By Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya and Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral, Abakaliki Diocese, under the auspices of the priests in charge, on Monday 15th June, 2020 shared alleviating materials to indigent persons numbering over 600 selected across the ten zones that make up the parish
Speaking during the exercise, the cathedral administrator, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Alphonsus O. Iwueke told Citizens’ Advocate that the gesture was prompted by the need to assist the people who might have been affected in diverse ways following the lockdown orchestrated by Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a result of my rapport with some parishioners, we assessed the situation on ground and decided to come up with this gesture, so that many people who must have been affected by the lockdown in different ways will be able to feed themselves for some days with the items provided” he said
He disclosed that the beneficiaries numbering between fifty and one hundred persons from each zone were selected by their respective chairmen, stating that the targeted people were the sick ones, elderly and those who ordinarily found it difficult to feed themselves.
The administrator further pointed out that the virus is real and therefore advised that all the precautionary measures which include regular washing of hands, wearing of facemasks, maintaining a reasonable distance from one another should always be adhered to until the pandemic is over.
The director of Communication, Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, Rev. Fr. Ifeanyi Ogodo told Citizens’ Advocate that the event was in tandem with the directive given by the diocesan bishop, Rt. Dr. Michael Okoro, aimed at affecting the lives of the parishioners positively especially in this period of pandemic.
“The global health problem has actually robbed the parishioners comfort and based on this fact, the parish being the community of the believers and charity deemed it necessary to give back to the people who had been the vanguard of contributing to the growth of the church”
“The principle of charity is what we preach on daily basis, now we are at the point of practice” he explained
Fr. Ogodo who is also the assistant parish priest praised Monsignor Iwueke for the initiative and others who had contributed in one way or the other towards the event and advised the beneficiaries to be generous too by showing a similar love in their neighbourhood
He further appealed that other religious organizations should endeavour to reach out to their congregants to cushion the pandemic’s effect.
The first vice chairman of the cathedral, Engr. Victor Afoke described the exercise as Christ’s teaching geared at showing love to the indigent persons and thereby thanked Bishop Okoro for his consent
“Principally, the event is meant to touch lives of the less privileged comprising both the parishioners and non parishioners to enable them feel loved in this period of hardship” he said.
He further disclosed that the palliatives which included 600 bags of 10kg rice, tubers of yam, bags of 100kg beans, bags of semovita, cartons of tin tomatoes and other items were voluntarily and solely provided for the church without external assistance or levy from individuals.
The president Block Rosary crusade, Mr. Fidelis Egede, expressed gratitude over the event which he said that it was even extended to the children under his leadership and therefore prayed for divine strength upon the donors and the organizers
Some of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Martha Odife, a member of zone 9 and Mrs. Rose Akpanaka from Zone 5 respectively described the gesture as the” first of its kind” and thereby thanked the bishop, cathedral administrator, assistant parish priest and others for cushioning the effects of the economic pains which they have been undergoing, since the outbreak of the disease.
We gathered that the people were the 4th batch out of the total categories of persons to be assisted while hundreds of thousands of naira were spent for the materials.