By Mercy Hill
Sunday 3 October 2021 was a day of joy and thanksgiving as the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, priests, parishioners, friends, and well-wishers of St. Francis of Assisi parish, Orofia, Abagana, in Njikoka L.G.A of Anambra State, gathered to mark the 12th anniversary of the creation of the parish as well as the conferring of award of honours to benefactors and benefactresses, and other worthy parishioners.
The event which took place at the church premises was also an occasion for fundraising to build the parish hall.
In his homily during the holy Mass, the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus C. Ezeokafor, talked on good upbringing which he said was all about training a child to be a good citizen and an asset to the church and society. He noted that parents must think of the ideal society and try to encourage their children to become this ideal. ”When there is a good family, there will be a good home and a better church”, the prelate said.
Talking about the growth of the anniversary of the parish, the Bishop likened the age of the church to the twelve disciples, who worked with Jesus before and after his death and resurrection to propagate the gospel and build the Church. In this light, he commended the parishioners and all the priests who had worked in the parish since inception, noting that they had all worked to see to the church’s growth and development.
He prayed the parishioners and all benefactors that they would reap the fruit of their labours in the vineyard of God.
In his vote of thanks, the parish priest, Rev Fr Cosmas Okafor, thanked God for the success of the parish since its inception. He thanked in a special way his predecessors, Rev Frs Boniface Ezeoke, Solomon Odunukwe, and their vicars- Rev Frs Peter Okonkwo and Sylvester Uchenna.
He appreciated Bishop Ezeokafor, for being present at the event and for his fatherly guide and prayers for the parish. He also thanked the Bishop for wishing all parishioners, the benefactors and benefactresses well in their endeavours.
In their welcome address, read by the Secretary of the parish Pastoral Council, Sir Ikem Onwuadi, the parish welcomed the Bishop and their guests.
They noted that the parish had, since its creation, been united and blessed with priests who had worked hard to ensure its growth and development. They said that most of the progress made in the parish was due to the love and unity that existed amongst them, explaining that the parish had built their church, a chapel, the rectory as well as a tower which was under construction.
They, however, solicited for help from the Bishop, noting that the parish was in need of a land to build the hall where all non-liturgical events would be held rather than using the church.
Speaking in an interview with Fides, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Sir Clems Ezedinachi, expressed obvious joy for the success of the event and he thanked all those who had contributed so far to the building of the church hall. He also thanked the bishop, and all dignitaries present for attending even in the midst of the insecure state of the country.
One of the awardees, Sir Vincent Onua (Ide St Francis), articulated his profound thanks to the church for counting him worthy of award of honours. Sir Onua explained that he was made the patron of Catholic Men Organization, later was given the title ”Ide St Francis” and now he was made the patron of St. Francis Parish. He promised to be a good ambassador of the church and never to fail her.
For her part, an awardee, Hon Lady Lovina Ogochukwu Nwankwu, thanked God for the opportunity to begin with the parish and now celebrate her 12th anniversary. She said the church recognized her as the mother of the day and gave her an award as a patroness of the parish. She assured that she would continue to spread love and kindness for the good of the Church and society.
Highlights of the event were the presentation of awards, fundraising, presence of dignitaries from civil, religious, traditional and political personalities, among others.