The grand finale of the 2021 Owerri Archdiocesan Day Celebration/Odenigbo Lecture took place on Saturday September 3, 2021 at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri/ the Obiri Odenigbo.
Delivering the 2021 Odenigbo lecture with the theme: Otu Chukwu, Otu Obara: Mbikozi Umu Mmadu, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu said; “Peaceful co-existence is the task of all and sundry as it is very necessary for the progress of all”.
“Living harmoniously and peaceably is our collective task and responsibility”, he reiterated even as he acknowledged that living harmoniously and peaceably is not an easy task.
The Lecturer condemned the Diala, Osu, Ohu and Ume caste system in Ala Igbo, and advised Ndi Igbo to do away with such paganish practice. He also condemned the segregation among our people particularly as it concerns one’s place of birth and origin, while insisting that we all are one despite the pigmentation of our skins and where we come from.
Archbishop Nwachukwu, who is the Papal Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, drew the attention of the audience to the fact that Jesus Christ who is universally called Jesus of Nazareth is not actually a Nazarene but from Bethlehem in Judea (his birth place). According to the Papal Nuncio, “Jesus Christ is called Jesus of Nazareth because that was where he lived and grew up with his parents”.
He thereby saw all castigations and divide of where one comes from as baseless, adding that we are but one people and of one fold and blood.
Emphasizing on the need for Christians to love one another, the Odenigbo Lecturer admonished Christians to do away with the old law which is to love one’s neighbor as one loves himself and imbibe the new law and commandment given by Christ which is “I bring you a new commandment, that you should love one another as I have loved you, by this men shall know you are my disciples” (John 13:34).
He encouraged Christians on the need to love like Christ, saying that, such is the only perfect love. Archbishop Nwachukwu frowned at the fact that the missionaries taught us that Christ and the Mother were whites, and encouraged his audience to discountenance such teaching and bear in mind that God created us like himself, as no one can say if God is black or white.
He encouraged Ndi Igbo to live and imbibe the doctrine of the Golden Rule and avoid extremism in the way they live and relate with their brothers and sisters.
The occasion started with a Eucharistic celebration, presided by the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna.
In his preliminary remarks, Archbishop Obinna welcomed Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Most Rev. Augustine Echema, bishop of Aba Diocese and Most Rev. Moses Chikwe, Auxiliary bishop of Owerri Archdiocese. He also appreciated the presence of past Odenigbo lecturers including, Rev. Fr. Prof. John Egbulefu (2001), Dr. IheanachoEmeruwa (2008), Asso. Prof. Florence Anugom (2010),Rev. Fr. Innocent Osuagwu (2006), Rev. Fr. Prof. John Obilor (2015), Rev. Fr. Dr. Longinus Chinagorom (2019), and other dignitaries.
Basking in the euphoria of the 25th anniversary of the Owerri Archdiocesan Day Celebration /Odenigbo lecture series and the 28th anniversary of his episcopacy as a bishop. Archbishop Obinna regretted that the Covid-19 Pandemic did not allow the 2020 edition to hold.
In his homily Most Rev. Moses Chikwe thanked Archbishop Obinna for instituting the Odenigbo Lecture Series in 1996.
Bishop Chikwe spoke on the need for Christians to be united to achieve whatever thing and good purpose they want to achieve. He added that family bonding and unity is the usually desire and prayer of good parents, as this sustains the family linage.
Bishop Chikwe likened the above to what Christ did in the Gospel of the day, wherein the Lord Jesus Christ prayed that his disciples be one in heart and mind, just like he (Christ), the Father and the Holy Spirit are one.
The soft spoken but vocal Bishop Chikwe said, the gospel of the day touched our people both as Ndi Igbo and Christians. The Prelate asked, how united are we as Ndi Igbo? How much do we love ourselves?
He made reference to the instructions of St. Paul in his second latter to the Colossians, wherein the apostle of the Gentiles admonished the Colossians to wear love like a cloth and eschew all vices and old ways of life, such as division and antagonism. According to Bishop Chikwe, the hallmark of a good Christian life is bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving those who wrong us, adding that by so doing men will know we are sons of God. He encouraged Ndi Igbo on the need to love one another and live in peace as a panacea to achieving anything meaningful and worthwhile.
Some dignitaries who graced the 2021 Odenigbo Lecture are; Noble Lady Prof. Viola Onwuliri LAUX KSJI, Hon. Mbakwe Obi (representative of the Imo State Government), Barr. Anthony Emeanna KSJI, (Archdiocesan Pastoral Council Chairman), the Secretary, Prof. Mike Nwachukwu KSM, Prof. Remy Uche KSJI, Prof. Obiajulu Emejulu, Prince Faith Iwuorisha (President Owerri Catholic Men Organization), Mrs. Foster Madu, (Owerri Archdiocesan CWO President), and so many dignities too numerous to mention.
The 2021 Owerri Archdiocesan Day/ Odenigbo started on Friday evening, September 3, with Cultural/ Choral entertainment at the Obiri Odenigbo. The groups that performed at the eve include: St. Michael’s Parish Awa (Wrestling), Igirigindu Women Dance, Umualumaku Uzoagba, St. Michael’s Choir Umuorii Uratta, Oga Best Cultural Music, IsialaUratta, Umuoha, Isiala Ngwa, Udoakpuenyi Theatre Company Owerri, Umu Odenigbo from St. Molumba Parish Owerri, and Heartland Cultural Dance Group Owerri. All the groups were given certificates of participation.