By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Nine years after his pastoral duties in Ekwulobia, Aguata L.G.A, Anambra State, the entire Ekwulobia Catholic Community on Saturday, December 1, 2018, filled the air with eulogies in celebration of the life and times of the late Rev. Fr. Benedict Obidiegwu Obikwelu, who was fondly known as Fr. Obio Nwaogaranya.
The mourners, who filled St Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Podium, Ekwulobia, the venue of the funeral ceremony to the brim, thanked God for the life well-spent in service to him and humanity, which late Fr. Obikwelu, who stood out for his infectious spirituality was known for.
Late Rev, Fr, Obikwelu served as the parish priest of St Anthony's Parish, Ekwulobia for six years, 2007-2013, and was until his death at 85 years on October 31, 2018, a retired priest in-residence at St Joseph's Pro-cathedral, Parish, Ekwulobia, 2013-2018.
Speaking to Fides, the chairman, Ekwulobia Catholic Central Pastoral Council, Very Rev Fr. Ignatius Onwuatuegwu, eulogised the late Rev. Fr. Benedict Obikwelu for his consistent personality, imbued spirituality and life of detachment from worldly things.
Rev. Fr. Onwuatuegwu, who is also the parish priest of St Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Parish, Ekwulobia, described the deceased priest as one who was passionate about hearing confessions such that he always came out at the parish rectory's sit-out sat down, and freely listened to people's confessions.
Fr. Onwuatuegwu, who lived with the late Fr. Obikwelu for five years he (Obikwelu) was in residence at St Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Parish, Ekwulobia, attested to the deceased's academic enthusiasm, and ever ready to read, study and learn more, despite his old age. According to Fr. Onwuatuegwu, the deceased's enthusiastic spirit towards books and academic was notable such that he (Fr Obikwelu) even requested for and read his books while on the hospital bed.
He noted that due to his unique academic enthusiasm, late Fr. Obikwelu, who had for a long time retired from celebrating public Mass, still prepared very well for his private Masses, and even wrote down the homilies for each of them.
The parish priest also eulogised late Fr. Obikwelu for his large-heartedness and goodwill, which he said were second to none, saying that he Fr. Obikwelu always had one gift or the other for each member of the father's household.
Rev. Fr. Onwuatuegwu, who thanked God that he gave the late Fr. Obikwelu quality time and attention, noted that the deceased was always appreciative even up to his last days on earth.
Also speaking to Fides, a devout Divine Mercy member of St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Parish, Ekwulobia, Mr. Raymond Okoye, described late Fr Obikwelu as an accomplished and ideal Catholic priest, who died in the Lord.
Okoye, who said he spent ample time and discussed with the deceased priest as part of his Divine Mercy aposolate, attested to the fact that late Fr. Obikwelu for is passion to hear confessions, had many times abandoned his food and heard the confessions of the faithful.