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Friday, May 24, 2019, will ever remain memorable in the annals of the Catholic Church in Owerri, particularly; at the populous Ugwu Orji and Works Layout axis, being the day the young, vibrant, and imposing Blessed Tansi multi-million naira ultra modern church was dedicated to God.

The epoch-making event, was the climax of several months of relentless efforts at funds raising to round off work on the church building, as well as prepare Christ’s faithful spiritually to draw the graces from the once-in-a-lifetime of a parish ceremony.

Before the Chief celebrant, His Grace, Most Rev Anthony J.V. Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri arrived about 9am, the gigantic church was filled to capacity with parishioners, friends and well wishers, as well as the clergy and the religious from far and near.

No sooner had the chief shepherd arrived and the parish priest, Very Rev Fr Dr Benedict Oparaugo and members of the parish pastoral council paid their respects, than the clergy dressed in their vestments processed to the altar.

The high point of the first phase of this solemn ceremony was the official handover of the church to the Archbishop, by presenting to him both the building plan and key of the chalice-shaped church. The Chairman of the parish pastoral council, Chief Isaac Uzoagwa explained to him of their purpose of building the church and reason for the way it was designed.

The chief celebrant then prayed, calling on all present to open their hearts to the Word of God so that the baptism they had received will unite them in love through the Holy Spirit. Then followed the blessing and sprinkling of Holy water on both the people and all the church.

The second phase was the celebration of the Word of God – the two readings and the gospel, while the third phase was the prayer of dedication and anointing of the church. The climax of this phase being the Litany of the Saints, the anointing of the alter with Holy oil by the chief shepherd and all the pillars of the church. Then came the burning of incense in the large incense pot. Incensing of the altar, and the entire church, covered by its smoke and sweet aroma. The wiping of the alter, followed by its dressing and lightening of the candles, first at the altar and paschal candle and the rest of the candles at strategic points inside the church.

Preaching the homily, the Most Rev. Obinna, called on Christ’s faithful to embrace the life of holiness revealed to us by Jesus Christ, who is God from God, and Light from Light.
He urged them to appreciate the real presence of Christ who gave us His body and blood in the Blessed Sacrament present in the newly dedicated church. Because of its sanctity, a dedicated church must be treated with reverence.

He said the dedication of our church challenges us to be holy too as true sons and daughters of God. This holiness should reflect in our homes, places of work and wherever we find.

Speaking at the end of the Mass, the parish priest, Fr. Oparaugo, thanked the Archbishop for his love for the parish. He placed on record of the numerous efforts the chief shepherd had made to encourage the parish to grow. The parish priest recalled with gratitude, the pioneering roles of such priests as Very Rev. Msgr. Anthony Eke, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Onyeocha, Fr. Barth Okere, other priests of the Mother church Immaculate Heart of Mary Orji, and his own assistants.

In a welcome address, the PPC Chairman, Chief Uzoagwa thanked the Archbishop for his love for the parish since its inception. The chairman gave kudos to the parish priest, his assistants, Parish Council, Building Committee and all parishioners for the speedy growth of the parish within 10years. The achievements include: modern church building, halls, nursery/primary schools, father’s house and grotto as well as two outstations.

It would be recalled that Blessed Tansi church, which was a station of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Orji, developed into a station. Archbishop Obinna, who recognized and gave it the name, raised it to the status of parish on April 3, 2007, posted the pioneer priest, Fr. Oparaugo to it on February 7, 2008 and laid the church building foundation stone on January 23, 2010.

The ceremony was rounded off with the blessing of a grotto built and donated to the parish by some parishioners who chose to remain anonymous.

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