It was jubilation on Sunday, October 14, 2018, as the Catholic community of Sacred Heart Parish Akwakuma, Owerri Archdiocese commissioned their ultra-modern church gate.
The new church gate sprang up from the ruins of their former gate destroyed by Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration in the process of expanding the Orlu road in line with his urban renewal project.
Commissioning the new gate, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Dr. Kevin Ugoamadi recalled the tears and anguish visited on the parish by the Imo State Government which bulldozed the former gate with its beautiful signpost and 18 lock-up stalls in June 2016.
He said that despite efforts made by the parish for compensation not even a kobo was paid the parish by the state government.
Fr. Ugoamadi stressed that the new gate which cost millions of naira was erected through the generosity of parishioners and his personal sacrifices.
“I will always commend the people of Akwakuma, especially the Catholic community for their generosity. From their meager resources, we are building an ultra-modern church; from their open heartedness, we upgraded the hall which now serves as our place of worship, pending the completion of the church, and from their goodness, we built the best church gate in Owerri Ecclesiastical Province.”
He used the opportunity to appeal to the people of Akwakuma to upgrade their magnanimity by co-operating with the parish in its effort to take over the primary school located within the church premises for the good of the church and community, reminding them that the church remains a better developer than any other institution.
He described the new gate as the gate of peace, gate of life, gate of solidarity, and a gateway to an inner sacred space.
Fr. Ugoamadi thanked the Nze Orji family who built the demolished gate. He commended the former chairman and members of the Parish Pastoral Council, for the good work they did. He also praised the present Council, the Presidents of CWO, CMO for their support, the chairman and members of the Works Committee for the excellent work they did in the erection of the ultra-modern gate.
The blessing of the new gate began with a concelebrated Mass presided over by Fr. Ugoamadi, assisted by Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Okoro, Parish Priest, Mt. Carmel Parish Emekuku.
In his homily, Fr. Okoro stressed the importance of a church gate, stating that gate is not only for protection, it is also a place of healing, recalling how Peter healed the lame man at the beautiful gate (Acts 3: 1-2).
He described Fr. Ugoamadi as a builder; with a burning zeal for spiritual and infrastructural development, adding that Akwakuma community may not appreciate him now, but in the future.
Reflecting on the Readings of the Day, Fr. Okoro called on couples to love each other no matter the circumstances and live exemplary life worthy of emulation by their children.
The priest who spiced his sermon with rib-cracking jokes said America can be our model in science and technology but certainly not on marriage and communal life. He commended Africa’s communitarianism, which emphasizes the responsibility of individuals to the community and the social importance of family unit as opposed to Europe’s individualism. He challenged husbands to look after their mother and father in-laws, same with wives, adding that the Bible said a man shall leave the parents but did not say they should abandon them.
The blessing of the new gate was witnessed by friends of the parish including, Mrs. Uju Nwaiwu, the Docas of Assumpta Parish Owerri.