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Bishop Ezeokafor dedicates St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Awka

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 THOUSANDS of Catholic faithful, Sunday, thronged St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, G.R.A. Awka, to witness the dedication of the church by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Dr  Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor

 The ceremony actually started on Thursday, November 7, three days to the dedication day when the bishop came on a pastoral visit to the parish and administered the sacrament of confirmation to 247 candidates.

   The dedication mass started with a plea from St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Community, led by the Vice Chairman Parish Pastoral Council, Sir Jonathan C. Ezeuchu, to the bishop to dedicate the church for them.

The bishop accepted and handed the key of the church to the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Anthony Akabuogu, who he instructed to always open the church for the parishioners for spiritual purposes.

The dedication featured among other things anointing and blessing of the alter, anointing of the 12 pillars representing the12 apostles, litany of the saints, lighting of candle, blessing and sprinkling of holy water which shows that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy spirit have taken place in the church.

Speaking during the mass, Governor Willie Obiano, ably represented by the Head of Service, Harry Uduh, assured the church of continuous support and maintained that there is good relationship between the governor and the parish.

The governor assured  of adequate security and completion of on-going road works  to ensure a hitch free festive period, adding that the state government will pay all allowances and salary of workers before December 15,  even as  workers’ Christmas rice will be distributed in due time.

 “The governor puts effort to road maintenance for smooth Christmas and already packaging goodies for workers. Salaries and allowances will be paid before 15th December. The governor cares for you and he wishes you well.”

 In his homily, Bishop Ezeokafor called on Christians to always support the church as God’s work is for all, stressing the importance of sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharist. He said; “Try to be holy as this church is being dedicated to God. The church now is purely for God, not for other things. Be active both in church and in the community for God to recognise you.”

The bishop thanked the Parish for the magnificent church, even as he asked them to continue working in God’s vineyard.

On his part, the Parish Priest of the church, Rev. Fr. Anthony Akabuogu, who was obviously happy over the event, gave all glory to God. To the bishop, he said; “my Lord, I thank you for the pastoral visit three days ago, and for this visit today for dedication. I can say that you love St Thomas Aquinas more than every other Parish in the diocese.”

 Fr Akabuogu also expressed his thanks to the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, for his support. He further extended his gratitude to Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu and all government officials present, the Igwes and everybody that helped in making the event a success.

He did not forget the former parish priests, even as he prayed for the soul of Late Fr Joseph Ndibe.

The reception featured award of excellence to some worthy persons among who are past parish priests; then Msgr Solomon Amatu (now bishop), Bishop Peter Okpaleke and Fr Anthony Ezeoke. Others include Sir Yusuf Linus Isyaku, former Director SSS, Anambra State; Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and former governor of Anambra State, among others.

The Vice Chairman, Parish Pastoral Council, Sir J.C. Ezeuchu thanked God for his grace for them to witness the dedication and also prayed for God’s guidance on their visitors.

Sir Ezeuchu also commended Bishop Ezeokafor for his fatherly love and thanked Fr Akabuogu for his restless days and nights while preparing for the dedication.

A member of the church and  the Managing Director, Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, publishers of National Light, Ka O di Taa and Sportslight Extra, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, who was the master of ceremony on the occasion, has these to say:

“The dedication is a combination of work, a long period of focus and commitment to an evangelical project and it is a fulfillment of people’s wish, the wish of the people of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish which shows that with tenacity, sincere purpose and faith in God, you can achieve what appears unachievable. You conquer with faith, prayer and purpose.

That is actually what the achievement of St. Thomas Aquinas Church edifice stands at. It also shows a people who have a desire and a goal of building a state of the  art temple for God. But we must not forget the fact that there are people of good intention who God also used along with every member of the parish who committed talent, treasure and time.

There are individuals also, who through their magnanimity, helped in this project; not all of them are in the parish.

Somebody like His Excellency, Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State and his family, their very personal and private donations towards achieving the state of the art vicinity within the church is commendable. As duly noted by the Parish Priest, people like Arthur Eze, Mr Yusuf Linus Isyaku, among other individuals, communities, societies and even groups that did one thing and the other,” he concluded.

Hon Justice Okwudili Ezeoke thanked God for making their dream come through and prayed the parishioners to develop their spirituality for them to make heaven.

CWO President of the parish, Lady Uju Chiekezi, in an interview, felt heavily overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to God for his love in her life, particularly the opportunity to witness the great event for the first time in her entire life.

. She extended her warm gratitude to Bishop Ezeokafor, whom God used to actualise their dream. She congratulated the parish priest and the entire St. Thomas Aquinas family for the remarkable feat they achieved.

She advised the parishioners and all men of goodwill to be steadfast and unceasingly thankful to God and most  importantly, understand that their bodies, souls, minds, families, all that they are, have and do should totally be dedicated to God and service to humanity ..

The secretary of Awka I, immediate past president of the parish and chairman of entertainments sub-committee of the dedication ceremony, Lady Lizzy Nweke, in an interview, explained that words could not express her happiness, and that the day was one of her happiest days. She went on and prompted the parishioners to leave their problems to God and have strong belief in God.

CWO Director, Awka Diocese, Lady Theresa Azodo and her executive members thanked Bishop Ezeokafor for his tremendous work in the diocese.

Amongst many groups that performed were St Cecilia’s Choir, whose members were at their best with wonderful melodious and classical songs uplifting the souls and minds of the congregation. Others are  Anambra State Cultural Dance Troop, Ezeugo Cultural Dance of Altar Knights Association of St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, cultural dance of Aquinas C.W.O and Children of Aquinas Model Nursery and Primary School, Awka.

Also in attendance were Anambra state commissioner for Works, Marcel Ifejiofor who is a member of the  parish works committee before being a commissioner, Commissioner for Indigenous Art, Tourism and Diaspora affairs, Sally Mbanefo, DVC Academics UNIZIK, Prof Odigbo, who represented the UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Esimone, Chief Dr Arthur Ezeh, who visited two times and supported the parish greatly, Igwe C.C. Agbara  of Uke, Igwe Judge Okaa of Nawgu and Igwe Dr. Uche Ahugwu of Udi, among others.

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