Fr Philip Okoye Holds 2021 New Yam Exhibition

…Marks 12th Priestly Anniversary

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

Barely four weeks after his early test harvest which produced a tuber of yam that weighed 84.9 kg, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), Rev Fr Philip Uche Okoye, at his 2021 New Yam Exhibition held last Sunday, thrilled many people with the heavy tubers of yam which he harvested from his farm.

Fides gathered that the biggest of the yam tubers which the priest would have won the competition with, weighed 140 kg. Some others scaled weighed 123.22kg, 118.00kg and 111.90kg, with each of the yam tubers carried by five men. Diji has just harvested only about   20% of  the  planted  yams

The well-attended New Yam Exhibition which was held at St Michael’s Catholic Parish, Nanka, Orumba North LGA, Anambra State, providentially coincided with the 12-Year Priestly Anniversary of Fr Okoye, fondly known as Diji, due to his many feats in yam farming.

Speaking on the occasion, Diji, who is a priest in-residence at St Michael’s Parish, Nanka, thanked God for the gift of life and for his grace throughout the 12 years he had spent in the Catholic priesthood.

Rev Fr Okoye appreciated all who joined him in the thanksgiving and thanked his mother, Mrs Josephine Okoye, and his family, for their consistent support, which, he said, had been awesome and amazing.

According to him, his mother, till date still gave him pocket money as her son.

The Catholic priest, who served as the pioneer parish priest of Holy Trinity Parish, Obeledu, narrated how he started the yam farming in March 2018 following the need to clear an earlier thick bush that belonged to the Church in Obeledu.

He explained that he had participated in the new yam exhibition competition in Obeledu from 2018 till 2020 after the chairman of the committee talked him into joining in the competition, so as to teach the young ones on the need to be productive.

Rev Fr Philip Okoye thanked the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor; the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev Jonas Benson and the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, for their encouragement, which, he said, spurred him to put in his best in yam farming.

Diji expressed his delight for nurturing many young people in the art of yam farming, as well as feeding many aged and sick people with the farm produce. He described the event as a call for thanksgiving to God for the gift of life and rich harvest.

Earlier when he led in the concelebrated thanksgiving Mass to mark the double event, the Parish Priest of St Michael’s Parish, Nanka, Rev Fr Herbert Ezeji, thanked God for the gift of life and successful harvest for the year, 2021.

In his homily, Fr Ezeji, who based his reflections on the readings of the Sunday, affirmed the goodness of God, who, he said, because of divine love, raised his people to the status of his princes and princesses

The parish priest prayed God to fill all with the grace to be ideal Christians and true friends of Jesus Christ in totality.

Igwe Augustine Chijioke Oragwam, Eze Oranyelu III of Obeledu, who said he was the person that initiated and had till date sustained new yam exhibition competitions in Obeledu, explained to Fides that the competition was put in place to encourage the young ones to fend for themselves through farming and keep away from vices.

He commended Fr Okoye for what he described as his contributions to human and community development in Obeledu through his yam farming. Igwe Oragwam, who was visibly delighted, noted that it was due to the good marks which the Catholic priest made in Obeledu with many youths he had nurtured in the art of yam farming, and the many needy persons he had fed with his farm produce, that he and other people of Obeledu graced the event in their numbers.

Also speaking, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Awka, Dr Josephat Akabuike, expressed delight at the giant yam tubers harvested by Fr Okoye.

Dr Josephat Akabuike, an indigene of Nanka, noted that the fact that a Catholic priest could plant and harvest such tubers of yam was a lesson to others that they could engage in meaningful skills on their own and survive.

The CMD expressed displeasure over what he described as the way people sought for white collar jobs for mere peanuts when they could engage in meaningful skills and earn more income on their own. Akabuike encouraged all to learn how to excel in yam farming from the priest, who, he said, had consistently succeeded in the skill.

For her part, the mother of the priest, Mrs Josephine Okoye, commended the virtues of obedience, hard work and commitment of her son; explaining that the feats attained by the priest were due to the proper foundation which he had, as well as the grace of God and the help of Holy Mother Mary.