It was a memorable moment for the 1994 set of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu who on Saturday 16 November, 2019 celebrated their 25th years of their priestly silver jubilee anniversary at St. Gabriel Catholic Church Onuebonyi in Izzi LGA, Ebonyi State.
The homilist, Rev. Fr. Chudi Peter Akaenyi hinted on the uneasiness of the priesthood call but maintained that those called have always transverse the Journey with joy as Christ remain their role model.
The Priest stated that the call like our Lord Jesus Christ demostrated demands that whoever he called must deny himself and carry his cross, follow him, stressing that Jesus Christ formed his Disciples who at a time struggled for who became a leader, Jesus demostrated that such person is he who serves others.
He said that Christ further demostrated who a leader is by washing the feet of his Disciples which was common attitude of a good servant.
However, the priests had taken some minutes to pray for the demise two members of the set Rev. Fr. Chikezie Uwasombia and Rev. Fr. Innocent Agunwa of Aba and Awka Dioece respectively for the repose of their souls.
Earlier in his remark, Rev. Fr. Oluwa Chukwu, Catholic Priest St. Gabriel parish Onuebonyi welcomed the priests and appreciated them for choosen to celebrate their milestone achievement in the parish,and advised them to see themselves as elders and stakeholders of the church.
He said” I welcome you my younger brothers in the priesthood, it was last year that we celebrated our own silver jubilee at Owerri and I am going to leave you with the message Msgr. Theophilus Okere share for us during the celebration.”
“He said, you are now elders and stakeholders of the Catholic Church, and as such, you cannot let the church down. We are happy that you choose our humble parish to celebrate this milestone in your life. We appreciate your presence and we believe that your prayer will enrich us, strengthen our faith and our resolve and commmittment to serve God.
“I thank you people. when we celebrated our own jubilee, we discovered to our chagrin that 11 of us had passed away as at last year and you have only two, although, the celebration involved the priests of old Onitsha ecclesiastical province, Priests from St. Joseph, Bigard Memorial Seminary, and seat of wisdom but I believe that even when combined all of them your number isn’t comparable. I think due to holiness or due to mercy of God.”
“As elders of the church most of you are already wobbling like some of us, the signs of old age has set in and we give thank to God for that and as we decrease let the younger ones increase. We pray that you will live to celebrate your golden jubilee of your priesthood ordination and if we are still alive and are here, we will welcome you to the parish to celebrate your golden jubilee, so, as you take your time to rest and rejuvenate yourself, may God grant you Journey mercy to your place of apostolic work in Jesus Name.”
Addressing the priests, Msgr. Prof. Simon Anyanwu, Dioeces of Okigwe, and a onetime formative at Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, pour ecomium on the jubilarians, revealing that they were the last set to be ordained when he left the Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, thanking God for the strength and Grace upon them.
He further reminded them that they have taken the 1st phase of their apostolic work as he appreciated them for acknowledging some of their departed brothers which he said gives hope to serve the Lord more, knowing that he will not be forgotten after his earthly mission.
According to him”I have nothing to say but to thank God with you, how far time flies. Honestly, it was Fr. Chinagorom who pressure on me to endeavour to come as your set will be holding their anniversary here. It is a thing of joy because I have not seen most of you since 25years ago except few of the priests, one can never taught it was 25 years now that you are in the vineyard seeing you looking young.
” You are going into the 2nd phase now, like my Bishop says, he said, silver jubilee is like half time in a football pitch, we hope you will rest and swing again to move on.”
“We can’t thank God enough for giving you good health and for looking fit and energetic.we know that a lot has gone out of you but the Lord will replenish. One thing that struck me greatly was that you prayed for some of us who have departed this life,it gave me joy; I told myself that when am gone, I will also be remembered as you did here today which is a part of the joy of priesthood.
Addressing fellow Priests, Rev. Fr. Dr. Ajuzieogu Michael Agbayi, Okigwe Diocese and 1994 Senior prefect, Thanked God for the gift of lives and commend their Formators and Spiritual Directors who honoured their invitation, as well, for their contributions to their callings.
“We thank our Formators and Spiritual Directors for their contributions to our callings. We appreciate the Rector Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu,Rev.Fr. Gilbert Ikpenwa as its preparing for the celebration of 95 years in preparation for the centenary, yet still fertile and bearing children.”
“The set will ever be grateful to the Bishop Abakaliki Diocese,Most Rev. Michael Nnachi Okoro for giving us security, accommodation, and care, as well as, the priest of St.Gabriel Parish Onuebonyi, the choristers and our fellow colleagues who flew from different parts of the world to show solidarity to the celebration even as we continue praying for our departed brothers.”
Speaking on behalf of Abakaliki Diocese, Rev. Fr. Peter Ogbonna, St. Charles NIGERCEM appreciated the priests for chosen to celebrate the anniversary in the Diocese and pray for more Grace and strength to carry the apostolic work for soul winning.
In an interview, Rev. Fr. Edward Inya Nwachi, Abakaliki Diocese commended the set and thank God for their coming together to celebrate the period.
The priest noted that as those called to share in the priesthood ministry of Jesus Christ that they also to partake in his cross, as such, acknowledged the uneasiness of the vocation which they are always ready to welcome every trials which form an opportunity to grow in grace.
He encouraged seminarians who are still in school to recognize the fact that the call is from God, therefore, should be humble so that they can learn and prepare to win souls to the Lord.
“For seminarians who are still on training, I advise they should recognize that the calling is from God and not about what they want and how they want it to be but being dorcile and open to the call of God. As well, be humble, if we receive the call from God, they have to be humble and ready to take the training educationally, spiritually and emotionally.”
Fr. Nwachi called those who encountered frictions in the course of the training and could not succeed to become a priest to understand that such did not make them bad People, advising them to know that as a good husband or father they can still do great in propagating the faith acknowledging that the call isn’t theirs.
Other activities of the day were the presentation of a book to the two professors present entitled “Synod For Africa:25 Years Later” which they said it reflects on what was launched in the seminary the year they were ordained and the cutting of the anniversary cake.