. . . Appreciates Proposed Varsity Donors
By Chioma Ndife
The Presbyterium of the Catholic Diocese of Awka has held her 2019 Annual New Year Get-Together to appreciate God for the numerous blessings which the diocese has been showered with and to thank him for the gift of another new year.
The get-together which was an opportunity for the diocese to appreciate the various individuals who had been donating to the proposed Peter University, Achina/Onneh, provided the opportunity for more donations to made by the diocesan lovers to ensure that the diocese actualized its dreams of establishing a university for qualitative character of formation of the youths.
About 25 priests who were ordained in 1994 were commended by the presbyterium for attaining 25 years in the lords' vineyard, just as they observed that priesthood demanded total submission to the will of God in all one did.
Among the 2019 Awka Diocese Silver Jubilarians were, Rev. Frs. Godwin Okoye, John Mark Agulefo, Paul Chukwuebe, Hyacinth Nwankwo, Sebastian Anokwulu, Francis Oranefo, Romanus Emeka Ezeisi, Joseph Ejim, Ernest Nwankwo, Peter Nwankwo, Joseph Odiegwu, Hyacinth Anaekee and Theodore Ilo.
Others included Rev. Frs. Lawrence Nwankwo, Chukwuma Ofojebe, Paschal-Paul Okeke, Adolphus Chukwuka, Hilary Okpalaji, Anthony Ike, Nnaemeka Ezeokeke, Christopher Eze, Jude Uba, Jerome Madumelu, Sylvester Dunu, and Mike-Steve Ezetu.
Speaking at the event, the diocesan bishop, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, disclosed that the annual get-together was designed to enable priests in diocese to come together as a family, relax, share ideas and memories of the past year, both on personal and pastoral levels. He commended the priests for their inputs and sacrifices that made 2018 what it was, saying that the year witnessed great spiritual and pastoral activities and initiatives aimed at promoting the bonding of priests, religious and lay faithful.
He maintained that the various retreats, recollections, seminars, meetings and conferences organized were very visible in the diocese as they yielded the required result.
Bishop Ezeokafor gave a review of the happenings in the diocese in 2018, starting from the launch of the Synod Acta, ordination of priests, deaths of priests, resignation of Bishop Okpaleke, success recorded in Peter University and the opening of another branch of CAPAD Oil and Gas.
Advising the priests on how to be better pastors, the Catholic prelate enumerated avenues in which priests could abuse the powers and privileges vested on them in their pastoral ministry to include use of sacramental sanction, paternalism, use of God's name to manipulate people, excessive desire for praises and appreciation, among others.
He cautioned them to avoid such abuses but to keep working as Christ's representatives for people to see Christ in them.
On the power of service, the diocesan bishop noted that for a priest to avoid abuse of power, he must learn to be consultative in all he does, noting that doing so did not mean that one lacked initiative because it demanded a great deal of resourcefulness and creativity.
He reiterated the importance for priests to maximize the potentials of collaborative ministry and give room for others to assess their works.
He identified the harmful effects of isolationism, calling on priests living alone to always find time to associate with neighbouring priests, saying that loneliness killed and could make one angry with oneself, people around, the Church and even with God.
Speaking at the event, the auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, gave a breakdown of the various donations which the diocese had been able to generate for the university project and praised the genuine contributions of the donors to ensure that the diocese actualized its vision. He prayed God to continually bless the donors.
Presentation of gifts to the silver jubilee celebrants, talk on the happenings in Nigeria by the Vice Presidential Candidate of People's Democratic Party (PDP), Sir Peter Obi, and donations by various business moguls, politicians, entrepreneurs, among others, were highpoints of the get-together which witnessed the presence of many priests of Awka Diocese, both in Nigeria and in diaspora.