St. James Catholic Parish Nnorie, in the Ngor Okpala LGA, last Sunday (Sept 24) received kudos for the excellent performance of the candidates it presented for the Sacrament of confirmation.
The commendation came from no less a personality, than the chief shepherd himself, His Grace Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, who was on a two-day pastoral visit to the church. The occasion was the Holy Mass for the administration of the sacrament of confirmation celebrated during the second day of his pastoral visit (Saturday Sept 23 to Sunday Sept 24, 2017). The essence of the examination in group and to randomly selected individuals, was to determine their readiness to receive the sacrament.
The Archbishop showered praises on the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Dr. Ishmael Iwuala and all those who assisted in the training of the candidates, who answered correctly all the questions they were asked. He however warned that since there is no limit to what need to be learnt, both those being confirmed, their handlers and sponsors should not rest on their oars.
The Prelate took the opportunity to deepen the knowledge of both the candidates and the rest of the congregation on the evils associated with some fetish practices among the Ndigbo such as the social discrimination rooted in Diala-Osu-Ume and Ohu belief and practices referred to “Njoekereigbo” He also condemned in the strongest terms fetish practices during burials such as “Okwukwu” Iwa Nkita anya etc. and warned, “The holy Mass is the greatest honour any departed Catholic can be given”. Adding, “If God has given you the grace to know him early in life, stop clinging to those practices which the church regards as fetish.”
In his homily, the Archbishop, who drew lessons from the gospel and other readings of that Sunday enjoined Christ’s faithful to be steadfast in faith from any stage in life the Lord calls them to serve him.
He assured the newly confirmed that the Holy Spirit they were receiving at confirmation was coming with varied spiritual gifts meant to drive away fear from their lives so that they would start from their families to spread the gospel. He also called for the spirit of charity among the people of God warned those who criticize hardworking Christians to turn a new leaf and advised Christ’s faithful to avoid places and persons that lead them to sin.
Mr. Hyginus Mbagwu and Mrs. Cynthia Okorafor sponsored the male and female candidates respectively, after they had declared openly their status as practicing Catholics confirmed by other parishioners. A total of 25 couples who had not yet wedded in the church enrolled their names for a wedding scheduled to come up on the third Sunday of October.
Speaking at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Dr. Ishmael Iwuala (Veteran Captain in the United States Army) thanked the Chief Shepherd for his visit, expressed gratitude to all who came to grace the occasion and thanked the various donors and committees.
The blessing of the Parish Perpetual Adoration chapel built under Fr. Iwuala followed at the end of Mass, before the reception.
In their welcome address, signed by the parish pastoral council chairman, Mr. Mbagwu H.N and Acting Secretary, Mr. Eleaya Cajetan, the council acknowledged the remarkable footprints left behind by their former parish priests since they became a parish nine years ago. The priests are: Rev. Fr. Stanley Ekwerike, Very Rev. Fr. Anselm Eke, Rev. Fr. Charles Onuoha, and Rev. Fr, Richmond Duru.
They placed on record Fr. Iwuala’s efforts at handling the challenges of the parish, which include: leading by example, execution of various infrastructural projects, such as suck-away pit, fencing of church premises, fixing of gates, painting of wall, facelift to the out station, St. John Akpure Nnorie and showcasing of Nnorie cultural heritage in agriculture.
They identified restiveness among youths, and re-roofing of their church building among challenges facing the parish. The reception featured presentation of gifts by various group of parishioners to the Archbishop, songs, calisthenics etc. Mr. Hyginus Mbagwu-led PPC and the planning committee, led by Mr. Ozurumba Agapetus, which included Mr. Nwakpu Augustine played crucial roles in the pastoral visit.
On the Archbishop’s entourage were: The Chancellor of the Archdiocese and Secretary to the Archbishop, Rev, Fr. Alphonsus Oha, Rev. Fr. Richmond Duru and Rev. Sr. Petrus Ezeonye, Mr. Paschal Ihemedu, Chairman Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Lady Stella Acholonu, Archdiocesan CWO president, Mr. Ikechukwu Osuoha, President CYON and Miss Onyeneke Theresa, President Archdiocesan Mary League.
Rev. Frs. Christian Eke, Canice Okere, Nnaeneka Njezi and Paschal Nwobasi were also present.