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Catholic Diocese of Awka News

Priests are Called by Christ – Bishop Ezeokafor at Chrism Mass/ Cathedraticum

By Gloria Ibesi and Ebube Edieh

The Church hall at St John Catholic Church Enugwu-Agidi, Njikoka Local Government, Anambra State, was transformed into a sea of gray hair and wrinkled smiles as the Parish held a special celebration to recognize and pay tribute to its octogenarian and older members on Wednesday, 27 December 2023. The joyful atmosphere was alive with laughter and memories as over 100 elderly members aged 80 and above were celebrated.

The elderly festival better known as “Ilu Ogbo” was specially laid out by the Parish Priest, Rev Fr Okechukwu Otie, his Vicar, Rev Fr Martin Nwakeze and the parishioners of the parish, to make the aged members of the parish behold the thoughtfulness, benevolence, and jollity expressed towards them by their loved ones and people who wished to attain their age.

Equally, the celebration was used to mark the official exemption of the celebrants from church dues and levies and to promote the establishment of the Parish Social Support Care which will be employed to identify the needy elders and care for them as well as provide an opportunity for people to tap from the grace of the graced in longevity by contributing for their support.

The event was kicked-off with a Thanksgiving Mass led by the first indigenous priest of the town, Very Rev Msgr. Luke Anameze alongside other concelebrating priests.

During the homily, the homilist Rev Fr. Peter Obiefuna specially thanked the Parish Priest and all who contributed in organizing the celebration which he said was a beacon of hope for the elderly and a reminder that they were loved and cherished as even those who were unwell made special efforts to attend.

‘I thank God for this occasion of joy. Some of the people participating in this Ilu Ogbo today, are people who some of us did not know before now, that they were still existing because some of them due to illness and old age could no longer leave their homes.

‘I thank the Parish Priest, his Vicar and all who gave their support for this celebration to hold.’

The cleric further encouraged the faithful to endeavour to share in the joy of their brothers and sisters whenever any good happened to them. He urged them to generously assist each other, especially the aged, in their needy times as that would attract them the blessings of God.

Speaking during the occasion the Parish Priest, Fr Otie said the event was an occasion of joy as the parish dedicated the day to their old parents and members.

He also highlighted the occasion as an opportunity to express gratitude to the elderly members and recognize their contributions for the growth of the Church.

In response, one of the celebrants, Octogenarian Anthony Udebune praised the parish priest and his assistant for their thoughtfulness in preparing such a loud occasion to honour the aged.

The celebrant on behalf of others, prayed God to particularly bless all who contributed for the success of the occasion.

In an address of welcome presented during the second phase of the event, the Parish Secretary, Mr Peter Okoye, described the celebration as an occasion to ‘stimulate our humanity of humans and Christianity of Christians towards our elders’ He noted that among the 104 people being celebrated were 2 centenarians, 14 nonagenarians and 84 octogenarians; part of which included a couple and 12 siblings.

He welcomed all to the celebration while urging them to celebrate and make their elderly happy.

In speech during the event, the member representing Njikoka I Constituency, HON Chidi Ibemeka expressed happiness as he described the event as a celebration of the living as against celebrating them when they are dead.

He urged people at other communities including the government to follow the example set by the celebration and consider holding similar events to honour their own elderly adding that it would help in awakening their spirits.

The event showcased Cutting of Ilu Ogbo Cake, a special meal of local delicacies served to the Ilu Ogbo celebrants, presentation of gifts, and other life entertainments.