By Chioma Ndife
The entire Catholic Community of Neni, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State has organized a grand reception in honour of her priest sons, Rev. Frs. Hilary Ekwenibe, Leo Madubuike, Evaristus Ifeanacho and daughter, Rev. Sr. Ngozika Madueke as they clocked in God's vineyard.
The silver jubilee which was held at the mother parish, St. John's Catholic Church on December 23, 2018 was to celebrate the ordained four for attaining a milestone in the service of God and humanity and to encourage them in their vocation.
Fides gathered that the jubilarians had comported themselves in manners that have attracted glory to the community from their various places of apostolate and had helped in the promotion of the Catholic faith.
Leading in the concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration, one of the celebrants, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hilary Ekwenibe said that their silver jubilee anniversary was a celebration of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for his unfailing love upon their lives. He thanked God for considering them worthy of the ministerial priesthood. He said that their 25 years in the priesthood had been one laced with abundant blessings and situations that always present reasons why they should carry on as pastors of soul.
Speaking at the occasion, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hilary Ekwenibe who was visibly joyous thanked God for his grace and mercy upon their lives and for sustaining them in their religious lives in the past 25 years. He thanked all that stood by them and supported them their formation.
He stressed the importance of helping priests working in Neni Community and urged the priests working in Neni to always alert the indigenous priests of Neni Community whenever they are faced with communal difficulties.
In his address of welcome, the Dean of Neni Deanery and Parish Priest, St. John's Parish, Rev. Fr. Charles Umeoji congratulated the celebrants for clocking 25 years in the service of God. He noted that the celebrants' zeal, determination and devotion saw them through the challenging apostolate which they opted in 25 years ago. He assured them of the community's continuous prayers to enhance their faithfulness in God and beckoned on them to continue in their soul winning quest, saying it was the primary purpose of priesthood.
Speaking to Fides, the Chairman of the occasion and Member Representing Anaocha II in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Charles Ezeani thanked God for the gift of the three priests and opportunity given to them to share in the ministerial priesthood of Christ. He noted that the celebration was in thanksgiving to God and to bring to focus, the need for catholic faithful to continually offer prayers for their priests and religious.
Some of the celebrants who spoke to Fides, Rev. Frs, Leo Madubuike and Evaristus Ifeanacho identified God's grace as their number one driving force which enabled them to attain 25 years in the vineyard of God. They thanked God for what he had recorded through them and identified the impact which they had in people's lives as the greatest moments of their priestly life.
Earlier in his homily, Rev. Fr. Christian Amaogu described the jubilee as a call for thanksgiving for the celebrants and the entire community. He described priests as mediators between God and lay faithful, who were expected to preach the gospel of peace, justice and love, good shepherds who should be impeccable, upright in accountability and very available in taking care of the people of God entrusted unto their care. He thanked God for the gift of the silver jubliarians to the church, and called for stable support and prayers from the laity for them and the entire priests.
Presentation of gifts, cutting of cake, dance among others were the highpoints of the celebration.