…Thrills audience with drama on beheading of John the Baptist
Knights of St. John International (KSJI) Holy Cross Commandery 422 Owerri and their Queen of Heaven Ladies Auxiliary (LAUX 350) last Sunday, August 29, commemorated the beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of the Ancient and Noble Order.
Distinguished personalities present included: Noble Brother Prof. Remy Uche, Grand President, Owerri Grand Commandery of KSJI, former Grand President, Noble Brother Prof. Ezekiel Ihionu, Worthy President KSJI 422, Major Fabian Osuji, Respected President of LAUX 350, Lady Patience Ocho and District 8 Commander, Noble Bro Fidelis Akuchie.
Last Sunday’s celebration started with a Holy Mass at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri presided over by the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Odoemena, who concelebrated with his assistant, Rev. Fr. Martin Agu.
Preaching the homily, Fr. Odoemena charged Christians, especially knights of the church, to stop following Human Traditions which neglect God’s instructions, for which Christ in that day’s gospel rebuked the Pharisees. The priest urged them to be courageous, speak truth to power and like St. John the Baptist, to live by the Word of God which alone gives life.
In addition to gifts by Commandery 422 and LAUX 350 during offertory procession, knights and ladies also brought special gifts, mostly clothes and cash to assist the chief shepherd, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna with his Charity efforts, the Eu-Care.
Speaking at the end of Mass, Worthy President, Major Osuji invited all to the Obiri Odenigbo to watch knights and ladies dramatize the mission and beheading of John the Baptist. He announced a donation of N115,000 in support of the 2021 Harvest/promotion efforts of the Maria Assumpta Wing of the Parish and support to encourage the choir. Noble Bro. Remy Uche, Owerri Grand President, who graced the KSJI 422 Feast, supported the commandery’s donations with a personal donation of N50,000 and N200,000 on behalf of the Owerri Grand Commandery.
The second phase of the celebration was the drama at the Obiri Odenigbo, which recalled the birth, mission and beheading of John the Baptist, at the orders of King Herod.
The final phase of the celebration took place at the KSJI Complex and was chaired by the Grand President, Noble Uche.
The highpoint was the presentation of Grand Commandery Merit Award plaques to Noble Bro Frank Amakwe and Brother Leo Odionyemma collected for him by Major Osuji.
Speaking at the occasion, the Grand President, Noble Uche commended KSJI 422 for organizing the feast which he said further confirms its leading role as the Mother commandery. On his part, Major Osuji thanked Sir Anthony Nkwocha-led Planning Committee for a job well done.
In an exclusive interview with The Leader, Major Osuji said that John the Baptist was a man of utmost humility and valour.
“Fired by courage and in defence of God’s Commandments, he dared the consequence and condemned King Herod publicly for coveting his brother, Philip’s wife – Herodias,” saying that it was for his audacity, that King Herod beheaded him (John), to please Herodias.
The Worthy President said that the church commemorates John’s beheading annually on 29th August and “as followers of John the Baptist under the umbrella of Catholic Knighthood, we join the universal church not only to commemorate the feast today, but to add life to it by imitation (Drama) of what transpired in the circle, linking John the Baptist – Herodias – Salome and John the Baptist head on a platter.
According to Major Osuji, the essence of the drama is to encourage the faithful to always speak truth to power and or take precipitate actions even to the point of laying down their lives for their faith, particularly now that the Church in Nigeria is under heavy persecution.