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Assumpta Cathedral Administrator extols St. Maria Goretti Prayer Group

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Members of St. Maria Goretti Prayer Group,  Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, during the feast.

Members of St. Maria Goretti Prayer Group, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, during the feast.

It was a day of thanksgiving, socialization and fellowship on the 7th day of July, 2013 as the St. Maria Goretti Group, one of the prayer groups in Assumpta Cathedral Parish, Owerri celebrated her annual feast day.  The well attended ceremony started with a Holy Mass presided over by the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Andrew Nkwocha who congratulated St. Maria Goretti Group for their active participation in church activities and prayer life.  He commended the prayer group anthem: St. Maria Goretti, anyi abiala (3x) buru ekpere anyi bugara Chukwu.  The anthem was composed by the foundation President of the group, Nneoma (Lady) Bernadette Njoku.

The second part of the ceremony featured a talk by the Patron, Prof. (Lady) Victoria Nwigwe, a Papal Knight of St. Sylvester (KtSS) and Emerita Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family (PCF), Vatican, Rome (1988-1994).  In her address, Prof. Nwigwe reviewed the life and times of St. Maria Goretti, a peasant girl who at a very tender age of twelve opted to be stabbed several times to death than lose her chastity to an assailant who wanted to rape her.  St. Maria Goretti professed fully her faith in God.  For her love of Jesus, she preferred death.  She is today a Martyr venerated all over the world in all Catholic churches, institutions and prayer groups now and in generations to come.

Prof. Nwigwe stated that chastity which is the virtue Maria Goretti exhibited is the motto of St. Maria Goretti Prayer Group.  Chastity, she said is a cherished virtue in every decent home and in tradition, stressing that a married woman should maintain this virtue by living up to the tenets of the sacrament of matrimony – the sacramental marriage vow demands that a wife keeps her body for her husband only and in that way remains chaste.  Chastity is a virtue for both young and married people.  Adults can be chaste for life, she admonished.

She urged the audience to give more time and attention to their husbands and children moreso at this time when crime rate in the society is on the increase.  Parents should shield their children and wards from the enslavement of modern communication gadgets by moderating the television and video programmes and the times of viewing as well as monitor the sort of literature the children read.  Pornography in the mass media is a major factor in the recent alarming rate of sexual violence in the society.  It is shocking and terrifying as one reads almost in all newspapers on daily basis shameful cases of sexual violence on children and women alike.  It is more worrisome when government seems to treat this crime wave in society with kid’s gloves; prescribed punishments for such crimes are not effectively enforced.  This is why these crimes are on the upsurge.

She therefore pleaded with mothers and families to intensify their prayer life so that the society may turn to appreciate the innocence, beauty and sacred virtues that characterized families and society of yesteryears and change for better.

She posited that our homes should be real homes and not just houses.  Homes where love, respect for human dignity and discipline reign supreme rather than the contemporary quest for materialism that engender societal vices and risks to human life and dignity.

Speaking at the occasion, the Assistant Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Augustine Opara praised the women for their devotion as a prayer group.  He acknowledged their hard work in involving their young ones in the group activities.  He admonished them to instill in their children right from the young ones the love for Igbo language by using Igbo to communicate in the homes.  He advised them to invite their husbands in future feasts celebrations.

The President of the group, Adaoma (Mrs.) Mercy Iwe expressed her joy and happiness at the success of the occasion and thanked all who contributed to the success especially her Vice-President, Lady Victoria Egbulefu, the Chairperson of the 2013 Planning Committee, Mrs. Ngozi Amaraegbu and her team.  Special thanks were given to Rev. Fr. Augustine Opara for sharing the day with the group and for his advice to the gathering; to the Patron, Prof. (Lady) Victoria Nwigwe, for her usual support and continuing education of members of the group.  Prof. (Lady) Nwigwe belonged to St. Maria Goretti’s House in her school days and has since then held on to the devotion. The President also thanked the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion and a foundation member of the group, Hon. Barr. Ugochi Nnanna-Okoro, Imo State Commissioner for Community Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for her support and interest in the group and promised her of the group’s goodwill and prayers for God’s guidance and protection as she achieves success in her ministerial duties and on the home front.

Among the highlights of the occasion were the display of St. Maria Goretti dance and the cutting of the ceremonial cake.

