…Fr. Amano marks 50th birthday, 25 years of priestly ordination, gets chieftaincy title
From Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki
It was triple celebrations for Very Rev. Fr. Peter Okechukwu Amano and the entire Umuezeokoha community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State as they rolled out drums to celebrate his 50th birthday, 25 years of priesthood and installation as Odiukonamba, a revered traditional title on him.
Indeed the celebration was a remarkable one as all the sons and daughters of the community came together to celebrate the Catholic priest whom they described as a bridge builder, an uncommon preacher and shepherd.
Oriental News gathered that in what looked like proper enculturation of the gospel, the members of St Paul’s Catholic Church, Nwekendiegu demonstrated an uncommon feat when the elders of the community came together to confer on the Reverend Father the prestigious chieftaincy title.
Before his installation as the Odiukonamba, Fr. Amano had during the Eucharistic Mass heralding the celebrations thanked the people of Effium community for their steadfastness in the service of God.
He maintained that it would not have been possible for him to attain the age and the service in the Lord’s vineyard without the hospitable nature of the Effium community.
He said the celebration marked the beginning of a turning point in his life as a priest, king and prophet, adding that the attainment of 25 years of priesthood and 50 years of age was symbolic in the fact that God has been very kind to him despite his shortcomings.
The cleric further commended the unity of purpose of the entire Effium community, enumerating his pastoral duties across the community from the mother parish, All Saints’ Catholic Church, Effium, before he finally settled at St Paul’s Parish also in Effium.
He said that during his pastoral duties in the community he had found the people of the area receptive, peaceful and above all Christians who have embraced the gospel of Christ, as well as changing their ways of living to suit the preaching of the gospel.
The elated cleric also said he was fulfilled that he had attained the age of 50 and celebrating at the same time his silver jubilee as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
He, therefore, called on his fellow priests to put more efforts in evangelizing in the rural areas so that the gospel of liberation and freedom would get to all the hinterlands there were hitherto in darkness.
In his remarks, a fiery priest of the Abakaliki Diocese, Very Rev Fr. Dr. John Okwozo Odey eulogized the spirit embodied in the celebrant, Amano.
He described him as a silent achiever, a man of God that has not lost touch with the people.
Fr. Odey said the golden and silver jubilees of Fr. Amano was a clear demonstration of God’s love and show of peace for a man who is at peace with his maker, his people and above all with himself.
He called for more practical Christianity as the only panacea to achieving peace in the world.
The Parish Priest of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Inikiri-Umuezeoka Effium, Rev Fr. Christian Nwankwo also commended the resilience of Fr. Amano in preaching the gospel of Christ in Effium community over the decades.
Fr. Nwankwo described the celebrant as a humane and erudite preacher who combines the culture with the gospel to give the people intimate understanding of the word of God.
He said as a priest, Fr. Amano has never lost touch with tradition, adding that tradition as one of the ingredients of spreading the gospel should be inculcated into the church to be part of the evangelization tools.
The chairman on the occasion and the Permanent Secretary, Ebonyi State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Ignatius Unah, described the triple celebrations in honour of Fr. Amano as deserving.
Dr Unah described Amano, whom he said, was his classmate as a man who believes in hard work and never surrenders to anybody.
According to him, the entire Effium community had come to embrace Catholicism because of the way the celebrant reached out to the people without discrimination, which he pointed out was responsible for the boom in the church.
He said that Fr. Amano had every reason to celebrate God’s uncommon love and charity to him, noting that with the celebrations, younger priests would be spurred to strive harder to make marks in the hearts of their congregations to be able to receive the type of love shown to Fr. Amano.
The Chairman of Umuezeoka Improvement Union, UIU, Abakaliki branch, Chief Chris Alo, also eulogized the celebrant, describing him as a man of the people who never discriminated against people of other faith, but known for having very strong character in trying to bring people to believe in their own faith.
Chief Alo maintained that the entire Effium community was celebrating the priest because he had become part of the community as the longest serving priest in the entire community and prayed God to continue to give him strength to work in His vineyard.
Also Anthony Ngwuta and Mike Ufoo respectively described Fr. Amano as a true man of God whose love for the people knew no bound.
They maintained that with his type, Christianity will succeed as they urged younger generation of priests to emulate his humility in serving both God and humanity.
In his remark, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Chief Emma Nwankwo thanked the people of the Catholic community and entire Effium community for their show of solidarity to their parish priest as he marked his 50th birthday and silver jubilee of his priestly ordination.
The highlight of the occasion was the installation of the celebrant as the Odiukonamba, a prestigious chieftaincy title in the community.