…Celebrates 70th Birthday, 40th Priestly Anniversary
By Chioma Ndife
Adazi-Ani-born Awka Diocesan priest, Rev. Fr. Peter Elochukwu Eche,has said that propagating the Catholic faith, winning souls for Christ and remaining a priest, have been the greatest achievements of his 40 years journey in the ministerial priesthood.
Fr. Eche made the statement while speaking to Fides on his journey into the ministerial priesthood of Christ and what he had been able to impact in the Church and the people of God for the past 40 years of priesthood.
The 40th priestly anniversary which doubled with his 70th Birthday was in thanksgiving to God for sustaining the priest in his vineyard and enabling him to attain the age of 70, which, he said, was meant for the strong.
The celebration which was held at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Ifitedunu, Dunukofia LGA, Anambra State, on January 4, 2023 attracted the Catholic Bishop of Awka Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor; the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, Most Rev. Denis Isizoh; captains of industries and people from the various places where Fr. Eche had pastored.
He thanked God for using him to direct and re-direct the steps of the people towards the path of greatness and achievement of their ambitions, saying that it brought unexplainable joy to him.
The Catholic clergy identified himself as a vessel used by God to train people and bring back others who were going astray to ensure that they became the individuals whom society would be proud of. He noted that he was able to attain such feat through the inspiration and guidance of God.
Fr. Eche noted that the past 40 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 that came his way. He appreciated God for the gift of life and for calling him into the ministerial priesthood of Christ, among other various things which he 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 what he called the perfect interjection of Jesus and Mary. He reminded priests 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 could be achieved when they focused on their vocation as priests, disregarding earthly distractions.
He recalled how he fought for the faith in Nawgu during the time of Eddy Nawgu and his exploits, while at St. Mary’s Parish, Awka, and appreciated the grace of God that had been guiding him in his priestly life.
Leading in the Eucharistic celebration, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, thanked God for the gift of Fr. Eche to the diocese and noted that his unalloyed obedience to the Church had marked him out as a phenomenal priest. He urged him to keep being a shining light to younger priests in the diocese.
In his remarks, the Vice Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, Engr. Sir Elias Agwaekwe, stated that the anniversary was in thanksgiving to God for grace, 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 for more accomplishments. He described him as a humane individual who was always ready to render and assist his flock.
Highpoints of the celebration which commenced with a concelebrated holy mass that had over 70 priests in attendance, included the cutting of the jubilee cake, welcome song by the parish choir, and cultural displays, among other performances.