 

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Covid-19 robs 2020 Owerri Archdiocesan Day/Odenigbo lecture of usual festivities

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2020 Odenigbo with Archbishop Obinna

…Half a loaf better than no bread at all – Archbishop Obinna

By Emeka Ani

The usual pomp and pageantry that characterize the Owerri Archdiocesan Day/Odenigbo lecture did not feature this year due to Covid-19 pandemic, thus leading to a low-key celebration.

Not only that the usual lecture did not hold, the “Odenigbo Eve,” which usually involves a variety of cultural entertainment, including dances, drama, singing and wrestling contests did not feature at all; Covid-19 emebiela ihe!

But according to Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Catholic Archbishop of Owerri and founder, Odenigbo lecture series, who filled the gap created by the absence of this year’s lecture, “kama ehi mmadu ga-agbafucha, o ka mma igbubiri ya odu”. (It is better to accept less than one wants or expects than to have nothing at all.)

The Owerri Archdiocesan Day is an annual celebration to commemorate the 1994 elevation of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri to an Archdiocese. The celebration began in 1996.
According to Archbishop Obinna, the “arch-ness bestowed on the diocese was an invitation challenge to root the gospel of salvation deep into our lives and culture, to purify, rectify and sanctify every part of our culture, to reject what is evil, harmful and inhuman therein.”

This year, the Archdiocesan Day, which was held on Saturday September 5, began with a thanksgiving Mass as usual at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri. It was presided over by Most Rev. Anthony Obinna assisted by the Catholic Bishop of Aba, Most Rev. Augustine Echema and the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe, Episcopal Vicars and several priests.

The Cathedral, unlike in the past was half-filled following directives by the Archdiocese that only those invited would be admitted to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 protocols, especially physical distancing.

In his homily at the Mass, Bishop Echema described Owerri as a special Archdiocese that produced two bishops in one year; a reference to the appointment of Bishop Chikwe and himself in 2019.

Commending Archbishop Obinna for establishing Odenigbo lecture series, Bishop Echema highlighted the importance of native language, saying there is correlation between language and culture.

Bishop Echema emphasized the importance of native language in evangelization and advised ndigbo to take Igbo Language seriously, speak Igbo, write Igbo and dream in Igbo, because “when one dreams in a language, it shows that one understands not only the language but also the culture of the people.”

The thanksgiving Mass was followed by fund-raising for archdiocesan projects especially the building of a new Archdiocesan Secretariat, a minor seminary and a monastery, after which the faithful relocated to the Obiri-Odenigbo for refreshment and a talk in place of the 2020 Odenigbo lecture which was to be delivered by Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Papal Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago. Because of the coronavirus and the total lockdown, the lecturer could not arrive Nigeria for the lecture, titled: Otu Chukwu: Otu Obara, Mbikozi Umu Mmadu. The lecture has now been differed to 2021.

However, in its place and to ensure this year’s Odenigbo is not totally a failure, Archbishop Obinna delivered what he called a “Talk” but eventually became a lecture. He titled it: ODENIGBO: ENYEMAKA PURUICHE N’IJI ASUSU IGBO EZISAZI – ANABATACHA OZIOMA KRISTI.

In the 57-page lecture, which he delivered with the same vigor and vitality as he did in 2000 when he delivered that year’s Odenigbo lecture – “UJUNWA: Anuri Uwa Niile,” Archbishop Obinna, explained that the need to intensify and expand the saving work of Christ among ndigbo and within the Igbo religio-cultural context through Igbo Language gave rise to Odenigbo.

He commended the white missionaries for bringing the Goodnews of salvation to Igboland and elsewhere even though they did not give much attention to the use of Igbo Language in evangelization, apart from the Catechism and other publications like Ndu Dinwenu Anyi.

Archbishop Obinna recalled with nostalgia, a historical event which took place on September 20, 1970 during the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Mark Unegbu at Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Emekuku.

“That day was unforgettable in the use of Igbo Language and Igbo music and instrument to celebrate Mass. For the first time, since 1885 Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Otito Diri Chineke n’elu kacha elu) was sung in Igbo (instead of Latin) with Igbo instrument amid jubilation.

