~ Mark feast without a priest to celebrate Mass
By Our Correspondent
The lingering crisis between the Holy Ghost Fathers at St Martin of Tours Parish, Ihiala and the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Reverend Jonas Benson Okoye has taken a new dimension with the embattled parishioners demanding the creation of Ihiala Catholic Diocese out of Nnewi Diocese.
They said the new diocese is over due considering the history and growth of the Catholic Church in the area.
“We are aware of how jittery some people are over this call, but let it be known that the call for Ihiala Diocese is not targeted at any set of people. At God’s own time, it will come to pass”, one of the outspoken parishioners said on Monday.
This came as they marked the feast of their patron saint weekend without any priest to celebrate Mass for them.
The feast falls on November 11 and is usually celebrated with pomp and pageantry, but the event this year was without Eucharistic consecration as there was no priest to preside.
Rather, the parishioners conducted the three services of 6am, 8am and the 10 am themselves after which the various groups entertained the large audience with dances.
Secretary of the concerned parishioners, Chief Nonye Chukwu, who told the Razor that he took part in the 10 am service, said that every aspect of Sunday service was fulfilled except the Holy Communion due to the withdrawal of “faculty” from the resident Holy Ghost Fathers by the Bishop.
Chukwu said: The Parishioners’ solidarity was overwhelming. Out-stations were represented as they played enviable roles boldly registering their presence. It was a carnival of sorts.
“CWO and CMO delegates held march-pasts with the CWO Women’s band providing music. A cake was cut to mark the occasion.
“Were it not for the problem we have with the Bishop, it would have been incomprehensible to realize that the Laity Council could successfully run a parish, including conducting services, collecting offerings, thanksgiving items, wedding ceremonies, burials and baptisms.
“The Laity also run such services as electricity, water supply and general environmental upkeep.
“Launching for the church upkeep was held too. This was to provide for workers’ wages, maintenance bills, diesel costs and the overall physical upkeep bills.”