By Chioma Nnagbo
The Umuinem born priest, Rev Fr Eugene Okoli fondly called Mkpume, on 30th December, 2018, celebrated his 25th priestly Anniversary at St. JohnBosco Catholic Church, Umuinem, Ufuma in Orumba North LGA of Anambra State.
Describing the celebrant, during the concelebrated Holy Mass to mark the Silver Jubilee, the homilist, Fr. Jovita Okoye, said that Fr Eugene is a priest for all, who is always available for the people. He commended him for his listening ear and ability to care for all. He went further to tell the people of Umuinem that they should cherish and appreciate their own priest. In conclusion, the homilist thanked God for the gift of Fr Eugene, the gift of priesthood and the gift of the Catholic Church and urged the people to always remember their priests in prayers.
Fr. Eugene Okoli was born into a family of seven from Mr. Rueben Eme Okoli and Janet Umuoke. Fr. Eugene’s Christian journey is unique because his father was an ardent believer in ancestral worship while his mother was a churchgoer in the Anglican Church. The mystery of his Catholic faith is a story to discuss and share with friends. On the day he was supposed to report to the seminary on January 4, 1984 was the same day his father died. The death of his father didn’t weaken him from becoming a priest rather it made him stronger in his faith.
Before he was ordained a transitional deacon in December 1992 at St. Mark’s Abagana, his mother and siblings who had remained protestant Christians, worked their way out and were received into the Catholic faith by Fr. Edwin Obiora at St. Mary’s Ufuma.
Fr. Eugene was ordained a Catholic Priest for Awka Diocese on August 21, 1993, and also served at All Saints’ and St Patrick’s Awgbu as Assistant Parish Priest and pioneer Parish Priest respectively. He has also had the opportunity to study and work abroad.
Fr. Eugene who was filled with joy, thanked all who graced the occasion especially the Priests and Religious who were present at the mass. In a special way, he thanked his mother Mrs. Janet Okoli (Egbe Oyibo), for her intervention and encouragement in the course of becoming a priest even when she didn’t like the idea. He also thanked his siblings and relatives and everyone who has come to celebrate with him.