Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor's Iwaji (New Yam) Festival 2019
By Okechukwu Onuegbu
Awka Diocesan Priests, Religious, 2018/2019 out-going and 2019/2020 in-coming episcopal household last Sunday, August 25, 2019 filed out at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral's refectory to witnessed the celebration of Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor's annual iwaji festival. The visibly elated Priests were seen in their numbers adorning all manner of traditional attires.
Speaking immediately after cutting the roast new yam and declaring it open for consumption, the chief shepherd of Awka Diocese, expressed gratitude to God for his mercies and good health and for allowing them to participate in another round of iwaji celebration.
Bishop Ezeokafor who described yam as the king of all crops, said the period of iwaji was actually a period of thanksgiving to God for His benevolence and for granting the farmers bountiful harvest, noting that he (Bishop Ezeokafor) would continue to appreciate culture and tradition, describing it as Igbo's identity.
The Catholic Prelate who ate the roast yam with well garnished sauce in the full glare of those who came to celebrate with him, urged Ndigbo to upheld their cultural heritage, noting that it was only an insane fellow and dimwit that would undermine their culture.
The chief Shepherd of Awka Catholic Diocese announced that the celebration at the Cathedral would be carried out simultaneously in all the parishes in Awka Diocese, noting that he was not alone in the celebration.
The Local Ordinary flanked by the Awka Diocesan Chancellor, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Chidume; Msgr. JPC Nzomiwu, said he saw nothing wrong in people celebrating their culture provided it was not done in a fetish way.
Bishop Ezeokafor called on government at all levels to give culture a facelift by providing incentive and also to pay adequate attention to the celebrants.
In their separate speeches, the Awka Diocesan Chancellor, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Chidume; Cathedral Administrator, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Matthew Attansey and the Bishop Ezeokafor's secretary, Rev. Fr. Dr. Michael Monwe harped on humility and diligence.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ezeokafor was on the occasion received 2019/2020 Episcopal Household Seminarians (Two seniors and nine junior seminarians). This is even as the out-gone seminarians who served in the year 2018/2019 appreciated their priests with gifts as approved by Bishop Ezeokafor
The out-gone seminarians are as follows: Seniors- Obiagba Nelso (Projects); Odilimmuo Innocent (CADADD) and Emmanuel Onnkwo (Priests Welfare Home). Juniors- Aso Kingsley, Okechukwu Joseph, Amanchukwu Patrick, Paul Obiora, Okafor Johnbosco, Okafor Pascal, Okoye John Paul, Obiagboso Patrick and Anaeto Pascal
Newly received seminarians are as follows: Seniors, Chibueze Damian (Project) and Igbanugo Kingsley (CADADD). Juniors: Arinze Kierian, Nwankwo Stanley, Abasili John, Onuzulike John Bosco, Onyeka Collins, Ozoemena Joseph, Ikeorah Shedrack, Udora Festus and Mmaduadichie Bernardine.