For the people of Obiti community in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Imo State, the pastoral visit of the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna in their community, Monday November 26 would continue to linger in their minds. It was a day religious and party divides were heartily defied as community members all rallied to welcome the Archbishop who was in the place to commission the newly built St. Lucy Secondary School Obiti.
Activities were electrified when the Archbishop arrived the school premises accompanied by the schoolchildren who ensured that march parade was not just their own contributive engagements to the event but also a worthwhile exercise to usher in a Chief shepherd, whose pastoral gesture of building a six classroom block would help them attain a quality post primary education in their land for the first time.
At the school playground where the event began with a Eucharistic celebration, Archbishop Obinna, while introducing the Mass took time to align himself with the good feelings of the people towards the school project. Enthused by the presence of the community’s traditional ruler, Eze Emmanuel Odunze, who was at the arena with his ruling cabinet, and their President General, Chief Justin Amadi, the metropolitan of Owerri thanked the people for the rousing welcome accorded him, particularly the gesture shown by the parading schoolchildren.
Just before he delivered the homily where he charged the people to see the event as a moment “To enter into a new community vista where peace, justice and progress hold sway,” the Archbishop who came to the place with a team of the Archdiocesan Education Board, led by the Director, Rev. Fr. Victor Eleba, Chairman, Chief Mrs. Theresa Okonkwo and the Archdiocesan JDPC Director, Rev. Fr. Gerald Njoku noted that such convivial spirit remains surest way to community development.
Speaking on the backdrop of the community’s continued sad news of criminal activities, Most Rev. Obinna who was at pains over the development called on the people, particularly the youths to turn a new leaf predicated on God’s ordinance. He cautioned them against secret and occult associations, stressing that those were nothing but “ephemeral things that lead to doom.”
Reminding them the need to engage in activities not inimical to social life, the prelate whose introduction of five sets of football into the arena created some comic interludes, observed while donating the five round leather games to both the students and community youths that “Sports are unifying factors which have brought youths and notable communities to stardom.”
At the end of the Mass just before the Archbishop led other dignitaries to commission the school building, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Jonathan Ezenwoke, who doubles as the School Principal and Parish Priest of St. Lucy Catholic Church Obiti, found time to reel out his welcome address to the Archbishop. The address timeout which included that of the Church Council and traditional ruler in their separate tones expressed joy that one of the yearnings of the community came to fruition with the event. The two later addresses went further to commend the leadership initiatives of the principal whose not-too-long arrival to the place they said has brought significant changes.
In a brief chat, some community members, mainly youths equally conferred their excitements over the new school. Bemoaning the absence of basic infrastructure and social amenities such as school, market, hospital etc in their home land, they revealed, while blaming the government over the negligence, that most of them who never had the opportunity of formal education “now see cultism as our own way of life. They thanked the Archbishop at whose instance they accepted to turn a new leaf, a resolve they kick started at the Mass when they came out to be prayed for.