By Chioma Ndife
The Parish Priest of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Nri, Fr. Clifford Aniefuna (6th left), poses with family members of the departed parishioners alongside the photos of the dead whose funeral rites were organized by the church. 8th left is Msgr. Mark Ezeamaechi who led in the Funeral Mass.
St. Mary's Catholic Church, Nri, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State, has organized a Mass Funeral for about 9 dead parishioners in accordance with the Church's tradition to the departed faithful.
The Mass Funeral which was organized on Saturday, November 24, 2018, was for the following individuals, Dominic Chukwuma; Patrick Ayogu; Sebastian Anichebe; Christiana Ejide; Juliana Ebele Egolum; Francis Emeka Mmanko; Juliana Okoye; Roberts Anieze and Philomena Anaedozie. The individuals lived between 1940-2011; 1939-2014; 1937-1963; 1986-2018; 1971-2014; 1986-2014; 1927-2018; 1940-2018 and 1958-2017 respectively.
Fides gathered that Mr. Sebastian Anichebe whose funeral rites were performed by the Church alongside others, had been certified dead recently by the family members after he got missing in 1963 and had not been seen nor heard from since then till date.
Leading in the burial Mass, Msgr. Mark Ezeamaechi explained the import of the burial mass for the departed members of the parish. He commended the Parish Pastoral Council led by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Clifford Aniefuna, for coming up with the idea, saying that Catholics did not abandon their own even at death.
Speaking to Fides, the Parish Priest of St. Mary's Eucharistic Catholic Church, Nri, Rev. Fr. Clifford Aniefuna, said the Mass Funeral was organized for all members of the parish who were buried but were not accorded any funeral rites. He noted that the various individuals who were accorded funeral rites in line with the tradition of the Catholic Church had been committed to mother earth after the necessary blessing of their graves and bodies by a Catholic priest.
He said that the funeral rites were organized to give the departed parishioners the respect which they deserved as Catholic faithful and prevent the pagan worshipers from giving them funeral rites. He disclosed that most family members of the deceased were not able to accord funeral rites to their dead ones due to differences in faith and their inability to come to consensus on where to bury their dead, while others were held back by financial constraints.
He noted that the case of outrageous demands by kinsmen mostly took place when the children born by the dead were still tender and unable to cater for the funeral demands. He revealed that the funeral rites accorded to the dead parishioners would bring relief to the family members and enable them to bury others whenever they were bereaved.
Fr. Aniefuna thanked the family members of the deceased parishioners for coming up with the names of their dead ones, saying the move which they took necessitated the mass funeral accorded to the departed faithful.
For his part, the First Vice Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, Dr. Obiora Okafor, said the funeral rites and Burial Mass organized for the departed parishioners were for them to receive the atonement which their souls desired.
Speaking on behalf of the families whose relatives were accorded funeral rites, Francis Egolum thanked the Church for bestowing the desired respect which every individual deserved at the expiration of their life to the departed parishioners. He said that such would give the living parishioners hope that they would never abandoned by the Church even when they were gone to the world beyond.
He said that the law which stipulated that burial of any Catholic should not be allowed to exceed two months, in line with the directive issued by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, would help people to desist from allowing their dead members stay long without the necessary rites.