. . . Awka Catholic Diocese, Wisdom Class of 95, SABAA Mourn
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Eight months after the burial of two priests, the Awka Catholic Diocese last Monday, March 26, (the Solemnity of Annunciation), interred the remains of another priest, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Anayo Okpala, fondly known as Fr. Acada.
The late Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Okpala, who was born on August 9, 1964 and ordained a Catholic priest on August 19, 1995, died at the age of 55 in the early hours of Thursday, February 14, 2018 at Regina Caeli Hospital, Awka, few hours after being hospitalized.
An Amesi indigenous Catholic priest, Fr Acada was the parish priest of St Rita's Parish, Ichida, Anaocha L.G.A, Anambra State.
Leading in the concelebrated burial Mass at St Patrick's Cahedral, Awka, Anambra State, the chief mourner and Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor, commended all who supported his late priest throughout his pastoral life and joined in the Mass for the repose of his soul.
The bishop condoled with the bereaved Okpala Family of Amesi, especially, the priest's aged mother over the painful lost. He commended the aged mother, who had lost a good number of her children for her faith in God, and urged her not to relent.
In his homily of the burial Mass, the parish priest of St Patrick's Parish, Awgbu, Rev. Fr. Anthony Udogu, stressed the need for the living to spend their lives in anticipation of death, which was a necessary end for all.
Rev Fr. Udogu, who is a class mate of the deceased, prayed God to accept the joyful soul of his late brother priest as well as console the many mourners Fr Acada left behind over the great loss. This was even as he prayed for the repose of the other four priests, who had died in their 1995 set, saying that out of the 17 of them ordained in 1995, they have lost 5, leaving 12 behind.
The homilist charged all on lives of persistence in going good, brotherly love, charity and holiness of life, saying that such were what would lead one to heaven. He observed that it was in line with the call to service that a priest was chosen from among the people of God, to serve as a mediator between God and man.
Awka Diocesan Presbyterium through the funeral oration that was read by the Assistant Secretary, Rev. Fr. Hilary Odili BenEzenwa, described the late Fr. Acada as a self-typified strong man, both physically and spiritually. The deceased was fondly called Fr. Obioma by people, due to his epitomized kindness and cheerful nature.
The prebyterium, eulogised the deceased as a man of very grateful heart for every favour received, a fun to be personality, who was naturally dotted with broad smile, a renowned footballer and wizard in goalkeeping a great tennis player and a priest, who perfectly married his pastoral assiduity with a humble, sociable and playful demeanour.
His Wisdom Class of 95 through the funeral oration that was signed by Rev Frs. Joe Ben Onyia, Donsteve Nnagha and Bona Ike Ozoigbo, described Fr Acada as a friend to all, who exuded joy, cheerfulness, equanimity and docility to the will of God.
According to the oration, Fr. Okpala, nicknamed Acada, was a soccer star from childhood, and he participated gallantly in almost all the major secondary Schools Soccer Competitions in Anambra State. He continued and exceled in sports from the senior seminary to priesthood, and unto death. The deceased was known with his slogan, “Boom wherever you were planted”.
Savio Bosco Alumni Association (SABAA), through the tribute that was signed by the Secretary General, Chidubem Cee Cee Iloghalu, KSM, and read by Rev Fr Festus Ike-Mary Okoye, described late Fr. Acada a devoted member of the association, an alumnus of 1981 set, whose priestly ministry was marked by a remarkable commitment.
Late Fr. Okpala's last days on earth was that of a declined health, pain and discomfort that accompanied a spinal surgery, he had.
In the course of his priestly duties, her served as parish vicar, St John's Parish, Neni, 1995-1996; parish priest in Ogoja Diocese (on mission), 1997-1999; parish priest, St Anthony's Parish, Ikenga, 1999-2005; parish priest, St Anthony's Parish, Nanka, 2005-2011; parish priest, St Pius X Parish, Omogho, 2011-2017 and parish priest, St Rita's Parish, Ichida, 2017-till death, among other ecclesial positions.