DAY ST. THERESA'S HONOURED ITS HEROES
You know of St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, that lost 26 of its parishioners, on December 26, in an early Sunday morning suicide bombing carried out by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Well, another Catholic church that shares a name with the Madalla church, St. Theresa's Parish, exists in Enugu-Agu, Achi in Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu State. Notice also the similarity that exists in the name of the Parish priest of St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla (Rev. Father Israel Achi) and the name of the location of this other St. Theresa's – Enugu-Agu Achi.
But that's where the similarities end. While the other members of St. Theresa's Madalla were busy mourning their dead after the devastating suicide bomb blast, members of St. Theresa's, Enugu-Agu Achi, recently gathered for an official commissioning of her water borehole and award of honours to her illustrious sons and daughters.
That gesture should not, however, be interpreted to mean indifference to the pains and agonies of members of St. Theresa's Madalla, pain and agonies, which members of St. Theresa's Enugu-Agu Achi share with their namesakes, being members of the same Catholic family. But the date for the official commissioning ceremony and award of honours had been fixed long before the sad incident that claimed scores of lives in Madalla, Niger State. The ceremony just had to go on because many of the awardees lived outside the community, some as far as Lagos and Abuja.
The commissioning ceremony was performed by the Catholic Bishop of Awgu Diocese, His Lordship, Rev. John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye, supported by other Catholic priests. In a welcome address, the Parish Administrator, Rev. Fr. Kingsley Ude, profusely thanked the donor of the water borehole, Engineer O.C. Ezedozie, for his kind gesture.
About 20 people were rewarded for their meritorious service and contributions to the growth of St. Theresa's Parish.
Apart from Engineer Ezedozie and his wife, Adaora, who were specially recognized for donating the water borehole to the Catholic community, other awardees who were honoured for their contributions to the growth of the Parish and community at large include Ozo B.U. Madu, a pioneer member of the prestigious Nze na Ozo Achi and a retired Senior Supervisor, Religious Education in Primary Schools; Sir Basil Onyekachi Onyekelu-Eze, former President of Achi Students Union and Rotary Club of Kaduna-Malali (1997/98) and Chief Executive Officer, Aqua Rapha Investment, makers of Rapha Yoghurt; Mr. Raymond E.C Ihunegbo, MD, Raymarx International Company Ltd; HRM, Igwe Godwin Madu, Mbaogu 11 of Mbaogu Kingdom, Enuguagu Achi and Chairman, Oji River Traditional Rulers Council; Engineer Remigus Nzeh, former Head of Department, Building, Government Technical College, Nsukka, and member of the Lay-Readers, St. Peter's Chaplaincy, UNN; Rev.Fr. Dr. Charles Onuegbu, of St. George Parish; Nze Azunna Nzeorjiekwe, Associate Member, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Chief Virgilius Nnajiofor Chukwu, of Kachel Drinking Water; Engineer Isaac I. Okah, Member, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Mr. Leonard K. Ezeani, current serving Education Chairman, Enuguagu Progressive Union (EPU), Lagos Branch, Dr. Nebeh Patrick Chukwuemeka, Medical Director, Divine Hospital/Maternity Ihiala, Anambra State, Mr. Chijioke Oyekezie, Chief Joseph Uzor, Chief Lawrence Atu, Nze Linus Agubata, Sir Alex Obiechina and Eng. C.Y. Obitulata.
Speaking at the occasion, Most Rev. Okoye, while branding the Catholic Diocese of Awgu 'as one of the poorest in the country,' thanked the awardees for their outstanding contribution towards the development and growth of the parish.
Being a new diocese peopled by mainly civil servants, he pleaded for more financial support from indigenes living outside the community and for more developmental projects that will bring in income to each parish 'so as to avoid over-levying and burden to the churches.'
Making his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Igwe Chima Achiekwelu thanked the Parish priest as well as people of the parish for their outstanding contributions and peaceful co-existence, which he said was necessary for growth, progress and good development.
Apart from speeches, other highlights of the ceremony include colourful cultural dances by various dance and choral groups.