By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
While some persons are still uncertain about their reasons for anniversary celebrations, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), Rev Fr Barr Anthony Ezeoke, has described Priestly Silver Jubilee Anniversary as the celebration of God’s mercy and love.
Rev Fr Ezeoke stated this in his homily for concelebrated thanksgiving Mass to mark the Priestly Silver Jubilee Anniversary of a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, Rev Fr Dr Jude Chikadibia Okafor, at Ss John & Paul Catholic Church, Awka, last Saturday, August 28.
He noted that a priest was chosen from among men and raised to the current status of a priest, a prophet and a king, to be a mediator between God and man. He noted that a priest, who was in persona Christ, had the duty to teach, to lead and to sanctify the people of God.
The homilist described Eucharist celebration as the greatest sacrifice which was offered only by a priest, and in which Jesus Christ manifested himself through the Holy Communion which the faithful received.
Recalling how the candidates for the priestly ordination during the rites, prostrated for Litany of the saints, Fr Ezeoke explained that priestly ordination was a process of trans-sacerdotal transformation and a clear manifestation of the communion of the saints.
Rev Fr Ezeoke, who took the congregation through the relationship he had with the celebrant, commended him on what he described as his wonderful disposition to the Catholic priesthood. He described Fr Jude Okafor as a happy priest who loved the priesthood.
He admonished lay Christians to live up to their responsibilities by praying for their priests, as well as give them the support and good advice they needed to succeed in their vocation.
Pointing out that the anniversary was a time of retrospect for the priest, Fr Ezeoke, who is the parish priest of St Maria Goretti’s Parish, Umuona, prayed God to give the celebrant, the grace for right stock-taking to enable him to make amends where necessary and outshine as an ideal priest.
The Catholic priest, who equally spoke on the state of Nigeria, condemned what he described as bad ruler ship and administration of the current Buhari-led government.
Regretting that marginalization of people, banditry and destruction of human lives, among other vices, characterized the current Nigerian Government, Fr Ezeoke urged all to be on their guard for their lives, which, he said, were at stake.
In his remarks, the silver jubilee celebrant, Rev Fr Jude Chikadibia Okafor, thanked God for his grace, love and sustenance, for the twenty five years he had spent in the Catholic priesthood.
He prayed God to endow him with the grace and wisdom that would enable him to be a better priest for the Church and the people of God.
Rev Fr Okafor, who hails from Awka, Anambra State, was ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Awka on Aug 17, 1996. He is currently working as a pastor in the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, USA. The silver jubilarian served as a former parish priest of St Theresa’s Parish, Akpugoeze and a chaplain to the Benedivtine Word Incarnate, Akpugoeze.