By Rev Fr Robert Anagboso
St Michael’s Catholic Church, Akwaeze, was truly alight and alive on Sunday, 2nd July, 2023, in joyous celebration as Very Rev. Fr. Prof Boniface Obiefuna marked his 40th year in the priesthood. It was a multifaceted event which combined the celebration of his birthday, two successful eye surgeries, the celebration of all in Akwaeze Town who cannot walk without walking stick and all in Akwaeze who are bedridden.
The entire event which was transmitted live via live streaming by Fides Media, Okpuno, Awka, commenced with a concelebrated and well attended Holy Mass; attracting a reach of over 7,500 views. Chaired by the celebrant himself, and flanked by one of his town’s brother priests, very Rev. Fr. Dr. Cajetan Obiekezie, and Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Silvanus Nnoruka, the liturgical ceremony was spirit filled and enriching.
Delivering the homily during the Mass, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Ignatius Onwuatuegwu extolled the virtues of Fr. Boniface Obiefuna thus; ‘I know him as a well convinced, energetic and zealous priest of God whose enthusiasm is also sometimes misunderstood.’
He described Fr. Obiefuna as a generous priest whose generosity was manifested in the way he engaged himself whole heartedly to the pastoral ministry of the church.
‘He remains a model and a beacon of vibrant evangelism in Awka Diocese and beyond. His contribution to the growth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria, particularly in Awka Diocese, was immense. The ever zealous group ably led by him waged several holy fights against many idolatrous, adulterous and inhuman practices in some towns like Nanka, Agulu, Awka, etc. That of Nanka stood out because the fight gave Awka Diocese her first two martyrs, Augustine and Scholastica,’ Fr Onwuatuegwu disclosed.
Giving a vote of thanks at the end of the Mass, Fr. Obiefuna thanked God for his infinite goodness to him; that despite the challenges of his early journey to the priesthood, God decided to choose him at last. Thanking the entire Obiefuna family, he described them as both challenges and stepping stones to his priestly journey. He equally expressed his gratitude to the entire priests and religious men and women present, describing them as his real brothers and sisters in the vineyard.
In a very special way, he recognized the immense support of the parish priest of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Akwaeze, Very Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Onuorah, to the cause of the entire celebration, asking God to bless him.
His gratitude to the academia, the current vine yard in which he works, was indeed special. He introduced each and every professor and associate professor. The number was too numerous to count.
A celebration which was meant to cheer the lowly and the weak attracted an uncommon number of the high and mighty in every field of life.
Other highlights of the celebration were the special presentation of gifts to the people who cannot walk without walking stick, the bedridden, and even some professors who had made some indelible marks in his life. There was a specially reserved banquet hall where he actually ate and dined with his favorites which are the lowly and the weak. It was a joy to behold and all were happy.