By Kyrian Onyia and Alexander Onuorah
All roads seemed to be leading to Iwollo in Eziagu LGA of Enugu State, on the 6th day of November 2016, as the Priests, religious, lay faithful, friends and well wishers of Very Rev. Fr. John Ukeh and the good people of the Catholic community at Sacred Heart Parish, Iwollo, gathered to rejoice and thank God for His wonderful deeds. The Parishioners join the psalmist to sing “What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we are glad” (Ps. 126:3). As they welcomed His Lordship, Most Rev. C.V.C. Onaga on his pastoral visit, blessing of the newly ultra modern Parish House, the grotto of our lady of Fatima and the official welcoming of the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. John Ukeh into the Parish.
The historical event began with the holy Eucharistic celebration, officiated by the Bishop. He was aptly assisted by the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. John Ukeh and Very Rev. Fr. Edward Kanife and host of other Priests present.
Bishop C.V.C. Onaga in his introductory speech welcomed the gathered congregation. He however, tagged the theme of his sermon as “Our trust in the resurrection of the dead is our strength”. At the course of his homily proper, His Lordship made use of the significant number 7 (seven) relating it to the First Reading, taken from the book of Maccabees (2Mac. 7:1-2.9-14), and the Gospel Reading from Luke (Lk.20:27-38). He said that the number 7 as used in the Bible signifies accuracy or wholeness. The Bishop made use of the Igbo adage while advising the people of God to consider first the blissful life hereafter, said “Soso osisi ka asiri n’aga-egbu okwuru, mana o buru mmadu o tipu oso’’, meaning it is only tree that stands at a place even when threaten to be cut off, but human being will look for a solution or a way out when threaten to be killed. He said that if we strongly believe that eternal life awaits us in heaven as our Lord Jesus has promised us, hence, we should not be afraid of death or he who can kill only the mortal body. He admonished that the material things of this life will never gain us eternal life; therefore, we should not over struggle to acquire ephemeral things.
Still speaking, the Bishop encouraged all to remain steadfast in faith, no matter what. That death awaits all. He then asked the congregation to be firm in their faith and not to be afraid of death, because our faith in Christ Jesus with good work is the key to eternal life; and we must always take our prayer life serious. He also taught the congregation that a priest is the father of all, who leads everyone to eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Nevertheless, the Bishop also referred to the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. John Ukeh as one blessed by God with many gifts. He described Fr. John Ukeh as “a change agent”.
In conclusion, Bishop C.V.C. Onaga, thanked the people of God at Sacred Heart parish Iwollo for proper use of the resources, and urged them to keep it up. He again applauded the deputy governor of Enugu State, Her Excellency, Barr. Cecilia Ezeilo who was present at the Mass; and other government functionaries for their good work. He urged them to try their best in doing more in order to make Enugu State a dwelling place for all. Though the resources are not much, but they can still make good use of the little they have to better the lives of the citizenry. Also, speaking to the traditional rulers at the event, the Bishop thanked them for their efforts, and urged them to curb the incessant killings and the destroying of properties by the Fulani herdsmen
The Chief Shepherd finally, prayed God to bless and strengthen His own people; that we may run this earthly race and at last we all may gain eternal life, where everlasting joy abounds.
At this point, the traditional ruler of Iwollo Omasi Kingdom, HRH Igwe (Dr.) Okolo Raphael Obiora (Omasi II Iwollo Omasi Kingdom) stepped forward to officially hand over the health centre, Mary Mother of Mercy Maternity Home, Iwollo to the Church. This gesture accorded the applause of the Bishop and the people of the community.
The blessing of the newly erected gigantic Parish House and the grotto of Our Lady of Fatima by the Bishop followed shortly after the Mass.
Our correspondents gathered from the Parish Priest, Fr. John Ukeh in an interview that it has been a hard challenge since Nigeria went into economic recession, but the parishioners and the friends have been wonderful as they gave him the maximum support. He also revealed that it is inherent in him to do new things wherever he goes. He advised his brother Priests to always be in good term with the people entrusted to them, and that the intension of every donor must be respected.
Also in words with the newsmen was Engr. Okechukwu Igbonekwu,who single handedly built the grotto of Our Lady of Fatima at the Parish. He joyfully expressed that it was a promise he made to God. He urged all to shun selfishness, but emulate good deeds to the glory of God.
The Parish C.W.O. president, Mrs. Theresa Ejioffor also demonstrated happiness on the day’s event. She identified the Parish Priest is an exceptional person, who joyfully without minding the situation of things in the country embraced the great work in the Parish and successfully completed it. She gave God all the glory.