The Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, was last Thursday, November 21, filled to capacity and overflowing with Christ’s faithful from all walks of life, who came to be part of Rev. Fr. Dr. Mark Njoku’s funeral, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri, who died recently aboard an aircraft from Germany to the United States.
His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri, who presided at the burial Mass, concelebrated with the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo, dozens of monsignori and hundreds of priests from Owerri Archdiocese and beyond.
The Archbishop of Onitsha, the bishop of Umuahia and (Administrator of Ahiara), as well as bishops of Orlu and Okigwe sent representatives to the occasion.
In his speech, Archbishop Obinna expressed sadness at the sudden death of Fr. Mark, who died on October 14, disclosing how difficult it was for the Archdiocese to get his body back to Nigeria. He however thanked immensely all those whose relentless efforts made the task to be accomplished in the end. He placed on record the sacrifices of Rev. Fr. John Nkwocha, resident in the United States, a priest from Owerri Archdiocese and former student of the deceased, at whose invitation Fr. Mark was going to America for medical treatment.
Others include: Nigerians holding sensitive positions at the Embassy, as well as priests of Owerri Archdiocese in America who paid for flying the corpse back to Nigeria. Within Nigeria, many others helped, including Rev. Fr. Dr. Ralph Madu, who facilitated the waiver and Death Certificate issued by the Federal Ministry of Health as a condition for Fr. Mark’s body to be allowed to be brought into the country.
Preaching the homily, Rev. Fr. Dr. Gilbert Alaribe extolled the sterling qualities of Late Fr. Mark, who spent most of his years teaching in various seminaries, which he called on fellow Christians to emulate.
According to him, the late priest used his God-given talents to enrich the world around him, as shown by his impact on the lives of his former students many of who are today priests. “The parishioners of the two churches he was in charge namely, St. Mark Parish New Owerriand Holy Cross Parish Aladinma will always live to recount what a blessing late Father Mark was to them.
“The deceased had a deep appreciation of the gift of life, always caring for the needs of others more than his own. This humane and dedicated priest of God and servant of the church, a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary always showed absolute obedience to all directives by the church,” said Fr. Alaribe.
In their funeral oration signed by Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Oha, Chancellor and Secretary of the Archdiocese and read by Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Njoku, the Presbyterium of the Archdiocese described their late colleague as a great counselor and lover of peace, a good mediator who could calm heady situations. He was very compassionate and believed that church collections should be shared to the poor and needy.
In his remark before conducting the rite of the Final Commendation, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Obodo condoled with the Archdiocese of Owerri, describing Late Fr. Mark, his former teacher as a Father to all who passed through him. The internment took place at the priests’ Cemetery.
Late Fr. Mark who hailed from Egbelu Obube in Owerri North LGA died of blood clothing and weakened heart. His Month’s Mind Mass will take place at SS Peter and Paul Egbelu Obube on Thursday November 28.
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