. . . As Parishioners Gears up for Church Dedication, Calls for Facilitation
By Chioma Ndife
The Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye has described St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Ekwulobia as a parish that has future filled with hopes.
Bishop Okoye who made an official visit to the parish last Sunday, August 25, 2019, gave the description after a keen observation of the large number of young people who are practicing Catholics which the parish can boost of as their core parishioners among other spiritual growth which had been attained. He maintained that the presence of young people in any given life endeavour projects a future of continuity and expressed conviction that the young would take over from the old ones.
He advised the older parishioners to always leave good examples for the young ones to emulate, saying that living an exemplary life remains the way of teaching others.
He commended the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Longinus Egbonu for his contributions and efforts which has transformed the parish both spiritually and otherwise.
Bishop Okoye who administered the sacrament of Confirmation on over 130 deserving parishioners expressed optimism that the spiritual empowerment bestowed upon them will be judiciously utilized for the growth of Catholic Faith wherever the confirmed faithful find themselves. He likened the confirmed as soldiers who had been trained and empowered to fight for the sake of Christ and their faith. He beckoned on them to stand firm and defend the Christ and their faith.
He explained that each of the candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation became Christians at Baptism while the Eucharist propels growth in them and Confirmation makes them stronger.
Earlier in his homily, the Catholic prelate highlighted the benefits which Christians stand to gain by suffering with Christ and urged the parishioners to live lives of sacrifice for the sake of Christ as such would enable one to enter through the narrow gate that leads to heaven. He charged all on the need of winning souls for Christ.
The Parish, through the address of welcome presented by the Secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council, Bro Damian Eke disclosed her readiness for the dedication of the church building and maintained that such would be made possible through the facilitations of the Bishop. He pinpointed the improvements which the parish has recorded five months after Bishop Okoye’s last Visit when he blessed the Chapel of Divine Mercy and Consolation, financed single handedly by Sir Jonathan Ezeuchu. He noted that the improvements record was made possible through the instrumentally of the parish Priest and his Vicar.
The Secretary, through the address appreciated the bishop for his timely visits and assistance to the parish which was instrumental to the offsetting of the Peter University debt, wiring of the church and necessitated the placement of tabernacle in the parish.
Speaking to Fides, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Longinus Egbonu thanked God for the fair weather which helped to make the day’s event possible. He appreciated Bishop Okoye for his timely visits to the parish and disclosed that benefits which the parish stands to gain from the bishop’s visit.
Fr. Egbonu whose tenure in the parish would lapse in a month’s time expressed gratitude to God for his assistance in the projects carried out during his 6 years stay in the parish.
He disclosed that the renovation of the parish house, the ongoing church renovation which is nearing completion, the new Chapel of Divine Mercy and Consolation, an on-going three story building project, wiring among other unseen things were part of the things which God used him to actualize in the parish and beckoned on the parishioners to brace up for the work ahead. He called on them to give more support to the priest who would be given to them in no distant period for more achievement to be recorded in the Church.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion, Sir J A Ezeuchu disclosed the prospects which the bishop’s visit has for the parish. He pinpointed the various deeds which the parish had achieved through Bishop Okoye’s past visits to the parish, saying that such deeds had shown the bishop’s overwhelming love for the parish.
Presentation of gifts by the various pious societies, groups and zones as well as cultural displays were the highpoints of the celebration.