By Chioma Ndife
Neni born Awka Diocesan Priest and Education Secretary of Ekwulobia Region, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hilary Peter Ugochukwu Ekwenibe has described soul winning, human formation and re-orientation as the most cherished achievement which he had attained in the past 25 years of his life as a Catholic priest.
Fr. Ekwenibe who clocked 25 years in the Lord's vineyard in August 2018, disclosed these when receiving congratulatory gifts from about 30 individuals who referred themselves as Fr. Ekwenibe's Sons and Daughters during the celebration of his priestly Silver Jubilee Anniversary held at St. Micheal's Catholic Church, Neni, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State on January 1, 2019. He explained that the individuals who were made up of priests as well as professional men and women were those who went through his tutelage at the various places where he carried out his priestly ministry. He thanked God for using him to direct and re-direct the steps of the people towards the path of greatest and achievement of their life ambition, saying that it brings unexplainable joy to him.
The catholic clergy identified himself as a vessel used by God and Mary to train people and bring back others who were going astray to ensure that they become the individuals whom the society would be proud of. He noted that he was able to attain such feat through the inspiration and guidance of God and the Virgin Mary.
Speaking to Fides, the celebrant, Fr. Ekwenibe noted that the past 25 years of his life as a priest had brought joy, sorrows, persecutions, tribulations, sense of fulfillment and self-worth, saying that the love and grace of God had kept him going in the face of everything came his way. He appreciated God for the gift of life, for calling him into the ministerial priesthood of Christ among other the various things which had achieved.
He maintained that the priesthood of Christ required total submission to the will of God and called on priests and seminarians to trust wholly in the prefect interjection of Jesus and Mary. He beckoned on priests to understand that the primary purpose of their existence was to win souls for Christ in order to make the world a better place saying that such can be achieved when they focus on their vocation as priests disregarding earthly distractions.
Also speaking, the former Secretary to Anambra State Government, Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, who is a family friend to the celebrant, noted that 25 years anniversary of Fr. Ekwenibe called for a celebration following the great service which the society had received from him through the education of youths. He said it was interesting to know that some of the celebrant's household members whom he served as a formator had become priests. He commended the celebrant whom he described as an educator, following the achievement he had attained in human capacity building.
For his part, a towns man and CEO SIMS Nigeria Limited, Chief Simeon Eyisi opined that the celebration was in renewal of the celebrants effort and courage towards accepting more work.
He commended Fr. Ekwenibe's courage and contributions in Neni Community, saying that the celebrant assisted the church greatly in acquiring the land where St. Michael's Church, Neni was build.
In their various speeches, Mr. Philip Ndubuisi Ume, Hon. Sir Joe Dimobi viewed silver jubilee was a period to take stock of one's success and failure, saying that Fr. Ekwenibe through his life as a priest had inspired people develop positive life style. They pinpointed his contributions to the Neni Community and other places to include drawing people closer to God, acquiring of land required for church building, propagation of the Catholic faith
In his remark, the Chairman of the occasion, Sir Brendan Chika Ukomadu stated that silver jubilee anniversary entails thanksgiving to God for grace and elevation to priesthood, saying that it was not easy to serve God as a priest. He highlighted the various pastoral apostolate which the celebrant had embarked upon and prayed God to give the celebrant more courage and strength to more accomplishment.
Highpoint of the celebration which commenced with a concelebrated holy mass that had over 50 priests in attendance includes cutting of the jubilee cake, welcome song by pupils of St. Anthony Nur/Pri School, Nanka, cultural display by Pupils of Holy Child Nur/Pri School, Isuofia among other performances.