Laity Council Awka Diocese led by the President, Comrade Emma Ezeokafor (3rd from left) with 5 Cows; Laity Council of Nigeria led by the National President, Barr. Chizoba Nnagboo (5th from left) with 4 cows and Laity Council Adazi Region with 2 cows coming for the Cathedraticum.
Catholic Faithful in Awka Diocese on Thursday, 13 April, 2017, joined their counterparts all over the world to mark Chrism Mass, with the Catholic bishop of the diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, exhorting priests to practice what they preach, reports Abuchi Onwumelu.
In his homily to mark the celebration at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Awka, Bishop Ezeokafor enjoined priests to practice what they preached as it was the primary job of any priest to win souls for Christ.
Bishop Ezeokafor who described the Holy Thursday observation as a spiritual reawakening moment for all and sundry, urged Christians to imbibe the spirit of prayerfulness and be steadfast in the pursuit of heavenly goals.
He urged priests to always see themselves as Christ's representatives on earth and also endeavour to carry out their assignments with utmost humility and responsiveness, noting that many families, individuals, groups and society at large, looked up to them for direction.
Bishop Ezeokafor admonished the Catholic faithful to be more intimate with the things of God and as well pay less attention to worldly things. This is even as he asked them to always pray for their priests, noting that they also needed prayers to survive the turbulent world.
The Catholic prelate who supervised the renewal of ordination vows by priests in the diocese, urged Christians to remain resolute in their faith in God.
He said after the renewal of ordination vows, priests must endeavour to live a life that reflected Christ in all aspects as they related with the people.
On the forthcoming Diocesan Synod billed for 5-11 November, 2017, Bishop Ezeokafor said it was a day set aside for the laity and the priests to discuss how to move the diocese forward.
He urged the laity to make inputs in their parishes, deaneries and regional levels, noting that their submissions would be thoroughly looked into and possibly considered, while assuring that the Synod would be an all-inclusive one.
Also, on the proposed Peter University situated in Achina, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, the Local Ordinary stated that a lot had been done at the site, with more still needing to be done. He urged the people to invest heavily in the project, especially in the area of infrastructure.
'My interest now is in the Peter University project. The only language I understand now is Peter Varsity project language. We need real money to carry out work there. You need to see how NUC officials who visited the site applauded us. They marvelled at the structures on ground. They appreciated us and then advised us on what next to do. We need your collective support. No amount is too big or small. We need urgent assistance,' Bishop Ezeokafor pleaded.
While commending donors to the project, he singled out the auxiliary bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, and his team, for special praise, describing their commitment to duty as unprecedented.
According to the bishop, the diocese was out to provide balanced education to children.
Speaking on the issue of expensive funerals, Bishop Ezeokafor observed that the issue was one that affected both the rich and the poor, noting that though everybody was complaining about the practice, nobody was ready to talk about it.
Appreciating God for the grace he had given some individuals to commence the process of reverting the practice, the prelate said that the issue of banning extravagant burials was one he was yet to receive a negative response to. He therefore expressed hope that the process would work.
He expressed joy that his was no longer the only voice in the wilderness, noting that a lot of people supported what he was doing.
The cleric said that Catholics in Awka Diocese were already on the move to fully implement the change, adding that for the change to work, traditional rulers, presidents general of town unions and the Church needed to cooperate.
The bishop applauded the lawmaker, Hon Charles Ezeani, and all associated with articulating the bill, for including all the extravagance of burials in the ban while announcing that Awka Diocese had already started implementing most of the ban.
He said that the Catholic Church had decreed that there would no longer be production of brochures with effect from May 1, 2017.
'What we allow is just a prayer card that may have the picture of the dead, short bio and prayer. Something portable and more affordable,' the bishop explained.
He also said that there was now a time frame for burials and that if after two months, the bereaved were not ready to bury their dead, the Church would no longer be part of the funeral process.
He observed that the practice of extravagant burials over tasked the people and therefore needed to be stopped.
He added that the ban did not affect the Christian value of the dead, which demanded that one expressed sorrow but with the hope of the resurrection.