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Announcement: Bishop Ochiagha set to be buried – See Details

The remains of Most Rev. Gregory Ochiagha, Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Orlu will be buried on Tuesday January 12.

According to a release by the Vicar-General of the Diocese, Fr. Emmanuel Okonkwo, the funeral ceremony will hold at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Orlu at 10 a.m.

Evening Mass will be on Monday 11th January 2021 at 4pm at the same venue.

It stated that all Covid-19 protocols must be observed, including wearing of face masks.

Meanwhile, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma has said that the state government will partner with the Catholic Diocese of Orlu for the successful burial of the pioneer Bishop of Orlu Diocese.

Governor Uzodimma made this known during a condolence visit to the Catholic Bishop of Orlu, Most Rev Augustine Ukwuoma, on Sunday, January 3 after a Holy Mass at the Cathedral.

“I came to commiserate with the Diocese of Orlu over the demise of her Bishop Emeritus as well as to interact with Bishop Ukwuoma on the arrangements and how we can join hands to give the late bishop a befitting burial,” Gov. Uzodimma said.

According to him, he was touched by the death of the pioneer bishop, who served the diocese and the Catholic Church for years.

 

“I HAVE FORGIVEN MY ABDUCTORS…” – BISHOP CHIKWE

 

Not minding his traumatic experience in the hands of kidnappers who abducted him and kept him in a forest for six days under a most inhuman condition, the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most. Rev. Moses Chikwe said he has forgiven them.

Speaking at the Annunciation Catholic Church, Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, New Owerri, Sunday January 3, where he celebrated his first Mass after returning from captivity, Bishop Chikwe told the congregation: “What I went through in the hands of these boys (kidnappers) is what I can’t even wish my enemy, that is if I have any,” adding that “what we went through is something unimaginable.”

Perhaps aware that the Police had closed in on them the kidnappers became suddenly friendly on the 6th day. Bishop Chikwe said at some point the kidnappers started asking him for forgiveness, saying they regretted kidnapping him. They also asked him to pray for them.

“From my heart of hearts, I blessed them and prayed for them to turn from their evil ways.” he further told the congregation. The calm and soft-spoken Prelate recalled that at a stage his abductors were preaching to him, telling him of the ills and evils in the society.

Recall that Bishop Chikwe was kidnapped along with his driver, Mr. Roberts Ndubuisi on Sunday December 27, 2020 at about 5pm while returning to his residence at Annunciation Catholic Parish, Imo Housing Estate, Umuguma, New Owerri. Shortly after abducting the prelate and his driver, the hoodlums snatched a lady standing in front of her house at the Estate.

A woman who witnessed the incident told our correspondent that she is still in shock as a result of the horrific experience.

According to her, the kidnappers operating in a mini-bus (Bus Imo) double-crossed Bishop Chikwe’s vehicle along Road 19, World Bank Housing Estate, very close to Annunciation Parish where the Bishop lives. Armed with sophisticated assault rifles, the hoodlums, about four in number, ordered the Bishop and the driver to come out immediately. The Bishop dressed in his white cassock informed them he is a Bishop but they didn’t bother. Rather they bundled him into the car boot and drove away.”

According to our source, Bishop Chikwe, Mr. Ndubuisi Roberts and the Lady, Miss Chioma Stephanie Ekwedike, right from the Sunday December 27, 2020 when they were abducted through Friday January 1, 2021 when they were released at night were blindfolded and kept in the bush at Awara, Ohaji-Egbema LGA, Imo State, for six grueling days.

The Most Rev. Chikwe in thanksgiving to God sang the Igbo song; amaghi m ebe m ga ebido ebido, amaghi m ebe m ga akwusi-akwusi wee jawa Chineke mma (where do I start and where do I end in praising God). The prelate said to the congregation who sang and danced with him in thanksgiving to God; “You can see that I am alive as against rumors that I was beheaded”.

He thanked Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna and his brother bishops for keeping him in their prayers. Most Rev. Chikwe thanked the universal Church for keeping vigil until his return, particularly those of Owerri Archdiocese.

Bishop Chikwe thanked the concelebrating priests, Rev. Fr. Eustace Agwulonu (Curate of Annunciation Parish) Rev. Fr. Cosmos Uzoigwe (Assistant Personal Secretary to Archbishop Obinna), his personal Secretary, Rev. Fr. David Achugwo, and the Seminarian on one-year apostolic work. Other priests who also joined the Mass were the Parish Priest of Annunciation Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Bona Opara and Rev. Fr. Joachim Onyeagam. Bishop Chikwe also thanked the DSS, the Imo State Police and the Anti Kidnapping unit for the good work they did in ensuring their release.

He extended the same gratitude to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma and his Deputy Prof. Placid Chike Njoku, the Catholic Women Organization (CWO) that went on a protest march and all Christian bodies who prayed for him. He also thanked the parishioners of Annunciation Catholic Church where he lives, saying that they were closely touched and affected being his parishioners.

Most Rev. Moses Chikwe flanked by Rev. Frs. Joachim Onyeagam, Bona Opara (Parish Priest Annunciation Catholic Church Imo Housing Estate), Eustace Agwulonu (Curate) Cosmos Uzoigwe (Assistant Personal Secretary to Archbishop Anthony Obinna), David Achugwo (Bishop Chikwe’s Secretary) and Saviour Akalador (Senior Seminarian)
After a Eucharistic celebration following the bishop’s freedom from abduction, Sunday January 3.

Earlier in his preliminary remarks, the Bishop said: “I am still weak and down but as a priest who is bound to celebrate the Eucharist on a Sunday, I couldn’t afford celebrating a private Mass in the Chapel or go elsewhere to celebrate Mass when my parishioners are aware that I am back. So I came out for us to celebrate and thank God together.”

While thanking God, Bishop Chikwe in his homily advised the congregation that in whatever profession they found themselves and in whatever they do, such should be able to point Christ to people just as John the Baptist pointed Christ to people as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Prelate said, that as Catholics and Christians, our lives should be shining lights to those in darkness, adding that when light comes into a dark environment it dispels the darkness.

The Parish Priest of Annunciation Catholic Church, Very. Rev. Fr. Bona Opara on his part thanked God for the safe return of Bishop Chikwe and others. He thanked the parishioners for their steadfastness in praying for the bishop, while he was in the kidnappers den. Fr. Opara used the forum to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to his parishioners, recalling that the sorrows brought by the abduction of Bishop Chikwe had made them to forget it was the season of Christmas.

Read More here: https://theleader.ng/ive-forgiven-my-kidnappers-bishop-chikwe/?fbclid=IwAR3gvaJ28i_5dmP1cg10Nhz62ExqNXja-l75kaEQ0xexKwQ80RHJTOKBqfY