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Full text of Bishop Okpaleke’s Post-ordination speech (2)

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Contd. from last edition

Bishop OkpalekeIn a lighter mood, let me confess that now I know firsthand the emotions women go through when they are getting married. It is like being transplanted from one location to another with the uncertainties and adaptation challenges therefrom. The experience is made worse if the woman notices sins of non-acceptance by some in her place of marriage. But many women know that in spite of the roughness of the beginnings, better days could be ahead and that the best way to ensure better days ahead is by loving and serving all irrespective of what has transpired at the beginning. Indeed, if left to choose between two unpleasant options, many women would choose to weather the turbulence at the beginning and then cruise lifelong in a fulfilling relationship than to start the marriage in high romance and then fly into persistent turbulence. I pitch my tent with the first group.

My ordination today is a celebration of my marriage to the Church of God in Ahiara. Just like wives married into your families, I have left my people and have become onye Ahiara Diocese. I remember a piece of music by the monks of Weston Priory in the State of Vermont USA which I love so much. The monks set into song Ruth’s response to Naomi: “wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I shall die and there I shall be buried.” (Ruth 1:16). I know, for certain, that at the end of my earthly life, if it is God’s will, my bones will rest n’ala Mbaise. So, as the turbulence raged, I used the time to educate myself more about my people, our great history pre—colonial, colonial and post—colonial, the teeming Catholic population, the enormous manpower resource in the general populace and among the clergy diocesan as well as religious and the many consecrated men and women working in many parts of Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. Our people are the greatest witnesses to the universality of the Church. Our sons and daughters are found almost everywhere working as priests and religious men and women and our lay faithful carry Catholicism with them wherever they are.

In the light of the above, I understand the anger and frustration generated by my appointment in some sections of the Diocesan family as fueled by the undeniable fact of the enormous pool and quality of manpower that we have in Ahiara Diocese and in our sons in the religious congregations. Other sons of ours, especially from outside the diocese, however tapped into this initial and understandable frustration and went on a rhetorical over-drive. They spread a lot of stories and negative propaganda to cause confusion and misunderstanding among our peaceful people. Be that as it may, we stand to learn from every event. The greatest lesson for me and the Church is our understanding and manner of exercise of ministry as priests and bishops. We have to go back to the understanding of ministry as service in love and total self-gift in imitation of Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep. This has been my understanding and the events of the past months have sharpened that understanding and commitment. Our first bishop, our Father in the faith, late Bishop Victor Adibe Chikwe, according to the account of many people, lived out this understanding of ministry simple, humble, approachable and available to all in love and service and above all, visionary. With your prayers and support, we shall uphold his legacy. I will work hard, day and night and with all my strength. as your Bishop, to make sure that my people of Ahiara take their rightful place in all levels of our  life in the Church and society.

Nde ebe ke anyi, nde Ahiara Diocese, let me address you personally. First, ours is the lord of history and He turns everything to the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:25). The turbulence of the last months and even the unsettledness of the situation now should not leave us gloomy, dejected or fearful. I dare say that nde Ahiara Diocese anyi love God and God will surely, through the events of the past months, strengthen us all in faith, hope and love. I want us to focus our attention on Jesus. Let us remember that while walking on the sea, Peter started to sink only when he took his eyes away from Him and focused on himself and the roaring waves (Matt 14:27—30). Let us with courage borne out of faith, entrust ourselves to Jesus, the Good Shepherd who will, through the ministry we are beginning today in the power of the Holy Spirit, gather His sheep put under enormous stress by the events of the last months. May He bandage the wounded and lead all to greener pasture and ultimately back to God the Father, so that God will be all in all. Second, God, in His inscrutable will, has given us to each other. As your Bishop, I shall do my best to be a good shepherd, to respect. love and serve you in humility. I will do everything within my means to promote the Gospel and enhance the love of our people. Third, may I request your prayers and your pieces of advice. The Church of God in Ahiara Diocese is not the bishops. It is primarily God’s and in the second place, ours. Let it therefore share the collective responsibility, each in his or her way, for building her up and contributing to her mission of announcing the Good News of salvation.

Finally my dear people of God, nde ebe ke m, nde Ahiara Diocese, as St. Paul admonished, let it always be joyful, pray constantly and give thanks for all things in the knowledge that this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:12-1 8). We can give thanks to God for events of the last months, painful and confusing though they may be, by taking seriously the lessons learnt and keeping ourselves open to the healing touch of God. After all said and done, we are brothers and sisters in Christ: sons and daughters of the same Father; we have one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5): we are one family – the family of God.

Let us thank all those who were at the centre of the storm – the Metropolitan and the Bishops of the Province; the Diocesan Administrator, the priests, religious and lay faithful of Ahiara Diocese: the Apostolic Nuncio and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. You have had sleepless nights, nerve—wracking and tempestuous sessions in the effort to address the issues that arose. Many of you were hit by verbal missiles, had mud slung at them, were misunderstood, called names and persecuted in one form or another. Please take it as part of the difficulties you encountered for the sake of the Gospel and for which Jesus in the Beatitude promised eternal recompense. (Man 5:10). For those who felt caught in the eye of the hurricane and are still over whelmed by the present challenges to our faith, we believe that God, in His own time, will give us the courage to overcome these difficulties. Ours is a forgiving God. He heals and strengthens us in all situations. In a special way, I thank the few priests and the many lay faithful of Ahiara-nde Eze. Knights of the Church and their Ladies who have stood with the Holy Father and the hierarchy of the Church in Nigeria and had ceaselessly prayed for an end to the stand-off, Please continue to be shining examples of discipleship in love. To all the Archbishops and Bishops, the Rector, staff and seminarians of Seat of Wisdom Seminary and all who have come here today, I say, in the name of Ahiara Diocese; a big thank you and may God lead you back safely to your various destinations

Please continue to pray for us so that the Holy Spirit, without whom nothing in the human being is of any price or of worth and nothing can harmless be, may, as we pray in the Golden Sequence of Pentecost Sunday, “Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est Engidum, rege quod est devium. Da tuis fidelibus, in te confidentibus, sacrum septenarium” (wash our sinful stains away, refresh from heaven our barren clay, our wounds and bruises heal, To Your sweet yoke our stiff necks bow, warm with Your fire our hearts of ice, our wandering feet recall. Grant to Your faithful, dearest Lord, whose only hope is Your sure word, the sevenfold gifts of grace).

God bless you!

 

Peter Ebere Okpaleke
Bishop of Ahiara

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. arinze akalugo

    August 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    My lordship May ur days b long

  2. Charles Chilaka

    July 20, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I invite all people of goodwill to follow the following link to sign a petition to Ahiara priests to stop their militancy and allow the Ahiara bishop serve God.
    http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/ahiara-priests-time-to-stop-this-scandal

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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