Like a flock without a Shepherd is the perfect but painful simile that describes the fate of a vast number of Catholic faithful in Ahiara Diocese.Delegates from the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara celebrated the New Year festival with their Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Peter Eberechukwu Okpaleke at the Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre Okpuno, on Saturday, February 6, 2016. The delegates comprised of priests, religious, traditional rulers and representatives of the various statutory bodies in the Diocese of Ahiara.
In his homily during the mass, Bishop Okpaleke advised the congregation never to give up on the true faith especially in moments of great distress and persecution. Such moments as this, he pointed out, calls for more faith, just like the story of John the Baptist in the prison, St John of the cross and Paul Miki and Companions whose memorial, coincidentally is being celebrated on that day. Drawing from the gospel of the day, the prelate pointed out that he feels their pain as they are like the biblical flock without a shepherd. Finally, he urged them never to lose faith but keep on living in peace and unity with one another and supporting their priests, for the solidarity of the Christian faithful strengthens the shepherd.
In his opening remark during the short gathering/banquet after the mass, the chairman of the occasion, Eze S. P. Iwu described the Bishop as an answered prayer. He pointed out that the purpose of their visit is to tell the whole world that they have long accepted their bishop but bemoaned the ugly effort of some priests, religious and laity who keep spreading propaganda of hate and disobedience among them.
Accordingly, the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Ahiara, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Ebii, told the Bishop that the faithful in Ahiara Diocese are longing for his final coming home and has really missed him. On his own, Eze Desmond Oguguo pledged his continued support to the decision by the Holy Father. Other leaders of various statutory bodies in the Diocese voiced their strong support to the Bishop, stating that they can't wait for his final installation as their Chief Shepherd, stating that they are ready and willing to welcome him. The speakers included: Bro Bob Etet(KSM), on behalf of the Knights of St Mulumba, Bro Tony Agbakwuru, (KSM), Barr. Edwin A. Amaechi (KSJI), Chief Emeka Azu, on behalf of the Catholic Men Organization, Mrs. Dorathy Nwachukwu, on behalf of the Catholic Women Organization and Mr. Felix Ihediwa.
In his responds, Bishop Okpaleke thanked the delegates for making out time to visit him which according to him is a sign of love and support. He however advised them to avoid every form of violence rather, they should follow the decisions of the church with patience.