Describing Christ as Odenigbo, Odenuwa, Amarachi Obinna said, he (Christ) has freed ndigbo from ancient and modern fears, occasioned by traditions and customs that terrorize and hold ndigbo captive.

Concluding the lecture, he observed that the modern darkness we see today is based on stupidity and pride, when some people want to recreate themselves, do whatever they like, without fear of God or man because of greed, modernity, science and technology.

“We had thought that the end of Nigeria-Biafra war will bring peace to the country but unfortunately there is still fear and anxiety in Igboland and Nigeria, people are living in fear, the world is living in fear.”

For man to have peace of mind and live in peace, in a world full of fear, the lecturer said there was need for us to receive the light of Christ and gift of the spirit; take the word of God seriously and live a life of humility, devoid of pride based on academic qualifications, scientific and technological discoveries and material acquisitions.

“These will give way to a life of humility, love and mercy and the beauty of the world created by God will manifest in you and in the society.”

“It is only in the gospel message of Christ – who is Odenuwa and Odenigbo that one can proudly say; “The world is beautiful (Uwa Amaka), he said.

In a vote of thanks, the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe said the standing ovation that greeted the Archbishop’s special lecture was a proof that the talk was well delivered and well received, adding that the Archbishop is always at home with Igbo Language.

The takeaway of the lecture, according to Bishop Chikwe, was that Igbo Language is beautiful and its beauty was rooted in Christ, the Odenigbo, who is neither white nor black.
Though Mbem Odenigbo (Odenigbo Anthem) and Ekwe Odenigbo did not feature at the lecture, the cultural dance by the CWO of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Egbeada entertained the audience, thus giving the occasion a semblance of Odenigbo celebration.

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HRH Eze Peter Opara inaugurates cabinet

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HRH Eze Peter Opara  inaugurates cabinet

…As traditional leadership gets boost at Umunumo Ancient Kingdom

By Magnus Ibe

The Traditional leadership of Umunumo Autonomous Community, Ehime Mbano LGA of Imo State received a resounding boost on Sunday August 23, as the cabinet members were formally inaugurated by HRH, Eze Peter Chima Opara (Eze Udo II).

The assemblage of top brass personalities into the cabinet is indicative of robust prospects for the growth and development of the Ancient Autonomous Community.

Inaugurating the members of the Eze-in-Council, the Royal Father charged the inductees to shun personal interest and put the community in the front burner for a rapid transformation and development. He enjoined the cabinet members to be proactive, articulative and dogged about the welfare of the community, employment and empowerment of the youths so that a new chapter is enacted.

According to him, many are called, but few are chosen. He charged them to move the community to the next level by articulating right attitude and formulate policies that will accelerate the development of the community. He cautioned against indolence and insubordination that can retard the unity and development of the community.

HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara with Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu and other priests

HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara with Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu and other priests

In his remarks, the President-General of the Town, Chief Godwin Uwah working in synergy with the royal father advised that the various Town Unions leadership should synergize and work in one page with the cabinet members. Chief Godwin Uwah observed that membership of cabinet is subject to review every four years.

Among the cabinet members comprise Chief Godwin Uwah PG, Sir MCN Asawalam (KSM), Chief Chidi Ogueri, Chief Sir Emmanuel Ibe, Chief Aloka Alexander, Nze H.D. Eze, Mr. Emeto K. Michael, Nze Godwin Amaku, Mr. Columba Ohazurike, Chief Mel Daimeon Osuji (Omereoha), Hon Ononamadu Emeka Joseph, Chief Peter Crown Duru, Chief Romanus Ogueri, Comrade Godwin Ihekwoaba, Nze Romanus Chukwu, Nze Vincent Ukah, Chief E. Evaristus Okafor, Chief S. Okele, Nze Clement Iwueze, Hon Felix Iwuji, Chief S. Obikaonu, Hon Kelechi Iwueze, Mr. Joseph Obi Onyema (Deputy PG), ACP H. Agbiogwu, Chief M.C. Okoro, Nze Nneji Boniface, Nze Charles Nwokoro, Nze Edmund Nwokeke, Chief Joseph Anosike, Chief M. Dingwo, Chief Columbia Isikuma, Chief Oliver Agbaso, Ichie Bernard Nwohiri, Nze Titus Iwunze, Chief Romanus Ijejiobi and all village chairmen constitute members of the enlarged cabinet. HRH Eze P. Alozie, Abunumo I graced the event.

