By Job Osazuwa
It was a special day, a day set aside by the National Catholic Women Organization (NCWO), St. Mary’s Parish, Afikpo, Ebonyi State, to honour and reward some faithful for their exemplary efforts and exceptional contributions to the growth of the church and development of the community with a view to encouraging others to invest their resources and character in the faith they profess.
In her welcome address, the president, NCWO, St. Mary’s Pro-cathedral parish, Afikpo, Mrs. Onwa Bernadette, said: “It is with gratitude to God Almighty and a heart full of joy that I stand on behalf of my wonderful executives of the NCWO of this parish to welcome you all to this unique and significant August convention 2021. It is, indeed, unique and significant because we have gathered to participate in our annual get-together after the turbulent year of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The theme of the convention is ‘The Role of Catholic Women in Our Community,’ which Rev. Fr. Ikenna Nnaji explained vividly. So, please, I encourage you all to put the knowledge acquired into practice. This knowledge will practically equip us spiritually and materially to support our homes. To Rev. Fr. Anthony Ikonwo Nnaji we say welcome to the land of Ehugbo, Jokwoo father! God bless you.
“Today, also remains unique because the NCWO has deemed it necessary to confer an award of excellence on some deserving members of the faithful within and outside the parish who have served both God and humanity in their various capacities.
“To this end I congratulate the awardees who have accepted the honour being accorded to them despite the hardship in the country. This award of excellence was earlier slated to hold during 2020 August convention but was stalled by the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, which appeared to have denied all of us the euphoria of this celebration. We thank God that today we are all happy to celebrate this occasion. Happy survival to all of us.
“To our awardees, NCWO uses this opportunity to say thank you and urge you not to relent in your spiritual and material support to the church for this is another medium for evangelism. While we appreciate the fact that your nomination is well-deserved by the nature of your great personalities, the NCWO strongly advises you maintain the virtues and qualities that earned you this recognition.
“Today the NCWO will also give out posthumous awards. One may question why we give award to the dead. The essence of posthumous award is to inform the living that the good men do lives even after their death. Therefore, we should endeavour to live a good life so that we will be remembered even after we have left this earth. Furthermore, the church seizes this opportunity to immortalize good men.”
Rev. Edward Inyanwachi, in his homily, harped on character evangelism. He urged the congregation to practice their faith in words and actions. According to him, a Christian should be distinguished by his lifestyle and general conduct. In other words, by their fruits you shall know them.
Among the chosen few was Madam Beatrice Mgbo Egwu. Her citation read: “Mgbo Ekuma, as she is fondly called by her peers, arrived on earth as a bundle of joy and a special New Year gift to her parents, family and the society. This enviable position, love and grace she has continued to enjoy and also radiate to people around her to the glory of God.
“Mrs. Beatrice is naturally stoic, selfless and moreover easily pleased. She is a master strategist, dutiful, compassionate and a prayerful wife, mother and councilor. She is blessed with six children and a host of wonderful relatives. By cheer determination, inspite of the odds, she availed herself of the opportunities in the informal areas like sewing, soap-making, etc. An enterprising and resourceful woman, it’s her nature to turn every difficult situation to enviable assets.
“She amazingly converted every seemingly useless items to money to support the family and the needy, and makes people hopeful in despairing situations.
“Despite her not being privileged to acquire formal education, she interacts, relates, associates and socializes positively and seamlessly with all. She belongs to some strictly select and noble social and pressure groups such as Onye-Agala-Nwannie, Nwa bu Ugwu Nne age grade and Edo family Union (women’s s wing), among others, where she plays active and progressive roles in their affairs.
“As a lover of God and things of God, she is a member of a number of pure societies and associations like Catholic Women Organisations, St. Lucia ward, St. Jude Society and church warden. She is consciously stuck to St. Paul’s admonitions in Colossian 3:23, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as though you were working for the lord and not for people.’ Thus, she practices Christianity with admirable consistency and piety.”
She was conferred with the title of Ezinne (Good Mother).
Her son, Dr. Lawrence Egwu, said: “Mama’s recognition as Ezinne, is an honour well deserved. Honestly, I never knew people were watching and taking note of her way of life (selflessness, dutifulness, etc). The vote from every quarter was unanimous for her. Comments from people about her were all positive and superlative. For me, the recognition is a confirmatory event of my age-long personal view. She is unarguably Ezinne, and I sincerely admire her virtues.”
Her son-in-law, Mazi Austin Ewa-Ekoh, expressed appreciation to the church for “deeming it fit to recognize our dearly beloved mother with such a well-deserved honour.”
He added: “Nnediuto, this is indeed vox populi, vox Dei. Heaven has confirmed your uncommon, sterling qualities as a mother.”
The occasion was graced by dignitaries from far and near, including former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu.
The convention also included health talks among other activities.