. . As St Michael’s Parish, Uga Continues to enliven her Aged
By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Old men and women from St Michael’s Parish, Uga last Wednesday stormed Fides Media, Okpuno, Awka, to get first-hand experience of daily activities in the place. The visit is part of efforts by St Michael’s Parish, Uga, Aguata LGA, to boost the lives of the aged in the community and give them the opportunity for graceful aging.
The parish, Fides learnt, formed a group known as St Bernard’s Association for their aged parishioners from 75 years and above.
In an interview with Fides when he led the aged, numbering over 20, on their 2019 Annual Outing and Excursion to Fides Media, the Parish Priest, St Michael’s Parish, Uga, Rev Fr Robinson Agbadugo, said the association was formed to give the aged the kind of care that would add joy to their lives and increase their life span.
Rev Fr Agbadugo said that he discovered from his sick call visits that most of the sick and aged were lonely, while some were often abandoned. This, he said, led the parish to form the St Bernard’s Association to monthly bring the aged together for health checks, medical care, sacraments and meetings which they often looked forward to with joy.
According to Fr Agbadugo, on the first Thursday of every month, the parish goes to the homes of the aged, especially the sick, and drives them to the church where the priest will hear their confessions and celebrate Mass for them. Then they meet and interact with one another.
‘The parish also invites a medical practitioner from UNTH, Enugu, who carries out medical checks on them and drugs will be given to those in need of drugs,’ Fr Agbadugo explained.
He said those below 75 years of age, paid for their drugs, while the parish, which also paid for the services of the medical practitioner through people’s support, paid for the drugs of those that had attained 75 years of age and above.
Fr Agbadugo, noting that many of the aged were taken care of by their well-to do children who provided drugs, foods and money for them, however said that many were lonely, hence the need for the monthly get-together for them.
The Parish Priest added that at the monthly get-together, the parish fed them with beverages, bread and sardines.
Fr Agbadugo stated that since 2016 when the parish started the apostolate, he had been taking the aged out on an annual outing /excursion.
According to him, in 2016 and in 2017, he took them to Onitsha where they prayed before the relics of the Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha, had a tour of the Basilica and also went to Shoprite where he gave each of them bread to take home.
The parish priest said that 2018, the parish, on the Feast of St Michael’s, brought the aged that had attained 75 years and above together and celebrated their birthdays for them at the parish.
Rev Fr Agbadugo, who said the visit to Fides was their best so far, said the 2019 Outing/Excursion of August 21 to Archbishop Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, Okpuno and to Fides Media Okpuno, was to celebrate his 15 Years Priestly Anniversary with the aged and also in celebration of the Feast of St Bernard which was on August 20.
On the reactions, he had observed from the old people, Fr Agbadugo said bringing them together monthly had been giving each of the aged utmost joy and hope, noting that the apostolate which he had wanted to continue with unpublicized, had been helping the physical and spiritual growth of the parish. He said it had increased the life span and number of the old people.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the chairman, Sir Julius Ezeonwumelu, described the monthly and annual exercises for the aged of St Bernard’s Association as what had been very beneficial to them, health wise and spiritual wise. He thanked the Parish Priest for the initiative and prayed for the sustenance of the association.
Receiving the Parish Priest and his team at Fides, the Director of Fides Media, Rev Fr Martin Anusi, commended Rev Fr Agbadugo and St Michael’s Parish for their initiative.
He described the apostolate as what should be encouraged, supported and emulated, saying that such care would make the aged healthier and give them reason to live longer happily.
Also speaking, the editor-in-chief of Fides, Jude Atupulazi, described the initiative of the parish as laudable and one that would surely elongate the lives of the parish’s aged and bring blessings to the initiators.