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March 23, 2017

Archbishop Obinna reopens Parish shut for 9 months

St. Joseph Catholic Parish Church, Awarra which was abruptly shut down since Good Friday, 25th March, 2016 has been reopened by His Grace Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri on 16th December, 2016. Arising from the mass slaughter of certain individuals and threats on the life of the parish priest and associate, the parish premises and its environs were deserted by inhabitants who fled from their vicinities to prevent being hurt by rampaging cult groups that had taken over the area and became a thorn of flesh of security forces and the natives.

Leading a conglomerate of priests, religious and lay faithful from the archdiocesan secretariat to reopen the parish for liturgical celebrations, the Archbishop, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna arrived the crisis-torn communities and was received by anxiously waiting parishioners who had been longing for the resumption of normal parish activities after the ill-fated events that resulted to the exit of their pastors from the parish centre.

Commencing with a prayerful introduction inside the parish church, the Archbishop invited the congregation to penitence as he noted that over the period spanning from March through December, several persons may not have had opportunities of sacramental confession and as such may also have stopped going to communion as a result of lingering sins. The penitential service which followed lasted for about 40 minutes before Holy Mass was celebrated for and with the parishioners.

In the homily during the Mass, Archbishop Obinna harped on the consequences of sin which he said results to death as has been witnessed both on recalcitrant youths and on some innocent persons. He remarked that it was as a result of greed and inordinate desires and power tussle between individuals and groups that have become cultic and occultic that Awarra Court Area and its environs have been in the news lately for bad reasons. He reminded the congregation of his last formal pastoral visit to the parish wherein he explicitly told the people to accept God’s message of salvation and be spiritually and educationally formed so as to profit from the exploits of the current times. He prayed for the forgiveness of all who had contributed to the problems and hardship of the people and declared a new beginning for the Court Area and the parish exhorting the people to give peace a chance as that is why we have Christmas.

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The Archbishop who later handed over 20 bags of rice and other items which were shared to the faithful present at the event also invited the government to join force with the multinational organisations operating in the area to rebuild the damaged communities.

It would be recalled that the oil rich communities in Ohaji/Egbema L.G.A. have been in the news for several years now due to the unwelcome activities of certain individuals who operated under the aegis of cultism to kill, maim, steal and burn properties of fellow natives. To prevent themselves from being hurt or endangered, many persons and their families went on self-exile from where they operated for a few years now. Several persons had been killed and properties worth millions of naira lost to the crisis.

With the prayerful pilgrimage of the Archbishop to St. Joseph Catholic Parish Awarra and the goodwill of several Holy-Spirit filled persons for a stop of the carnage and incessant attack to life and property, it is expected that a new dawn has come for the Court Area and for the parish.


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