Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, Rev. Dr. Valerian Okeke has administered the Abbatial blessing on Rev. Mother Mary Ruphina Chukwuka (OSB) as the new Mother Abbess of St. Scholastica Benedictine Abbey Umuoji, Anambra State.
The event which kicked off with a Holy Mass by the Archbishop Okeke was highlighted by the Abbatial blessing of the new Mother Abbess and handing of the pastoral staff (Shepherd’s Staff) and a ring to her by the archbishop.
St. Scholastica Benedictine Abbey “Peace and Joy” is a daughter house of Benedictine Abbey of St. John the Baptist in Rome. It forms part of the great Benedictine family which St. Benedict started in the 6th century at Subiaco, Italy.
Archbishop Okeke in his sermon told the faithful at the event that he would not say a homily but made a short prayer for the new Abbess. He pleaded with all to join in prayers for her, so that the spirit of Christ as first given to Father Benedict will be given to her.
He also prayed for her to have the spirit of St Benedict who wrote the rule of monastic life over 1000 years ago which is still in use in every monastery today without amendments. He observed that even other religious communities like Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus and even atheists use the rule as a guide.
“We pray that God gives you a spirit of prayer like St. Benedict; prayer that moves mountains; spirit that does the impossible,” he prayed.
He called on Catholics to support the monastery financially, as they spend most of their time praying for the faithful and the church.
The new Mother Abbess Chukwuka promised to lead the Abbey according to the monastic rules.
She commended the Archbishop for his support for monastery both financially and spiritually, promising that they would not renege in their vows.
Rev. Mother Chukwuka prayed God to bless and guide those who came to witness the event, assuring that she will maintain the principles of the nun and mother leader.
The former Abbess, Abbess emerita Rev. Mother Margaret Mary Ngobidi (OSB), who was full of thanksgiving for the celebration said”I am very happy for the occasion of blessing my successor to continue the work of God.
“How God’s mercy brought another Abbess after my tenure to continue the work. I will support her with my prayers,” she said.
Some dignitaries present at the event were Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, Mr. Peter Obi, Governor Willie Obiano who was represented by Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, traditional ruler of Agulu Igwe where the new mother Abbess hails from, Dr Elochukwu Obodoakor and the Onowu of Agulu represented by Ichie Nnedu among others.
The Umuoji Monastery was built by his Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze in 1978 and sits on 50 acres of land donated by the Umuoji community to the church. It was canonically raised to an Abbey in 1993, with late Rev. Mother Patricia Alufuo (OSB) blessed as Abbess on August 21, 1994.