By Uche Amunike
The Umuezeawala Community, Ihiala, witnessed the intimidating presence of the crème de la crème of society as the Catholic Church, December 8, honoured Governor Willie Obiano and two others for promoting social harmony in the state and beyond her shores.
Speaking during the homily at the High Mass celebrated by Francis Cardinal Arinze at the Christ the King Parish, Ihiala, His Eminence talked about the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception which was being celebrated all over the world and which he described as the mystery of the unique privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary not only being preserved from the stain of original sin, but also being free from personal sins.
The Virgin Mary, he said, was full of grace and was never under the power of the devil. He also described the day as a special one in the history of Africa as 19 martyrs who were killed in 1996 were being beatified. Among them were some monks, the Bishop of Oran, North Africa, and his driver who were blown up by a bomb in their car.
His Eminence also thanked God for the performance of three men in government. He recognized Governor Willie Obiano for his promotion of social harmony and good government; Obiora Adimora for his openness to people irrespective of religious affiliation and Donald Chidi Amambo for his contribution to community development.
He encouraged them to reflect on the messages of people's expectations of them in their offices, the importance of good ecumenical growth and the universal destination of earthly growth. He encouraged them to remember always, to give hope to the unemployed and displaced people, widows, pensioners, and also to pay the salary of workers early.
He also advised them to adorn themselves with the cloak of wisdom, fair play, willingness to listen to people, openness to dialogue with people that have contrary views, balanced judgment and transparency in the course of their duties.
In his response, Gov Willie Obiano described the Cardinal as an erudite and articulate octogenarian and wished him more healthy years in his service to God while promising the Umuezeawala Community of his government's support.
In an interview with Fides, the Umuezeawala-born Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba, expressed his joy over the laurel just bagged by Gov Obiano, saying that it was one well deserved. He thanked the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Bishop Hilary Odili Okeke, and His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, for gracing the event and adding colour to the epoch-making occasion.
His words: 'Such visits as these happen once in a life time. Arinze is not just a Cardinal but a Cardinal of Cardinals and I had the privilege of receiving the sacrament of confirmation from him in July 1972. This is the first time a cardinal is visiting my Ihiala hometown and it is a real honour.'
His Eminence recalled that Adinuba personally invited him alongside the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Bishop Hilary Okeke, and they both came to offer the Mass and as well as to beg God to bless not just the three awardees, but the entire Umuezeala Catholic Community.
The event doubled as the 86th birthday of Cardinal Arinze and his 60th priestly ordination anniversary. Highlights of the event included cutting of the birthday and anniversary cake by His Eminence and cultural displays.
Dignitaries that were in attendance included the SSG, Prof Solo Chukwulobe; the Chief of Staff, Mr Primus Odili; Head of Service, Barr. Harry Uduh, among others.