By Chimezie Ibedu
A thrilling rendition of the Christmas song “Mgbe a muru onye nzoputa” in the sonorous voice of the music maestro, Fr. Cletus Umezinwa, shortly after post-communion prayers, set a fitting tone for the celebrations that followed afterwards at the parish podium of Our Lady of Fatima Church, Umuchu. The event was the 25th Anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Chukwuma Philip Ofojebe (Ph.D) on Friday, January 3, 2020.
The song seemed to re-echo the brief but electrifying sermon delivered by Fr. Paul Chibuike Okoli which likened the priestly vocation to the Lamb of God who offered himself up for sacrifice. Fr. Okoli, a Clinical Psychologist with Park Lane Teaching Hospital, Enugu, stressed three important points namely: Jubilee is an occasion of gratitude for God’s grace; the celebrant must reflect seriously on the focus of his ministry; henceforth; and the need for proper care of elderly priests and religious.
The large turnout of guests at the reception included parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima; family and kinsmen from Umuona, the celebrant’s hometown; the faithful from Neni, Umunze, Agulu-Ezechukwu, Adazi-Nnukwu, Ndiukwuenu, Akpu and other places, impacted by his priestly ministry, friends, fellow priests, the religious and the academia.
Engr. Charles Ezeani, who chaired the reception, paid glowing tributes to Fr. Ofojebe, describing him as humble, disciplined, outspoken and hardworking. On hand to offer non-stop entertainment were Igbaeze Dance Group from the parish; Atilogwu Group from Umunze, CWO Marching Band, and another from Neni.
Similarly, different groups and individuals continued to offer gifts and congratulations to the Silver Jubilee celebrant even after the closing prayers in conformity with the principle of timeliness for which Fr. Ofojebe was well-known.
The biblical expression that a fact is established by the testimony of two or three witnesses became manifest in the welcome address from the parish Pastoral Council jointly signed by Dr. C. C. Ofor and Comrade Sylvester Ngorka and a brief speech by Prof. Ezenwa of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka who supervised the celebrant to obtain a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the same university.
Ordained on August 20, 1994, for the Catholic Diocese of Awka by the late Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna, Fr. Chukwuma has served in many parishes, institutions and among lay organizations besides his hobbies of reading, meditation and farming. As a part of the silver jubilee celebration, he organized a free medical outreach at the parish church in November 2019, during which over a hundred and fifty patients received treatment. The outreach was in collaboration with a benevolent lady, Chief Mrs. Florence Ikegwu (Ozo-Igbo-Ndu), a certified nurse.
Fr. Chukwuma Philip Ofojebe, from a family of Rev. fathers and sisters, expressed profoundly gratitude for the graces and mercies of God while he promised in the next phase of his priestly journey to pay greater attention to counseling and mentoring the youth for a better society.