“Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. …and the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.” – Haggai 1: 8, 14.
It was a moment of joy for the good people of Ezi-Ukehe, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Council of Enugu State as the ebullient Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Professor Godfrey Igwebuike Onah led dignitaries, friends of the church, well wishers and adherents of the catholic faith in a High Mass and the dedication ceremony of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Chief John Nnia Nwodo, former Minister and ex-President-General, Ohaneze-Ndigbo was among top dignitaries present at the dedication ceremony. The event which took place at the Church premises attracted a mammoth crowd of the religious and the laity; dignitaries from far and near, including politicians and notable sons and daughters of Ezi-Ukehe amongst whom are Major General Victor Ezugwu and the Igwe Elect, Col. Edwin Oche Ezugwu (retd.).
The day’s readings were taken from Nehemiah 8: 2-6, 8-10, Eph 2: 19-22 and John 2: 13-2. In his homily, the Bishop reflected on the need for the faithfuls to continue running the race of Christianity as Peter, John and Mary Magdalene did. First Mary ran to inform the disciples of the resurrection of Jesus then Peter and John ran to the grave to confirm what Mary told them. We may not be running at the same pace but we need one another to accomplish our goals. The Bishop opined that in running, it is either someone is after something very vital or something is after he who is running.”
The elated father Bishop commended the community for their tenacity and for choosing to plant in the vine yard of God. He reminded them that their energy, time and money put to build the house for God and serve him in spirit and in truth is not an effort in futility. “Your reward for painstakingly building for God despite the situation we have found ourselves today is in heaven,” he said.
The dedication of the edifice which foundation was laid years ago was a reflection of the community’s spiritual resilience, will power, commitment and belief in the omnipotence of God. It was a way of announcing to the world that God matters in the affairs of the community.” Celebration of today should compel us to always think of our community. The church is a symbol of Gods dwelling amongst His people. May our lives be a reflection of the belief that God is here with us, the Bishop concluded.
In his appreciation, the Parish Priest Rev, Fr. Casmir Uramah, “thanked God for counting us among the witnesses of today’s great feat. He most especially appreciated the good people of Ezi-Ukehe for their sacrifices, Major-General Victor Ezugwu, who in his magnanimity volunteered to complete the church and Chief John Nnia Nwodo for sowing the first seed of the church. According to the Parish Priest, the presence of Nwodo was significant for the fact that; he was the person who donated the first blocks used in the foundation laying ceremony of the church over a decade ago.”
Vice Chairman of the Church Council, Brendan Iyi, who took guests down the memory lane and the accomplishment of the church building said, “I lack words to describe how I feel today. God has done it. Which other way would a community say thank you to God and announce to the world that He matters in the affairs of men than this,” he queried. Continuing Brendan said, “People build private mansions worth millions of naira for status and comfort; God deserves a place much more than this for praises, adoration and thanksgiving.”
The dedication of the church coincided with 2022 Annual Umurusi Day Celebration held every December, 27. The day offers Umurusi people the privilege and rare opportunity to appreciate the Almighty God for His kindness, and mercy upon us throughout the year. It is an annual event which serves as a unifying factor for the entire Umurusi Community – a platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage and an avenue to bring people together as one big family.
This year’s Umurusi Day was unique in many ways. It featured first, free medical and diagnostic treatment for the people. This is another way of supporting and encouraging community protection and health resilience of the community. Second, was the recognition of young graduates who earned 1st Class Honours in their courses of study. The graduates are shining examples of excellence, dedication and discipline of Umurusi Community. Honours to these young ones who have distinguished themselves in academic endeavour will serve as a model for other to emulate them. Third, award of scholarships to indigent but brilliant students by VICAP Educational Foundation. The Igbo known age long tradition sees every child as a product of the society. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the community to see that all children acquire quality and qualitative education despite their background. Fourth, women especially widows and the less privileged women are the most vulnerable and the weak gender in the society. Those of them who have lost their husbands and others, who for one reason or the other are faced with some daunting challenges of lives, are all our wives, sisters and as such deserve assistance. Therefore, the idea of assisting them with gifts is commendable. Fifth, showcasing of cultural activities. Peoples’ culture is their heritage. And culture is what defines a people. Therefore, it is expedient to sustain the culture and tradition of the community for the benefit of generations unborn. This will assist the next generations to strengthen their collective identity and self-worth.
In his goodwill message, the Igwe-Elect, Ozo Igwebuike I of Ezi-Ukehe, Col. Edwin Oche Ezugwu, thanked the community for the honour given me by the members of the community for finding me worthy to be your Igwe elect. It is crystal clear that within five years we started this Umurusi Day Celebration, our community has witnessed tremendous development strides by way of good roads, electricity supply, water, educational scholarships, new plaza and international market to mention but a few.”
Presenting his address of welcome, the chairman, Planning Committee, Dr George Agugu enjoined the people of Umurusi to be inspired by “think home philosophy.”
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army, Enugu Major-General U.T Usman who was decorated with the popular Igbo traditional regalia of Isiagu, royal red cap and an elephant tusk was among the dignitaries who graced the occasion. Chief George Ikechukwu Agu and the Chairman, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Council, Hon. Ikenna Nwodo who is also an indigene of the community were in attendance. Chinechendu Ikorodo Cultural Group was on hand to entertain the guests.