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 Catholic bishop of Awka, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, praying before the laying  of the foundation stone of Our Lady of Fatima at St John's Parish, Umuokpu.

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has laid the foundation stone of our Lady of Fatima at St. John's Catholic Church, Umuokpu, Awka South LGA of Anambra State.
The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday, December 27, 2017, during the feast day of St. John the Apostle, patron saint of the parish.  
Fides gathered that the grotto project whose groundbreaking was done on September 8, the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was embarked upon by the parish to commemorate the 2017 Marian Year declared by the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis.
Speaking at the event, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor commended the parishioners of St. John's for coming up with the grotto project, which he said, should go simultaneously with their church building project. He marveled at the zeal which the parishioners had been supporting various projects currently on-going in their parish. He encouraged them to be consistent in their support and ensure completion of the structures on ground, noting that their support to the church project was part of their heavenly race. He noted that the doggedness and commitment of the Parish Priest had brought more positive involvement of people in the parish affairs.
The Catholic prelate beckoned on the parishioners to imbibe the virtues of their patron saint whose feast day they celebrated.
He expressed optimism that the grotto when completed, would avail the parishioners the opportunity of developing a deeper relationship with Mary, the mother of Christ. He described the holy rosary as a tool for unprecedented answer to prayers, calling on all to develop a close relationship with Mary as it guaranteed her steady intervention in the affairs of mankind.
He warned against what he termed the different ridiculous names which people attached to Mary and called for a stop as it would attract divine curse upon such people by God.
For his part, the Parish Priest of St. John's Catholic Church, Umuokpu-Awka, Rev. Fr. Peter Chikelue, explained that the grotto on its completion would be very significant in the lives of the parishioners. He said that the parish had intended to complete the grotto on December 8, 2017, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, but was weighed down by financial constraints.
He noted that the laying of the foundation stone which coincided with the patron feast of St. John, the Apostle, was to mark the theological importance of Mary's meeting with John on the Cross of Calvary.

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