By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Umuchu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, last Friday, December 18, played host to four Catholic bishops, over hundred priests, scores of religious and many lay faithful from all walks of life, who graced the funeral ceremony of the matriarch of Ezeoke Family, the late Ezinne Mrs Bernadette Lolo Ezeoke (Nee Uzoadazie).
The late Mrs Ezeoke of Umuikpa Kindred, Umugama Village, Umuchu, who died at the age of 91 on March 7, 2020, and was buried on April 3, 2020, was the mother of a legal luminary and the parish priest of St Maria Gorretti’s Parish, Umuona, Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia, Rev Fr. Barr Anthony Ezeoke, among other seven surviving children.
Leading in the concelebrated funeral Mass at the late Pius Ezeoke’s compound, Umuchu, the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Jonas Benson Okoye, condoled with his classmate, Rev Fr Barr Anthony Ezeoke, and the entire family, over the loss, praying God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest.
In his homily, the Catholic Bishop of Okigwe Diocese, Most Rev Solomon Amatu, noted that the funeral Mass was to pray for the soul of the departed, console the bereaved family and serve as a reminder to the living to prepare for death, which, he said, awaited everyone, irrespective of their age and status.
Pointing out that no one was righteous as not to be sinless, the Catholic prelate, who described the Holy Mass as the greatest of all prayers, charged all to constantly pray and offer Holy Masses for the repose of departed souls.
Bishop Amatu, who further based his reflections on the gospel of the burial Mass (Matthew 25:14-30), described the late Bernadette Ezeoke, as a woman of prayer, who used the talents which God gave her well, and properly trained her ten children in education and with the fear of God.
The homilist thanked God for the gift of the deceased’s priest son, Fr Ezeoke, who, according to him, was also known for his committed life of prayer. He charged the children to keep alive the legacy of unity, love, peace and prayer, which their late mother left for them.
The funeral Mass had the host Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, who is also Fr Ezeoke’s classmate, as one of the concelebrants. While the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, led in the vigil Mass on Thursday, December 17, 2020.
In a funeral oration, the family eulogised the deceased as a woman of prayer, a very kind and generous woman, a disciplinarian, a true mother, a consummate politician, a gifted women’s leader, a true business woman and a devout Catholic who was a committed member of Purgatorian Society, St Jude’s Society, Legion of Mary and Catholic Women’s Organisation.
The deceased, fondly known as Nwanyi Makaria Ibeya, was survived by her seven surviving children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren and numerous relations. The children included Dr Cole Ezeoke, Brig. Gen. (Dr) Chiebo Ezeoke, Rev Fr Barr Anthony Ezeoke, Mrs Kanene Onyechi (Nee Ezeoke), Col (Arc.) Okey Ezeoke, Mr Olisakwe Ezeoke, Dr Chike Ezeoke and Mr Ebere Ezeoke.