The Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, was agog Tuesday, September 4, 2018, when the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, turned out in their numbers to celebrate the Silver Jubilee Anniversary of the consecration of Most Rev. Anthony, J.V. Obinna., as the Bishop of Owerri Diocese.
The occasion was made unique by the prominent attention given to the down trodden and less privileged members of the society during the celebration. Over 1,000 of them were fed with food and drinks and given transport fares ranging from N500 to N1,000 depending on the distances they had to return to their various destinations.
The Alvana young voices entertained the audience, while the cutting of the Silver Jubilee cake by the Archbishop assisted by representatives of the less privileged featured after Mass. The entertainment of Christ faithful took place at the Obiri Odenigbo Pavilion. Among the highlights of the ceremony was the reading of Goodwill messages received by the Jubilarian. Pope Francis message came from the Papal Nuncio, While His Lordship, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia read the message from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Rev. Msgr. DR. Kevin Akagha read the one from the classmates of the Silver Jubilarian. The chief celebrant of the thanksgiving Mass was the Archbishop himself.
Earlier, while preaching the homily. Rev. Msgr. Anthony Njoku stated that the spirit of the jubilee: is not that of counting of one’s achievements or how good one has been, for “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3). He described Christian Jubilee, instead, as a celebration of God’s take-over of the jubilarian’s life. “Jubilee is a divine takeover, silver, golden and more perfectly at diamond. Msgr. Njoku said that jubilee is a celebration of God making a new beginning with us, explaining that God does not assist us, rather it is us who assist God to accomplish his purpose for us and liberating us from all that enslave us.
The homilist said, “Aware that God, in love, begins anew with us, a Jubilarian should make his own the words of St. Paul: “Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me… I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus” (3:14). Msgr. Njoku further stated: “For a Jubilarian, there is a new way of racing to a finish, not the old pride-ridden way where we falsely believe that we are doing the work and God is merely assisting us… Now he (the Jubilarian) knows from experience that God does 98% and he does 2% and so the Jubilarian must henceforth allow himself to be led by God.
Msgr. Njoku said, that for the past 25 years, His Grace, The Most Rev. Anthony Obinna as a bishop, has been living the priesthood of Christ among us, handing to us what he has received. The monsignor extolled the Archbishop for his self confidence, the founding of the Odenigbo Lecture Series, the renovation of the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, the excellent performance of mission schools etc among so many other achievements.