Bishop Ezeokafor poses with the concelebrants after the holy Mass.
It was a day of great joy and jubilation for the entire faithful of Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, Umuabani Neni, in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, on 6th August, 2017 as the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor carried out chains of solemn rituals aimed at dedicating their newly completed church building.
The joy of the parishioners knew no bounds as their faces were beaming with smiles and admiration as they assembled in their large numbers at the parish to witness the epoch-making dedication of the church that was elevated to a parish on 8th September, 2011 with Rev. Fr. Columba Okany as the parish priest. The dedicated church was carved out from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Umuabani, Neni.
The parish pastoral council/ the dedication committee present the keys of the church building to Bishop Ezeokafor.
In his homily, Bishop Ezeokafor thanked God for His mercy and love upon the Catholic Community in Neni. He commended the efforts of the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Columba Okany; the volunteers and benefactors of the parish and all who in various ways contributed to the success of the building project and assured them of God's blessings. He admonished the Faithful to shun any activity that will ruin the sanctity of the dedicated church as it stands out as a special place for worship.
The Chief Shepherd encouraged all Christians to seek for eternal reward by contributing towards the growth and development of the church of Christ. He also reminded the faithful that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the holy place where the Most High dwells, that as much as they spend time in caring and beautifying the building, so they must preserve the body of the human person which gives glory to the physical structure through prayer and holiness of life. If the building is beautiful and the worshipers are not, then the church is incomplete as the beauty of the worshipers shows the outward signs of the inward grace. Even as he urged them to maintain the culture of love and unity among one another.
The cutting of the event's cake.
In his remarks, Rev. Fr. Columba Okany , the parish priest who was visible joyous, acknowledged Bishop Ezeokafor for the dedication irrespective of the parish's debt to the diocese and for his paternal love and care towards the parish He also thank the priests, volunteers and benefactors, different societies in the church, friends and well wishers of the parish for making the event a reality and prayed for God's blessings on all.
Speaking on the event, the chairman of the occasion, Lion Chief Paul Muotolum commended the Chief Shepherd for his selfless services and assured him that the church will focus on the conversion of souls for Christ and also fight for evil and injustice in the community. He further urged the congregation to also support the growth of the mother parish. He finally called for financial support towards the offsetting of the parish's debt to the diocese.
The Knights and Ladies of the church pose with Bishop Ezeokafor; Msgr. BCB Muojekwu (1st from the right) and Rev. Fr. Columba Okany, the parish priest (1st from the left).
Highlights of the event include the sprinkling rite by the Bishop, a symbol of purification for the people, the altar and the building. The Bishop anointed the altar with sacred chrism oil making it a symbol of Christ and anointed the walls permanently which marked the building as a house of worship. There were also fund raising, presentation of awards to some parishioners for their outstanding efforts, musical display, presentation of gifts to the Bishop among others.