David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
July 21, 2019, was a day of spiritual renaissance for Ebenato Nsunano community with six villages in Otolo Nnewi, Anambra State, when a reception was organised for five of their sons who were ordained reverend fathers in Nnewi Catholic Diocese with Most Rev. Hilary Okeke as bishop.
The priests, ordained after 17 years of study at the Holy Family Catholic Church, Otolo Nnewi, were Okonkwo Williams, Orazulume Valentine, Chukwuma Innocent, Elodimuo Jude and Njepu Aloysius. Aside the holy mass that preceded the celebrations; cultural music, other forms of music and varieties of entertainments were in abundance to grace the occasion that lasted for hours.
The parish priest, Rev. Fr. Dr Godfrey Okoli, parish vicar, Rev. Fr. Simon Ikeh, parish council and the their parishioners said in one voice that they could not quantify their joy in being alive to witness the epoch-making event.
Okoli delivered the message: “Suffice it to say that the journey to priesthood is never an easy task. It is a task with deep spiritual and physical commitments, self-denial of temporal pleasure in the temporal existence of man upon this earth.
“Of a truth, not all those who started this journey with you seventeen years ago saw to its fulfilment. To God be the glory as you all emerged victorious despite all tribulations”, they said.
They congratulated those who formed the priests in both minor and major seminaries through whose trainings and instructions they were made what they are today. They also congratulated parents and relations of the new priests who gave their consent for their sons to work in the vineyard of God.
The parish pastoral vice chairman, Afam Muodielo, described the event of having five priests at one time from a community as an unusual blessing. He said the Ebenato Nsunano community comprises Umuzu; Ezekwuabo; Ekwulu; Okwelugo; Chiedozie and Umuezeagu had earlier produced five indigenous priests with the recent batch bringing the number to 10. The community has the oldest living indigenous priest in Nnewi, Rev. Fr. Eugene Uzoukwu, ordained in 1972.
He noted that in the present circumstance, it was the first time five priests were produced by one community at a go and said it called for celebration: “It is an unusual phenomenon. In fact, this is the first time it is happening in Nnewi diocese, one parish producing five priests in one swoop.”
Parents of one of the newly ordained priests, Ogbuefi and Lolo Godfrey Elodimuo, said their son, Jude, the last in a family of seven, had at the age of 10 when a birthday was organised for him said he would be nothing else except a reverend father.
His mother said Jude would always go to church, climb the altar and that he began to behave like a priest even as a child. She said he was highly dedicated to things of God from childhood.
Rev. Fr. Elodimuo said they would dedicate their lives towards saving souls for Christ.