The remains of late Rev. Fr. Dr. Columba Ibe aged 62, who died recently after a protracted illness, have been laid to rest at the priests’ cemetery at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri.
The interment took place after a requiem Mass presided over by the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna. He concelebrated with His Lordship, the Most Rev Dennis Isiuzo, the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha, many monsignori and over 100 other priests, including the “Bigard 87” classmates of the deceased, who were there in their numbers. Members of the bereaved family and large number of Christ’s faithful from Logara in Ngor Okpala LGA were present.
Preaching the homily, Rev. Fr. Dr. Jude Ike observed that though man is always conscious of death yet whenever it occurs, human beings, including Ndigbo are devastated by it. The reason being that death is a mystery difficult to understand. He advised that the best attitude to death is to get prepared for it at all times by living a holy life characterised by unshakable faith in God, who never fails those who trust him, despite all challenges.
This, he said, was the case with Fr. Ibe who continued to do his work diligently inspite of failing health. The deceased priest was generous, always ready to assist, took the parents of fellow priests as his own biological parents, and knew all his parishioners by their names. All these virtues helped to prepare him spiritually for his death.
In their funeral oration, signed by the Secretary/Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Dr. Alphonsus Oha and read by Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Njoku, the Presbyterium of the Owerri Archdiocese stated, “As we bow to the inscrutable will of the Almighty, we thank God for the gift of Fr. Columba Ibe as he goes home to rest after working very hard in several parishes in the Archdiocese.
We also thank God for giving him the opportunity to prepare spiritually for his exit from this mortal world”. The Presbyterium acknowledged their departed brother as a philanthropist, who paid so much attention to the needy and voiceless and created a Foundation for them wherever he was posted. ‘His homilies, while attractively short, were always well prepared and edifying”, they said. Tributes flowed from several individuals and groups including parishes where he worked, such as Holy Family Church Irete and Christ the King Church Mbieri, as well as sodalities. They all spoke of how he touched the lives of many.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha, His Lordship, Most Rev. Dennis Isiuzo, an intimate friend of the deceased, while conducting the prayer of Final Commendation, also emphasized that while priests minister to the people of God, they also need the care of fellow priests.
In his introductory speech earlier, Archbishop Obinna reminded Christ’s faithful that it was hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in which late Fr. Ibe believed that had brought them to the funeral ceremony. The requiem Mass which is centred on love was meant to plead with God to forgive his deceased priest who had worked so hard his sins and grant his soul eternal rest. Archbishop Obinna thanked the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha, priests, religious, lay faithful and the burial committee for their various roles.
Before the end of Mass, the Archbishop reminded Catholics of the Lenten season beginning with Ash Wednesday the following day and the need to observe the three-day of prayer and fasting to seek God’s intervention, with repentance for a credible and peaceful governorship and state Assembly elections. The Archbishop condemned the prevailing bad governance, greed, looting of funds, lands and tyranny both at the national level as well as in Imo State. He called on the electorate to put an end to all these vices through a wise use of their votes by rejecting those who come to buy their votes with blood money.
The Month’s Mind of Late Fr. Ibe will take place at his Home Parish, St Patrick’s Church Logara on April 3, 2019.