The Catholic community of Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri on Sunday, August 19, rolled out the red carpet for the visiting Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev Anthony Obinna. Not even the torrential downpour could dampen the excitement and outpouring of affection by the parishioners during the two-day pastoral visit.
The Archbishop arrived the Cathedral Parish on Saturday August 18 and was received by the Administrator and members of the Parish Council, who took him on a tour of the four stations (formerly wings) of the Cathedral before a benediction and interactive session with parishioners on pastoral and catechetical issues.
The next day, Sunday August 19 was the climax of the visit. It began with a concelebrated pontifical Mass presided over by the Archbishop and assisted by the Cathedral Administrator, Rev Fr Nicholas Ijemaru, the Chancellor/Secretary, Rev Fr Alphonsus Oha, the Director of Education, Rev Fr Victor Eleba, the Assistant Administrator, Rev Fr Justin Adiele, the Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies Rev Fr Richmond Duru, and Rev Fr Nnaemeka Njezi.
In his homily, Archbishop Obinna regretted that many baptized Catholics were yet to be converted and that is why they still believe in osu/diala satanic discrimination.
“Those who believe in diala are pagans even if they are in this Cathedral,” the Archbishop said. Describing such Christians as “clay-footed and arusi-driven Catholics,” Archbishop Obinna said they can easily be identified when it comes to marriage and ezeship involving the osu/diala. “The clay-footed Christians will be full of fear of fellow humans. They will be afraid of spirit forces that are fictitious in many ways.”
Turning to the confirmation candidates, Archbishop Obinna told them to be bold, reminding them that they are no longer children of the earth. “You have risen from the children of earth to citizens of heaven; preach to arusi-driven parents; speak the truth without fear. ” He reminded them of how the spirit of God entered the apostles and gave them the strength and authority to testify and spread the word of God without fear or favour.
Igba Ndi Nna cultural dance of the CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish, escort Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna during his Pastorial Visit, August 19.
Facing the congregation, Archbishop Obinna cautioned against putting so much emphasis on the body, regretting that a lot of attention is being placed on fashion and beautification of the flesh; beautification of the eyes, fingers, lips etc.
He said that all these belong to the line of triviality and frivolity, and that they are vanity upon vanity. He said that Christians are called to be holy, to be illuminious persons.
Over one hundred candidates were confirmed in faith during the Mass. The boys were sponsored by the chairman of the Parish Council, Mr Emmanuel Uzoka while the girls were sponsored by the secretary of the Parish Council, Mrs. Emmanuela Chukwuezi.
After the Mass, other activities shifted to the Obiri-Odenigbo where the parishioners accorded a red carpet treatment to the Archbishop and his pastoral team comprising the Chairman, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Barr Anthony Emeana, the Catechizer, Rev Sr Miriam Petrus Ezeonye, the Archdiocesan CWO President, Mrs Stella Acholonu, the Youth and Mary League Presidents.
In its welcome address, the Parish Pastoral Council thanked the Archbishop for always finding time to visit the parish every year.
It used the occasion to present their score card to the Archbishop since his last visit in 2017.
They listed some of their achievements including upgrading of public address system which had posed a lot of communication problems in the Cathedral, especially during homilies and announcements.
“Now, the priest can be heard loud and clear not only inside the Cathedral but also outside because of additional speakers,” they said.
The address, written in Igbo and read in Igbo by the Parish Council Secretary, Mrs. Emmanuela Chukwuezi however listed some challenges facing the parish.
The Archbishop was presented with various gifts by the Parish Council, stations, groups and individuals. Various dance groups entertained the Archbishop and his entourage including the cultural dance by the CWO, the Mary League and the “Igba ndi nna” of the CMO which debuted during the visit.
The chairman of the Pastoral Visit Committee, Mr. Cyril Nwokeke expressed gratitude to the Parish Council and the parishioners for their support to his committee.
Archbishop Obinna thanked the parishioners for the honour done him and congratulated them on their various achievements since his last visit.