In a vote of thanks, Chief Mel-Daimeon Osuji, promised on behalf of the members of the Eze’s cabinet to live above board like Caesar’s wife. He observed that he was humbled to speak on behalf of the top brass personalities who constitute the Eze-in-Council and also made a personal donation of one million naira.

Centre: HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara (Ezeudo II) with the cabinet  members, Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu & Eze & Ugoeze P.O. Alozie (Ebunumo I)

Centre: HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara (Ezeudo II) with the cabinet
members, Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu & Eze & Ugoeze P.O. Alozie (Ebunumo I)

In his contribution, Hon. Emeka Joseph Ononammadu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Enugu State, who is also a member of the cabinet made a mouthwatering financial support and others including Sir. M.C.N. Asawalam donated handsomely.

Inducting the new cabinet members, Msgr. Jerry Ofoegbu prayed for God’s guidance and wisdom for the Royal Father and the cabinet members.

He eulogized the royal father for putting God first in his nascent leadership. He admonished the PG and the members of the Eze-in-Council to ensure peace and unity in their various domain. He spoke against injustice, insubordination and manipulative divisive tendencies that will sow seed of discord in the community. He prayed God to bless the royal father with the Wisdom of Solomon.

Msgr. Ofoegbu prayed for longitivity, peace and development of Umunumo Ama-Iri community. He cautioned against sectionalism and maltreatment of widows, orphans and the less privileged in the society.

Traditional cuisine of palm wine, Ugba with stockfish and other local delicacies were served to all and sundry. Eze & Ugoeze Ekwunno, Eze Umuezeala Oguara graced the event amid pomp and pageantry.

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St. Michael’s Choir Umuaro wins singing competition

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St. Michael's Choir Umuaro wins singing competition
By Magnus Ibe

Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu presided over the activities heralding the Silver Jubilee anniversary celebration of Rev. Sr. Mary Ifechukwudere Emeribe which kicked-off at St. Charles Parish Umunumo, Ehime Mbano LGA Saturday August 29, with worship and praises to the glory of God with a singing competition among four parishes.

Msgr. Ofoegbu, the Dean of Ehime Deanery expressed profound gratitude to God for His mercies and goodness culminating in the silver jubilee anniversary celebration of Rev. Sr. Emeribe of Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy congregation (DMMM) who is billed to mark the 25th year anniversary celebration of her profession in December.

The event was graced by Rev. Frs. Paschal Nwaobasi, Boniface Edomobi, Nnamdi Anyanwu, Andrew Agbiogwu who extolled the Silver Jubilarian for keeping faith and for being involved in the spread of evangelism. He appreciated her niece for commencing her celebration with the singing competition among the parishes in her home Umunumo community.

The competing parish choirs included: St. Charles Parish Choir Umunumo led by David Ohaeri, St. Ignatius Parish Choir Ibeafor Umunumo led by Okorie Damian, St. Michael’s Parish Choir Umuaro-Umunumo headed by Jim Nnorom and St. Theresa’s Parish Choir Umuoma Nzerem led by Fidelis Osuji.

In her remarks prior to the commencement of the competition, Rev. Sr. Emeribe observed that the event marks the beginning of the celebration heralding her profession and consecration in the Lord’s vineyard. According to her, she was motivated by St. Augustine who said that “whoever sings well, prays twice.”

According to her, she started the induction of the four competing parish choirs on March 23, 2020. She posited that she was motivated to help upgrade the choir because most times, “external” choirs were hired to animate Eucharist worship at burials and weddings due to the poor and inferior choir at the locality.

She disclosed that she included St. Theresa’s choir Umuoma Nkerem because she served there for over ten years. She observed that even participating choirs will have a token of appreciation and a certificate of participation. She said the star prize of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) goes to the eventual winner of the competition in addition to the customized trophy.

According to her, her intentions to help groom a central choir from the whole Umunumo Ama-Iri community and she hopes that the competition will become an annual event.

The team of judges from Abia State led by Nath Nwoko (Rochobath) included, Amarachi Udochika and Obinna Osisiogu.

At the end of the competition, the choir from St. Michael’s Parish Umuaro won the first prize and were given the their prize money after each choir rendered five Christian renditions each.

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