By Chioma Ndife
Annunciation Catholic Church, Awka, Awka South LGA of Anambra State following its dedication made history on Sunday, 13th August, 2018, as the first Church to be dedicated, in Awka II Deanery of Awka Region in Awka Diocese. The beautifully finished Church was officially handed over to God through the dedication rites performed by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, his lordship Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor.
Efforts towards the dedication of Annunciation Catholic Church building which commenced with the laying of foundation stone by Bishop Ezeokafor on 25th March, 2012 was actualized 12 years after the creation of the parish in 2006. The parish was formerly a chaplaincy, located at the then Government Technical College (GTC), Awka before it moved to its present location after acquiring land. The chaplaincy acquired the church site and the site for the Rev. Father's rectory from Awka and Amawbia interest groups respectively.
Fides gathered that Annunciation Catholic Parish started as an outstation of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Awka. It was founded at GTC, Awka, to serve the then Catholic St. Paul's College and Anambra State College of Education both in Awka. It was administered from St. Patrick's Cathedral until 1980s. when the pioneer Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Grace, Late Most Rev. AK Obiefuna appointed a permanent chaplain in the person of Very Rev. Msgr. J.P.C Nzomiwu.
Speaking at the occasion, Bishop Ezeokafor commended the parishioners for their individual efforts which saw to the completion of the church building. Emphasizing the important need of a church tower, he then called on the parishioners to see that the church acquires a tower in no distant period. He said that a church tower gives identity to any Catholic Church. He thanked Sir Innocent Okoh who assisted the parish in acquiring the land where the church building and Father's rectory were sited, saying that the land makes every structural development possible.
Earlier in his homily, Bishop Ezeokafor commended the level of structural development which the parish has attained over the years and thanked all that supported the project. He said that the church dedication was a pointer to the ever growing faith of Catholics in the community.
He charged the people to always make it a point of duty to support church projects and to render help to the poor rather than concentrating on beautifying only their own houses. He enjoined Christians to always endeavour to live out their lifes in line with Christ expectation.
He described the church as place devoted strictly to the worship of God and cautioned people against engaging in other activities in the church. He tasked the faithful to ensure they beautify their lives by living out their faith to match the newly dedicated church saying that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
In his remark, the Parish Priest of Annunciation Parish, Awka Rev. Fr. Henry Ezeobi who spoke amidst tears of joy, thanked God for his provision which necessitated the completion of the church building. He thanked the Bishop for accepting to come to dedicate the church building to the glory of God. He said that the dedication was necessary as it brings divine presence of God to ensure answers to prayers. He advised the people of Awka Community to return to their church as it has been dedicated to God, urging them to forget when it was dedicated.
Speaking to Fides, the pioneer chaplain of Annunciation Parish Awka, Msgr. Nzomiwu who was full of thanks to God, recalled the difficulties faced by the parish during its early take off stage and how they paid for the land used for the church building twice. He pointed out that the church's presence brought development in the area where it was located. He described the dedicated church as the house of God and gate of heaven saying that the people have the opportunity of making use of the church to bring their supplication to God as they ask for favours among other things.
Very Rev. Msgr. Prof. Nzomiwu and Rev. Fr. Malachy Obiejesi, the past Chaplain and parish priests Annunciation, Awka were greatly appreciated in the course of the celebration for the ideas which they initiated that led to the completion of the church building.
Highlights of the celebration were official hand over of the Church keys to Bishop Ezeokafor, anointing, incensing and lighting of the altar and walls of the church. Cultural dance by Igba Ebube Alanso Ojeligbo group of the parish added flavour to the day's event.