Catholic Faithful in Ekwulobia Region of Awka Diocese on Thursday, 13 April, 2017 joined their counterpart in the diocese and other parts of the world to mark the year’s Chrism Mass which manifests the unity of priests and the lay faithful with their bishop.
The chrism mass avails priests the opportunity of renewing their ordination vows and also presents a period for faithful in various dioceses to support ongoing projects in their diocese.
During the 2017 annual Chrism Mass and Cathedraticum held at regional headquarters of St. Joseph’s Pro Cathedral Ekwulobia on Holy Thursday, the faithful of Ekwulobia Region emphasized the need of supporting the Diocesan projects which they demonstrated through their massive gifts of Cows which were pegged at N50, 000 each alongside other gifts items by the entire parishes and institutions of the region.
Speaking at the occasion, the auxiliary bishop of Awka Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye who was visibly happy over the impressive gifts from the parishes, commended the faithful and their parish priests for their over-whelming support to the diocesan projects which according to him, would help the diocese in completing some projects.
He extolled the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Pro Cathedral Ekwulobia, St. Patrick’s Parish Isuofia and St. Anthony’s Parish Nanka who top other parishes and group with 75, 30 and 28 cows respectively.
Schools were not also left out as they throw their support to the diocesan projects. Leading in the school category was AUSTICA Memorial College; Nanka with 8 cows, followed by St. Peter’s Secondary School, Achina with 7 cows and Holy Child Secondary School, Isuofia with 5 cows.
In his homily to mark the celebration, the auxiliary bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye emphasized the need to get Peter University up and running. He called on the faithful to make lasting contribution for the diocesan university for the good of generations yet unborn. He identified the university as the most urgent and critical need of the diocese, saying that with its establishment, the diocese would be able to raise leaders of tomorrow who would be trained in line with the catholic faith and morals.
Speaking to priests, Bishop Okoye 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, saying that when priests backslides in their duties, the faith and spiritual life of the faithful become jeopardized.
On the forthcoming Diocesan Synod billed for 5-11 November, 2017, Bishop Okoye said it was a day set aside for the laity and the priests to discuss how to move the diocese forward and bemoaned the attitude of faithful in learning the prayer designed for the success of the synod.
He urged the laity to make inputs at their parish, deanery 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.
Speaking on the issue of expensive funerals, Bishop Okoye observed that the issue was one that affected both the rich and the poor. He commended the efforts of Anambra State House of Assembly on the issue of extravagant burials.
He said that the diocesan bishop had directed that there would no longer be production of brochures with effect from May 1, 2017, saying that a leaflet containing the picture of the dead, short biography and prayer would be allowed for catholic funerals.
He also said that two months time frame had been placed on burials and that if after two months, the bereaved was 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 adding that the ban did not affect Christian value of the dead.
In his remark, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral and Episcopal Vicar of Ekwulobia Region, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Onwuatuegwu thanked the various parishes and groups for their support towards the diocesan projects. He underscored the need for the region to join hands in the completion of St. Joseph’s Church building.
Highlights of the event were the blessing of the oil of Catechumen and sick as well as the consecration of the chrism oil which would be used for administration of sacraments in the diocese for the next one by Bishop Okoye who also conferred apostolic indulgence on the faithful.