Bishop Okpaleke with concelebrants blessing the silver jubilinarian
The Catholic Community of Adazi Nnukwu in Anaocha LGA was agog on Sunday, 27th August, 2017 on thejoint celebration of the rededication of her mother church and the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye.
The church which was founded in the year 1923 by Rev. Fr. Albert Bubendorf,has become a center of tourism for all and sundry. Record has it that the church gave birth to the present Awka Diocese and other neighboring dioceses.
Bishop Okoye was born on 25th of January, 1963 and had his primary education at the school in his home parish, St. Andrew's Primary School. He served as altar server under Rev. Fr. Miniham which triggered his inspiration into priesthood. Parishioners of various parishes where he served have testified of his humane characteristics especially in Oko, Ekwulobia, Amawbia and Awka where he served as parish priest.
The month of August is so special to Bishop Okoye because he was ordained 29th August, 1992, had his Episcopal ordination August 29th ,2014 and his silver jubilee celebration August 27th, 2017.
Just the same way we have monkeys in the jungle and fishes in the water in the same way Bishop Jonas has his fulfilling moments and challenging moments. In an interview with Bishop Okoye few days ago before the celebration at Fides, he revealed that his greatest fulfillment in priesthood is working together with his superior and the good people of the Lord. He said he is challenged by the way and conditions of people, especially in the process of elevating their educational and social welfare.
'I take time to visit the poor and to elevate them physically. It is not about so much wealth you have but having the basic necessities in life'.He added
When asked about what keeps him going, Bishop Okoye said that he derives strength from'2 Corinthians 11 vs. 23-32' and his inspiration from reading books especially on the heroic life of Saints.
'Being a bishop is a time to be vigilant because most times you are being misquoted' the Bishop added.
The event was graced by the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most. Rev. Hilary Okeke and the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese, Most Rev. Ebele Okpaleke who was the homilist of the occasion. Bishop Okpaleke centered his message on the importance of dedication and celebration of fulfillment. He reminded the faithful of God's love, blessings and mercy upon them. He explained the essence of interior and exterior recollection in the church and its consequences if not properly managed. Bishop Okpaleke pinpointed that the Church was a gateway to heaven and therefore, all the Christians should be willing to participate fully in the growth of the church directly or indirectly.
L-R; Rev Fr. Mike Onwukike, Bishop Hilary Okeke of Nnewi Diocese, Bishop P.C Ezeokafor, Most Rev. Jonas Benson, Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese,Chief Sir. Gabriel Anetoh, Chairman of the occasion, Mrs Uju Nworgu, Commissioner for Youth Entrepreneurship ans Sports.
He beckoned on the Silver Jubilee celebrant to never look back nor regret his vocation and never surrender in times of trials and temptations.
In the address of welcome by AdaziNnukwu Catholic Community presented by the Mrs. Gloria Maduelosi, Secretary to Central Ordination Committee, at the occasion, personified Bishop Okoyeis portrayed as a true Pastor who would trade his life in exchange for his flock and thanked God for using hin to ensure spiritual and infrastructural growth in the parishes he had worked. Also Rev. Fr. Michael Onwukikewas appreciated for his tireless efforts in the spiritual and numerical growth of the church. In a special way, they remembered great people and priest who have worked in the parish among whom was Rev. Fr. Innocent UgoMary Obidiegwu.
A grand reception proceeded after the mass which was chaired by Chief Sir. Gabriel Anetoh, who welcomed all dignitaries, friends, well wishers to the occasion.
In his vote of thanks, the celebrant, Bishop Okoye, thanked all who came from within and outside the country to celebrate with him. He specially thanked BishopEzeokafor for his support and many who donated to towards the growth of the church.
Filled with the bubbling aura of the double celebration, the Parish priest Rev. Fr. Michael Onwukike during his vote of thanks appreciated the Bishops and thanked the parishioners for their willingness and great support towards the rebuilding of the church building.
Cutting of the celebration cake
Other friends and well wishers at the event include the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano represented by the State Secretary, Solo Chukwulobelu; the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; former minister for Aviation, OsitaChidoka, Commissioner for Youth Entrepreneurship and Sports, Uju Nworgu; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Greg Obi, and CEO of Chelsea Hotel, Patrick Chidolue,
Some others were; former SON chairman, IkemOdumodu; Chairman of Awka South Local Government, Leo Nwuba, Traditional ruler of AdaziNnukwu, AuustineObiekezie; Onowu of AdaziNnukwu, Emmanuel Ugwumba and OnowuNeni, Anthony Enukeme and many other traditional rulers and their cabinet members.
Other highlights of the event were dance presentation by Ofuobi age grade, exchange of gifts and pleasantries and many more.