It was a moment of joy and thanksgiving to God as Rev. Fr. Ambrose Chukwuemeka Ike celebrated his first holy Mass as a Priest of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, at his home Parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, Imerienwe in Ngor-Okpala LGA of Imo State on Sunday, August 9, 2015.
Fr. Ambrose presided over the Mass, assisted by the Parish Priest and Episcopal Vicar of Zone XI, Very Rev. Fr. Jonathan Ezenwoke, his curate, Fr. Francis Metu and Fr. Chukwunonyrem Akammadu.
Preaching the homily, Fr. Akammadu, pointed out that God has prepared the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders for the sanctification of the members of the Church. He called on the faithful to make every effort, more than they would in searching for earthly things, to receive the Holy Eucharist always, a priceless food which God had offered them at no cost.
The youthful priest opined that this bread from heaven (Holy Communion) dispels every sinful inclination from their hearts, helps them to avoid sin and increases their faith in God. He urged them to ask God to grant them the faith and the grace to receive that life-giving bread always.
Describing a priest as one who has dedicated his life for the sanctification and salvation of God’s people, Fr. Akammadu who is the Dean of Studies of Assumpta Minor Seminary, Naze admonished the new priest to live a holy and prayerful life in order to be a role model, pointing out to the new priest that the easiest way for a priest to fail was to neglect his personal prayer life.
The homilist, however, called upon the faithful to always support newly ordained priests to succeed in discharging their duties to God and his church.
Making remarks during the reception ceremony held for the new priest after the Mass, Mr. Augustine Ekechi, JP, who was the chairman of the reception, praised Rev. Fr. Ambrose for finally making it to the priesthood despite some challenges and commended the parish priest and parishioners for making the occasion a successful one.
Also speaking, during the reception, the Secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council, Mr. Cyril Okere showered praises on the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. Jonathan Ezenwoke for the innovation he had brought into the parish within the short period he has been in the parish, especially the renovation of the parish church house. According to him, the parish priest’s good evangelization skill was pronounced in his giving the parish every support that was necessary for the success of Fr. Ambrose Ike’s first Holy Mass.
Earlier in the Holy Mass, the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Fr. Ezenwoke, called on the parishioners to give their full support to the new priest who is also one of them. He thanked the Parish Pastoral Council whose chairperson is Mrs. Goodluck Onyekwe for their zeal, support and commitment to the church. The parish priest also thanked the Parish CWO President for St. John’s Station, Mrs. Theresa Ibe, who represented the Parish CWO President, Lolo Martha Nwaogu for their motherly care and support.
The climax of the reception was the presentation of a Toyota Avalon car and Mass Box by the parish to the new priest.
Speaking during the presentation, the chairman of the Ordination Committee and CMO President, Sir Chris Anuforo KSM whose committee’s secretary was Mr. Ethelbert Onyekwe praised God for the success of the programme and for touching the parishioners to give their full support to him and his committee. He also thanked the parish priest who he described as a motivator, for giving them the opportunity to serve the parish through the Ordination Committee.
Rev. Fr. Ambrose Chukwuemeka Ike was the second son and fourth child of late Mr. Jude Offurum Ike and Mrs. Eunice Eberechukwu Ike of Umuekeoji Umunakara Imerienwe.
He was ordained priest of the Holy Roman Catholic Church at Assumpta Cathedral Owerri on August 8, 2015 by Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J.V. Obinna, the Archbishop of Owerri.
He is the 12th indigenous priest of the parish. Other indigenous priests are: Very Rev. Msgr. Sylvester Nworgu, Rev. Fr. Anselm Ekeh, Msgr. Anselm Nworgu, Frs. Aloy Achonwa, Valentine Ugwuanya, Kingsley Awulonu, Eugene Okere, Chimezie Oguzie, Chika Opara, Jude Chukwu and Obinna Okere.
They also have four indigenous Religious Sisters: Rev. Sr. Charity Nkwocha, Chikozie Ekenwoko, Gabriella Ude and Maria Onyekwuo.
The history of Catholic Church in Imerienwe dates back to 1920 when the first station and a school was opened. After many years, the church gained parish status in 1959, under late Bishop Joseph B. Whelan as Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Parish, Imerienwe. The parish is also mother to four parishes: St. Theresa’s Nguru, St. Patrick’s Umuekwune, Holy Trinity, Orishieze, Obokwe and Umuikoro/Opelu and St. Mary’s Umuowa.
In an interview with our reporter, an elated parishioner said that this is the first time the parish collectively bought a car for a new priest; it used to be family affairs. He also observed what he called unity of purpose now existing in the parish as evidenced by the co-operation and solidarity shown by parishioners during the ordination. He commended their new parish priest for these positive developments.