Prof. Celestine Onwuliri; A demise that would continue to live in our minds – Msgr Theo Nwalo


– As family commissions academic block for Major Seminary

prof._onwuliri_former_vice_chancellor_of_futoActivities slated to mark the one-year remembrance of Prof. Celestine Onwuliri who died in Lagos in the ill-fated Dana air crash which occurred on June 3rd, 2012 have been concluded with a memorial Mass at St. Jude’s Catholic Parish Amuzi Mbaise and the commissioning of a Philosophy Block built in memory of Prof. C. Onwuliri at the Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Ariam, Abia State on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June respectively. The Mass which witnessed a mammoth crowd of people who came from all walks of life had Msgr. Theo Nwalo, the Catholic Administrator of Ahiara diocese as the chief celebrant and assisted by numerous priests from different dioceses in the country.

Introducing the Mass, Msgr. Nwalo said “this event which has brought us here as one people with one faith is a demise that would continue to live in our minds for years to come.” He equally urged the people to be calm and take solace in the fact that Celestine Onwuliri lived a life that would surely make his name worthy to be mentioned in the Lord’s Book of Life.

Delivering a homily at the Mass, Msgr. Pius Kii from  Port-Harcourt diocese drew an inference from the wise sayings of John Doh- the great poet who said that “every death is a diminish to humanity” by this axiom, the homilist reflected that Nigeria as a country has been diminished by the catastrophic incident of the Dana air crash. But calling to mind that Prof. Onwuliri died in active service as a member of the National University Commission, he therefore advised Christians to take the scriptural words of Isaiah to heart when he said “the Lord God shall wipe away tears from all faces” With these words, the cleric made a passionate appeal on the needlessness of devoting precious time questioning God over the ugly incident of June 3rd. He believed that Christians should in good faith accept what has happened and prayed “never again for such death to befall on Nigeria”.

Turning to the Political leaders therefore, Msgr. Kii regretted the absence of good leadership in Nigeria which he said has bedeviled the country for so long. He advised those in position of authority to use their good offices in bringing hope and succour to the society and the people whom they have been entrusted to serve.

The clergyman further chided Nigerian political elites for gross selfishness and noted that selfishness has remained a cankerworm that has brought infectious wound in the developmental fabrics of the Nigeria polity. To buttress his point, the Papal Chamberlin wondered why our leaders would allow Dana air line to commence operation when the true cause of the plane crash was yet to be ascertained. He concluded by calling all well-meaning Nigerians especially the leaders to face reality and expedite actions in providing lasting solutions that would make Nigeria a safer place to be. He therefore assured the bereaved in the Dana air crash that their loved ones “are in God’s hands and nothing shall separate them from Him”

Acknowledging the presence of the numerous dignitaries who graced the occasion Prof. Lady Viola Onwuliri, wife of late Prof. C. Onwuliri, and the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked all whom she said strived in no small measure in making the one year remembrance of her husband a huge success. She also recognized the “benevolence and continued show of love” of Mr. President, Goodluck Jonathan for his untiring efforts in identifying with the family since the tragic death. The President  who  was represented at the occasion by Hon. Ministers of Science and Technology, and Water Resources, Eng. Bassey Ewah and Lady Dr. Sarah Ochekpe respectively, shortly before the Mass   performed a foundation laying ceremony of Library/Information and Communication Technology in honour of  late Prof. C. Onwuliri.

Meanwhile, on the following day (Sunday 23rd) the activities shifted to the Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Ariam, Abia State, where a thanksgiving Mass was held. At the end of the Mass, the Onwuliris commissioned and handed over a Philosophy Block built in honour of the late Mbaise-born erudite scholar to Most Rev. Dr V.V. Ezeonyia, the Catholic Bishop of Aba diocese who on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province received and blessed the new academic edifice.

Briefing the press, the Minister, Prof. Viola Onwuliri recalled that it was last year that her late husband, under the aegis of Friends of the Seminary pledged to support the institute through the erection of an academic block.  She therefore regretted that her husband, Prof. C. Onwuliri did not live to witness a cause which he started.  She thanked God that the family has succeeded in bringing the project to actuality on his one year remembrance.


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