By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
The one year old plus Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), on Mission Sunday, added to history, her second dedicated church, when the Bishop of CADEK, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, in a well-attended ceremony last Sunday, April 25, 2021, dedicated the beautifully finished St Michael’s Catholic Church, Ngo, Igboukwu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, to be in totality, a holy place of prayer and worship for God.
Fides gathered that St Michael’s Parish Ngo, Igboukwu, which was created in 1986 with Rev Fr Paul Dimude as her pioneer parish priest, joined the league of dedicated churches on her 35-Year Parish Anniversary, with Rev Fr Jude Thaddeus Offodum as the current and eighth parish priest.
Leading in the concelebrated Solemn Dedication Mass, the prelate, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, in his homily, commended all through whom God built, renovated and completed the church building, for its subsequent dedication.
Bishop Okpaleke, who recalled that there was a time St Michael’s Parish, Ngo, Igboukwu was among the best in the Old Awka Diocese, appreciated all who contributed to the renovation of the church building so as to fit into the current standard and prayed for the repose of the souls of all who were part of the growth of the parish, but were not alive at the time of the dedication.
Basing his reflections further on the opening prayers for the solemn dedication and in Second Chronicles 7:12-16 in the Bible, the Catholic prelate prayed God to accept the church building as his dwelling place, open his eyes, ears and mind to the prayers which his people would offer to him in the Church, bestow his grace on the faithful, restore the dignity of man and restore sanity to the nation.
He described the holy place of prayer as a gate of heaven and warned those who would in any way desecrate the dedicated Church of the vengeance of God. This was even as he advised against social activities in the church.
According to him, a church was dedicated for the glory of God and salvation of mankind, and upon dedication became a holy dwelling place for God, a place of special presence of God’s immensity and a holy place of prayer for everybody.
The bishop tasked all to strive for holiness of life expected of them as temples of the Holy Spirit, model their lives according to the will of God and atone for their sins so as to gain God’s blessings on earth and in heaven.
During the dedication rites, the congregation that filled the big church building to the brim, stood in awe as the bishop anointed the altar and pillars of the church with Chrism Oil, and assisted by priests, incensed the altar and people of God, and lighted the church.
In his remarks, the host parish priest, St Michael’s Parish, Ngo, Igboukwu, Rev Fr Jude Thaddeus Offodum, thanked God for the successful completion of the renovation work in the parish which commenced in 2019, and the bishop for the dedication. He appreciated the Parish Pastoral Council, the Building Committee, the dedication committee, the entire parishioners and all who contributed to the success of the renovation and dedication of the church building for their sacrifices and goodwill.
The parish, in the address of welcome that was signed by the Secretary, Parish Pastoral Council, Mrs Chinyere Ezeobika and the Parish Priest, Rev Fr Jude Thaddeus Offodum, appreciated the priests who had served in the parish and the various supporters of the parish for their commitment and donations.
St Michael’s Parish applauded the parish priest, Rev Fr Offodum, for the courage with which he completed the renovation of reverend fathers’ rectory in 2018, and commenced the renovation of the church building in 2019.
Highlights of the event which had Chief Anthony Okafor as the chairman of the occasion were planting of the dedication tree, as well as donations in support of the parish and the new Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia.
Among those that graced the event were the Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial Zone, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, who was the guest of honour; the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Senator Uche Ekwunife, who was the Special Mother of the Day and the member representing Aguata Federal Constituency, Rt Hon Chukwuma Umeoji, who was the guest of honour.
Others were the Transition Chairman, Aguata LG Council, Hon Eche Ezeibe and the former Transcorp MD, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, who were also guests of honours. Senator Ubah, Rt Hon Umeoji and Mr Ozigbo, were represented at the event.