Following the attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Akachine, Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, on three Catholic priests on Monday 26 September, 2016, a survivor of the attack, Rev. Fr. Chetanna Jude Chukwuneke, has held a thanksgiving Mass to mark his narrow escape.
The Mass was held on the 11th of December, 2016 at St. Camilius de Leillis Catholic Chaplaincy in the College of Health Sciences, Okofia, in Nnewi.
Fr Chukwuneke was among three Catholic priests attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Akachime, Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, on September 26 this year on their way from a condolence visit.
Fr Chukwuneke who was behind the wheels, was left with a bullet wound in the head, while another priest, Fr Jude Ezeokana, sustained injuries after their car fell into a bush. The last priest, Fr Emmanuel Dim, was kidnapped but released two days later.
Speaking during the homily, Rev Fr Gabriel Emeasoba spoke on the need to give people a second chance, noting that it would make a great change in their lives.
Drawing from the first reading taken from Isaiah, 35; Fr. Emeasoba said that the troubles Christians passed through in their lives were as a result of the wilderness caused by sin.
He described wilderness as an isolated place which could either be caused by sin or be directed by the Spirit of God, even as he also urged the congregation to strive to always maintain the spirit of God in their lives. He praised the bravery of Fr Chetanna during the ordeal.
Joined by over 15 priests during the concelebrated Mass, Rev. Fr. Chetanna Chukwuneke thanked God for such an unmerited grace upon his life. He welcomed and thanked friends and well-wishers for their support and succour in the aftermath of his attack.
He recalled his ordeal to the congregation, including how he was saved.
Present at the occasion was one of the victims of the attack, the Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, Rev. Fr. Emma Dim, and many other government functionaries from Ebonyi and Anambra States.
Fr. Chetenna told the congregation that the third priest who was attacked, Rev. Fr. Prof. Jude Ezeokana, was still receiving medical attention and called on the congregation to always pray for their priests and their loved ones.
He commended the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano and other government aides for their efforts in ensuring adequate security in Anambra State.
He also thanked Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) team for their immediate response to his matter, even as he frowned against the way many hospitals responded to emergency cases.
According to him, he almost died in a hospital because he did not have the hospital’s card. He called on medical practitioners to go back to their roots and take saving life as a priority.
The event also witnessed the launch of a book written by the celebrant entitled, ”The Meeting: A Case for the Sacrament of Reconciliation”.
The presentation of the book was done by the Vice-Chancellor of Hezekiah University, Umudi, Imo State, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu.
Fr. Chetanna, a prolific writer, dedicated his book to God and to all those who sought and searched for the truth.
Other notable guests at the event included the governor of Anambra State, Gov. Willie Obiano, represented by the Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof Kate Omenugha; Martin Udeaja; former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, of Anambra State, Oseloka Obaze; the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, represented by the SSG of Ebonyi State, Prof. Ben Odoh; the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, represented by Engr. Patrick Obi.
Others were HRH Igwe Kenneth Orizu and Prince Orizu; CMD of NAUTH, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe; Prof. Gerald Udigwe; Dr. Afoadigwe; Mr. Brian Adinma; Ogoo Emenike (Director of Tummy Tummy); the branch controller of Central Bank, Abakaliki, Mrs. Obiageli Obiekwe, and many others.