By Emma Onumah & Gid Ahanonu
Bishop Cyril C. Okorocha, PhD of the Anglican Diocese of Owerri has expressed gratitude to God, the forbears of the diocese and other persons that contributed to the completion of the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL) which was dedicated on May 6, by the Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh.
Bishop Okorocha who was preaching at the CATOL last Sunday, mentioned the members of the Cathedral Building Implementation Team (CBIT) headed by Sir (Engr.) Baldwin Onozie, all of whom, he said, carried out their responsibilities free of charge and “never presented themselves, directly or indirectly as contractors” when the construction work was going on.
The bishop appreciated the efforts of everyone involved right from March 24, 1979, when the foundation stone was laid by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. and Rt. Hon Frederick Donald Coggan, till date.
Adding her voice, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Owerri, Hon. Justice Lady Chioma Nwosu-Iheme PhD, thanked all who contributed to make the Cathedral “a finished product”.
She, however, paid glowing tribute to the bishop and his wife who had to sell their personal land in Owerri worth about 20 million and a brand new vehicle, plunging the entire proceeds into the Cathedral building fund.
According to her “Our Lord Bishop is one in a million” we cannot thank him enough, but pray that God would do so for us”.
In his sermon, the Bishop called on Nigerians, irrespective of their religious inclination to positive in their way of life for positive changes in leadership positions.
He reminded Christians that their body is the temple of God and must not be defiled.
The Prelate posited that, when you are looking for God’s presence in the things man has made, you will end up confusing yourself, adding that the presence of God dispels fear and anxiety, but brings glory to God and joy to man. God, he said, is light and in Him is not what he described in Igbo as “aghugbo” or “abracadaba”.
Bishop Okorocha who noted that, organised religion has become a place of refuge for fugitives, also warned that when your religion leads you to a point that you no longer want to be associated with the light of God, then you are in trouble and needs a change of heart, having enveloped yourself in deceit. God, he noted, set the victims free.
The Prelate enumerated many enduring lessons which, he said, should be learnt by all and sundry as work was going on in the Cathedral. These, according to him, include donations, that were willingly made by the people of God in and out of the Diocese of Owerri, skilled and unskilled labour, freely used towards the project, and for which the Bishop repeatedly declared that “in the day of His power the people would be willing”.
The Lord Bishop used that occasion to organize a brief birthday ceremony for Sir Duke Njiribeakor, a one-time Chancellor of the Diocese for eighteen years, and as one of the committed and enduring Elders of the Cathedral.
Commenting after the birthday cake was cut, another enduring member of the Cathedral, Sir Engr. E.C Iwuanyanwu who congratulated Sir Duke on his birthday, game a brief run-down of the stay about the Cathedral, and how it came to its present stage, and said it was a thing to thank and glorify God.
In remark, retired Justice Duke Njiribeako, who asked Sir Israel Ekezie, another elder of the Church to be present as he was making his own remarks, having been his assistant, as the Secretary of the first-ever sixty-five-man Launching Committee for the Cathedral Building, noted that the late Archbishop Benjamin Nwankiti, was the first Bishop to evolve the idea of building the Cathedral. He disclosed that, out of the 65-member launching committee for the Cathedral Building, only five of them are still alive and one of them is Sir Israel Ekezie.
He thanked God for keeping him alive to witness the dedication of the Cathedral, and on behalf of his wife and family, expressed appreciation to the Bishop and his wife for the honour given to him at the service.
The Old Girls of Queen’s School, Enugu, Owerri Branch, led by Dame Anagam Ononuju were at the service for their thanksgiving. Members of the Cathedral Building Implementation Team (CB1T), chairmanned by Engr. (Sir) Baldwin Onozie were also at the altar for a special prayer by the Bishop and his team of Clergy.