Raphael Ede, Enugu
Parishioners of the St Anthony’s Catholic Church, Obe Ugwu in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu state worshipped in the classroom block of a primary school for several years until God recently used a philanthropist in the area, Chief Patrick Ngene, to bless them with a gigantic church complex.
The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Callistus Onaga on December 2, 2018 dedicated the church complex built with all the facilities needed for effective worship.
Speaking during the dedication of the 5000-seater magnificent church, Bishop Onaga expressed gratitude to God for Ngene’s magnanimity, noting that it was a rare privilege to build a place of worship for God.
Represented by the Auxiliary Bishop, Ernest Obodo, Onaga ranked the church as the best in the entire Enugu diocese, and thanked everyone who helped in its actualisation.
According to him, “The temple of God is you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church is not the building, it is you. The church is where they cook the word of God like food. The church is a meeting place between God and man.
“It is a rare privilege to build a church. God denied David the opportunity to build a temple for him and gave it to Solomon to build, instead. That is, it is not man that builds the church for God, God Himself builds His church. This house is an expression of how big Patrick Ngene’s love for God is.”
To the philanthropist, what he did by ensuring that members of church had a befitting place of worship was just a way of appreciating God’s faithfulness to him and his family.
He spoke to Daily Sun on the rigorous processes they went through especially with the engineering design and the topography of the site during the construction but gave glory to God for seeing them through.
He expressed gladness that he started contributing in building the church while still in service, and continued as a pensioner until it was eventually completed.
Ngene who said that he drew the inspiration to support the ministry of Jesus Christ, from his late father was also delighted that the church has been dedicated, saying that he has invested in eternity.
“I said I will build for eternity and that is what I have done. It is not because I’m the richest person around but I’ve thrown my pension into it and today, I can tell you that I have no regrets.
“So, I said instead of keeping this money, let me invest it the way I did. It is an investment, not for me but for generations to come. Today is one of the happiest days of my life,” he said.
On the likely challenge of maintaining such a massive edifice, the benefactor said that he would institute a foundation to be known as St Anthony Catholic Church Foundation that will handle it.
“This foundation will see to the maintenance of the church. The foundation will see to the development of our youth and will make sure that we promote culture.
“I want a situation where the auditorium will annually attract Christians from different places for a music concert to promote and encourage the youth who we all know are the leaders of tomorrow; as well as the gospel and enhance other cultural activities,” he said
The overjoyed parish priest, Rev. Fr. Godfrey Oleri said he was fulfilled seeing the church building dedicated after a tortuous process, and added that though the maintenance will not be easy but that the parish should be able to brace up to the challenge.
“The person who sponsored the building fully, Chief Ngene and the person who built the chairs have done very well. We did not have time to start saying a lot of things inside the church but they have done the work and it is now our duty to maintain the church. It is enormous and beautiful,” he told Daily Sun.