By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Eulogies rolled last Tuesday, July 20, 2021 as hundreds of priests, religious and laity from the Catholic Dioceses of Awka and Ekwulobia, and beyond, gathered at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Ifitedunu, Dunukofia LGA, Anambra State, for the funeral ceremony of a deceased priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, the late Rev Fr John Chukwuemeka Uchebo.
The deceased, fondly known as Egovin, Tomatoe Jos, Udalammicha, Akwa Nwa and Olugbajie Girls, among other funny names, due to his humourous nature which endeared him to many, was ordained on October 4, 1986 as the 5th indigenous Catholic priest of Ifitedunu.
Leading in the concelebrated funeral Mass, the chairman, Awka Catholic Diocesan Priests’ Fraternity (ACDPF), Rev Fr Peter Val Uzoezie, thanked God for the gift of the late priest, who, he said, lived a life of joy, laughter and conviviality. He prayed God to look upon the deceased with mercy and grant his soul eternal rest.
Speaking at the funeral ceremony, Fr Uzoezie urged all to learn from the late Fr Egovin and avoid recourse to anger and revenge. He prayed God to endow all with the grace that would enable them to convert the negative side of their lives into positivity so as to excel.
Earlier in his homily, the Chief Counsel and Director, Equity Law Office, Awka, Rev Fr Barr Edwin S.C. Obiorah, described the deceased as one who disposed himself to the grace of God and made the best out of his human weakness.
According to Rev Fr Obiorah, who is also an indigenous Catholic priest of Ifitedunu, God transformed the human weakness of the late Fr Uchebo into his own perfect and ideal priest nature.
In his remarks, the parish priest of St Martin’s Parish, Ifitedunu, Rev Fr Raphael Agbanu, thanked God for the gift of the late priest. Rev Fr Agbanu, who spoke on behalf of Ifitedunu Catholic Community, appreciated the priests and the laity who joined in the Mass in their numbers for what he described as their impressive turnout and solidarity.
He equally appreciated Ifitedunu Central Pastoral Council for the success of the event, and Ukpo Catholic Community for the three days requiem Mass they earlier organised for the repose of the soul of the deceased.
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved family, Mr Casmir Uchebo appreciated the Catholic communities and the priests, who the deceased worked with for the love and care they showed him, and prayed for God’s blessings and protection on them.
In an interview with Fides, the 2nd Vice Chairman, Parish Pastoral Council, St Anthony’s Parish, Ekwulobia, Mr Richard Azubuike Anayaora, described the late Fr Egovin as a lovely priest who loved the work of God, loved to work for the people and loved to save the souls of others.
Mr Anyaora, who said the late Fr Uchebo was the one who inaugurated him as a member of altar servers association, identified unity and love as the legacy which the deceased left at St Anthony’s Parish, Ekwulobia