Maximize Extended Period of Indulgence, Awka Diocese Urges Faithful

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

The Catholic Diocese of Awka has encouraged the faithful to make the best of the November 30 extended period of indulgence by the Church for this year, 2021, and obtain indulgence for themselves and their departed relatives.

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, made the call when the Diocese of Awka, at the Priests’ Cemetery, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, Anambra State, on Tuesday, November 2, commemorated the 2021 Feast of All the Faithful Departed, alongside her counterparts throughout the world.

Leading in the Holy Mass for the Feast of All Souls, Most Rev Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor prayed God to accept the prayers of the Church, and grant the souls of the departed faithful eternal rest in heaven.

The bishop at the Mass, imparted plenary indulgence on the faithful who went for confession, received the Holy Communion and prayed one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory be to the Father for the intention of the Pope.

Speaking at the event, the Chancellor of Awka Diocese, Rev Fr Francis Chidume, announced that the Holy Church had extended the grace for plenary indulgence, a spiritual benefit for the penitents and the suffering souls in purgatory, to November 30 of the year, 2021.

The extension according to the chancellor, was due to the coronavirus pandemic, and to afford the faithful more opportunity to obtain indulgence for themselves and their dead ones.

He explained that the faithful, while in state of grace in the period of November 1-30, are expected to go to the cemetery or to the church and pray either chaplet of Divine Mercy, chaplet of Holy Mother Mary, office of the dead, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory be to the Father, and mental prayers for the repose of the souls in purgatory or any other applicable prayers He said they would receive plenary (full) indulgence for themselves and their dead ones, who, he said, they had in mind while they said the prayers.

Pointing out that the Church had also ruled out partial indulgence for the year, 2021, Fr Chidume added that the aged and other disadvantaged persons, such as those who were quarantined and would not be able to visit either a church or a cemetery for prayers, had the grace to say their own prayers, either in their homes or at the hospital, and would also obtain their own plenary indulgence.

It will be recalled that the Church had before 2020, granted plenary indulgence to the faithful only within the period of 1st to 8th November.

Earlier in his homily, the Parish Priest of St Gabriel’s Parish, Okpuno, Rev Fr Emmanuel Ofomata, noted that the Mass at the cemetery was for the faithful to share in the fraternal love which they had with the dead when they were alive, and to remind the living that death awaited everyone.

Rev Fr Ofomata, who emphasized the importance which the Church attached to the Communion of the saints, explained that on All Souls Day, the Church Militant ( the faithful on earth), joined with the Church Triumphant (the faithful in heaven), to pray for the Church Suffering ( the departed in purgatory), who, he said, suffered the pains of purification in purgatory.

The homilist, who further based his reflections on the readings of the All Souls, charged all to aspire for the beautiful heavenly home and banquet, which, he said, God prepared for his people in heaven. He noted that the grace of God made one to be what God wanted him to be, while individual effort for holiness helped one to be that which he ought to be.

He tasked all to dispose themselves, as well as connect to the grace of God, so as to enable them to have the needed strength to wage war against spiritual battle, and make heaven in the end.

Fides gathered that the feast of the Faithful Departed, also known as All Souls, was celebrated annually by the Church to remind the faithful of the importance to pray for the souls of the departed faithful, in line with the Church’s belief in the Communion of the Saints.

The Church on All Souls Day, prays specifically for the departed faithful, who as members of the Church Suffering, are believed to be undergoing purification in purgatory while they await the day they will join with the saints who are the Church Triumphant in heaven.