ukwa), Sir Cahrles Omalu, Sir Tony Okeke (Akara Nri) and many others whose input were instrumental in making the celebration worthwhile.

The grand reception of the celebrant followed immediately after the mass at the parish field. Highlights of the celebration were the rendition of the welcome song sang during the priestly ordination of Msgr. Dr. Patrickmary Anene Mmuo in 1973 by some individuals who were present that year at the ordination; the dancing of Igede, Akwaete and Igbaeze dances; the idyllic performances of Ene mma and Ijele masquerades; presentation of gifts to the celebrant, cutting of cake  and many others that added colour to the celebration.

At the end of the celebration, when approached by Fides, the celebrant whose expression of thanks and joy was obvious said with excitement, “I thank God for allowing me celebrate this; and I thank all who celebrated this day with me.”