By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Nine years after he served as the parish priest of St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, and left unappreciated due to problems created by a member of the community, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Uzochukwu Udechukwu, was on Sunday, November 4, 2018, invited by St Theresa's Parish for reconciliation and appreciation of his good work for the two years he was in the parish, writes Ifeoma Ezenyilimba.
The parish through the address that was signed by the parish priest, Rev Fr. Boniface Ezeoke, and the Secretary, Parish Pastoral Council, Mr. Chris Ekwochi, apologized to Rev. Fr. Emma Udechukwu in any way the parish or a member of the parish might have wronged him and tainted his name, saying that he (Fr. Udechukwu), did not wrong them.
St. Theresa's Parish Ichida, through the address, extolled Fr. Udechukwu for the parish rectory which he renovated, the landscaping of the rectory and the church premises, and also for his many good teachings. The teachings included the cultures of truthfulness, as well as keeping the church premises clean and orderly which he inculcated in the parishioners.
This was even as the parish assured Fr. Udechukwu that St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, remained his home anytime. The parish appreciated him with a monetary gift as his sendoff gift.
In his remarks, the parish priest, St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, Rev. Fr. Boniface Ezeoke (Ichie), commended the parishioners who came up with the suggestion for the parish to invite Fr. Emma Udechukwu for reconciliation so as to restore peace, progress and glory to the parish.
Earlier, when he led in the concelebrated reconciliation Mass, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Udechukwu, who is currently the parish priest of St. Theresa's Parish, Osikwu, Awgbu, described his send off as the celebration of God's pleasure and the triumph of truth and justice, noting that when justice marched before God, peace followed in its footsteps (cf. Psalm 85).
Rev. Fr. Udechukwu, who cited the gospel of the Sunday, Mark 12:28-34, in his remarks, observed that the greatest commandment was love of God and love of neighbour. He advocated for love and peaceful cohabitation among people, as instructed by Jesus Christ. He noted that speedy reconciliation with someone that was wronged was pleasing to God more than sacrifices.
Fr. Udechukwu said he was honoured to be flanked by the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Ezeoke, and the vicar, Rev. Fr. Cyril Obiweluozor, who were his students at the junior and senior seminaries, and who worked with him as vicars at Immaculate Heart Parish, Uga and St Paul's Parish, Akpo respectively, immediately after their ordination.
In his homily, Rev. Fr. Udechukwu, noted that truth ensured peaceful cohabitation in every human relationship, pointing out that where truth lacked, trouble reigned. He prayed God to, as in John 17:17, consecrate the parishioners and all in his truth, saying that the word of God was life.
He gave his blessings to the reconciliation Mass, and observed it would have been better if Bro. Joe who allegedly led many of the parishioners astray, was in the church to speak on forgiveness and reconciliation. Fr. Udechukwu however accepted the parish's apology and apologized for his anger, while he conferred paternal blessings on the parish.
Speaking to Fides, Rev Fr. Udechukwu, fondly known as Odirachukwumma, who noted that truth was the root of lasting peace, advised the parishioners against maligning the priest of God, less they incurred the wrath of God.
In her remarks, the vice president, C.W.O, St. Theresa's Parish, Ichida, Mrs. Elochukwu Okeke, who spoke on behalf of the president, appealed to Fr. Udechukwu to forgive the uncalled for action of the parishioner who then served the parish as the financial secretary.
In an interview, a former member of the parish council, Ebelechukwu Ezeoke, thanked God for the reconciliation Mass which their former parish priest, Rev Fr. Emma Udechukwu, had with the parish. Ezeoke who served in the parish Council during the time of Rev Fr. Zeph Uzoh (who left in 2007) and Rev Fr. Emmanuel Udechukwu (2007-2009), expressed delight over the peace that returned to the parish after many years of wrangling.
According to Ezeoke, she had in heat of the turbulence, encouraged Fr. Udechukwu to disregard all that transpired and focus on his priestly vocation which God called him into. She recalled that she had at a time quarreled with the said Br. Joe when she (Ebelechukwu Ezeoke) advised him to stop tainting the name of the priest.
Mr. Joseph Obiajulu, the man that caused the friction, also known as Br. Joe, who was the financial secretary of the parish as at the time, did not show up at the reconciliation Mass.