By Chioma Ndife
The Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Catholic Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, has commended the collective effort of the parishioners of St. Maria Goretti Parish, Umuona, Aguata LGA, Anambra State towards the completion of church project among other structures.
Bishop Okoye made the commendation last Sunday, January 12, during his pastoral visit to the parish where he administrated the Sacrament of Confirmation on over 145 deserving Catholic faithful.
Addressing the Catholic faithful at Umuona, Bishop Okoye noted that the rapid progress which the parish had recorded with the church building was a result of joint and committed efforts of members. He recalled the state of the church in 2019 when he came for the blessing of the church's sacristy and Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration which came through different individuals' contributions to the parish. He said that such commitment and togetherness would facilitate the speedy construction of the church project at hand in the parish for its dedication in 2020 in line with their plan.
Bishop Okoye disclosed the need for people to come up, either as individuals or group, and take up projects in the church, saying that such was in demonstration of one's faith in God. He appreciated the display of faith which the parishioners had shown through their support to the various projects in the church.
Speaking on what the Sacrament of Confirmation entailed, Bishop Okoye explained that the reception of the sacrament would portray them as Catholics following the teaching of Christ, listening to the teaching of the Church and obeying the laid down directives of the Church. He urged the confirmed faithful to live out true Christian lives and join others in winning souls for Christ, saying that the sacrament had conferred the status of Christ's soldiers on them.
The Catholic Prelate beckoned on the faithful to be strong in faith and not to allow anyone or act to intimate them in the exercise of their faith. He stated that strong faith in God was required for one to defeat Satan and all his antics.
In his remarks, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Anthony Mbonu, appreciated Bishop Okoye's efforts which, he said, had helped the parish to attain significant growth in the church building, saying that he had special love for the parish. He expressed optimism that the bishop's visit would yield untold blessings and progress to the parish.
Also speaking, the chairman of the occasion, Sir Fidelis Oguejiofor, noted that the bishop's visit would help Catholics in the community to grow in love, peace and other spheres of life. He appreciated Bishop Okoye for his directives which had been visible in the progressive growth the parish had recorded over time. He commended the cordial relationship existing between the parish priest and the priest in residence, noting that the parish priest had been benefiting from what he termed the elderly influence of the priest in residence in carrying out activities in the parish.
He tasked the parents of the newly confirmed faithful to help in nurturing the Holy Spirit which the candidates had received. He recalled how the confirmed candidates in his days separated into different pious groups for the growth of Catholicism in his days.
For his part, the chairman of the Pastoral visit Planning Committee, Sir. Celestine Akaolisa Ezeagu, said the visit was for spiritual welfare and upliftment of the Catholic faithful in the community. He expressed the hope that individuals who were raised to the status of Christ's soldiers by the bishop would contribute qualitatively and project the growth of Catholicism throughout the world in a bid to assist people depart from being neo-paganists to true Christians who had fervent love for Christ.
Confirmation of the faithful, welcome song and CWO match band display were some of the highpoints of the Pastoral visit.