By Uche Amunike and Nkechi Amunike
The quiet town of Umudioka witnessed an assemblage of the crème-de-la crème of society in their midst on the 27th day of December, 2018 as their church, Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish was dedicated to God.
In a very colourful event which was started with a pontifical High Mass, a lot was taught regarding the sacredness of the Catholic church of today, the roles we play and how we are expected to perform those roles.
Speaking during the homily, the chief celebrant, Archbishop Valerian Okeke, described dedication as an act of relinquishing the ownership of the church to God. He explained that it undergoes transformation just like bread turns into the body of Christ while wine turns into the blood of the lamb after which the outlook remains same just as the essence becomes divine. The faithful, he said, are the church, just as the place of worship.
However, after the dedication, it becomes, not just a house of God, but a place where we go to visit God, bringing in mind, the communion of the saints in heaven, confessors and all the heavenly hosts that were summoned during the Credo. The altar, he said, was anointed because, God anointed Christ as Saviour of the world, while the Chrism Oil used in anointing the altar became a symbol of Christ where all sacrifices were made. The Incense which was burned signified a rededication of those in the church and their supplication to God to hear their prayers while the ceremony of light symbolized the light of Christ that can never be put off.
The church, he said, was the mystical body of Christ that came to the world to hibernate mankind by penetrating our lives and purifying us for the Kingdom of God. He prayed for God's continued graces in the newly dedicated church building so that the prayers of all the faithful that come there to call on His name would be answered.
Speaking on the roles expected of the faithful, he enjoined that they should avoid having cause to desecrate the church. He urged them to bear in mind, the sacredness of the temple of God and the need for them to be holy as the symbols of Christ. He reminded them that the power of God works in every dedicated temple, therefore apart from their reception of the sacraments, they were expected to be prayerful and humble in order to receive the blessings of God in abundance as true Christians.
The Spiritual Director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry and Parish Priest of the newly dedicated church, Rev Fr Emmanuel Obimma, during his speech of appreciation thanked the faithful of Umudioka as a whole for their commitment and dedication towards the church project while it lasted.
He thanked the dignitaries present for their support towards the building of a gigantic project like his parish. He thanked former governor Peter Obi for donating every pew in the church even without him demanding for it. He described Obi as a very generous and humble philanthropist while urging him to continue to serve God with the cloak of humility. He reeled out some names of the faithful who contributed towards the building : Senator Andy Uba for interlocking the entire compound; Senator Victor Umeh for paying for all the vestments won by the 70 priests that joined in the celebration of the dedication mass; an Archdiocesan priest, Arc Peter Oforje for drawing the plan of the church; and even the entire faithful of Umudioka for their support and continued prayers in seeing to the completion of the edifice.
Among the donors were Sentor Uche Ekwunife and Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah who were also present at the Mass.
He thanked in a special way, the Chief Shepherd of Onitsha Archdiocese, Arch Bishop Valerian Okeke who made the opportunity for him to serve Umudioka possible and particularly extolled the two priests who worked with him in the parish, Rev Fr Linus Ezenachi and Rev Fr Nonso Okoye, without whom, according to him, his success stories would not be complete.