Friday, 4th January 2019 was a day of special significance for Catholics and non-catholic alike of Ihumudumu Community in Ekpoma. On that day, St Gabriel Catholic Church which till then was an out-station under Mary the Queen Parish, Eguare Ekpoma was made on Autonomous Mass Centre by the Chief Shepherd of Uromi Diocese, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun.
In his homily, the Bishop thanked and congratulated the Carmelite priests at Mary the Queen for the progressive development of St. Gabriel Catholic Church. He exhorted that they should never lose sight of the mission of evangelization. As for the parishioners, he encouraged them to be docile to the word of God; to give room for the word to generate and bear good fruits in them. He likewise thanked the faithful for their disposition thus far in making the day’s celebration a reality. The Bishop told the faithful that indeed the day was a day of joy because they will not only become autonomous but will equally have priests of their own whom they can meet anytime since they will live very close to them. For this reason, he encouraged the faithful not to neglect the priests that will be assigned to them. He admonished them to cooperate with the Augustinian priests; work with them and assist them in the work of evangelization
After the homily, the Bishop declared the Church of St. Gabriel, Ihumudumu autonomous. With this declaration, the Bishop handed the keys of the Church to the Order of Saint Augustine. In response, the representative of the Provincial Superior of the Augustinians, expressed their gratitude to God, his Lordship and the entire Diocese for giving them the Mass Centre to administer. He promised that the priests of the Order will discharge their work faithfully. The priest-in-charge was presented and introduced to the people. He is Rev. Fr. Anthony Edukore, OSA.
The worshipping community of St. Gabriel Mass centre, through the laity president, Mr. Francis O. Ogedegbe, expressed gratitude to God for his benevolence towards them. His Lordship, the Bishop of Uromi Diocese was equally appreciated for making the Church an Independent Mass Centre. The laity president affirmed that the presence of a resident priest in their community, as one of the blessings of the autonomous Mass Centre, will touch and bring salvation to many souls. The parish priest Rev. Fr. Eliseus Umeakuana, OCD, his pastoral team, all the Carmelite priests that have worked in the Mass Centre were thanked for their wonderful work in nurturing the Church. Due gratitude was likewise extended to the faithful who have in one way on the other contributed to the growth and development of the Church.
In his vote of thanks, the Vicar General of the Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Omonlumen thanked God for making the day a reality. He equally thanked the Carmelite priests who nurtured the station to the level it has attained. Still on the note of appreciation, he thanked all the clergy and consecrated persons present. He admonished the Ihumudumu community to co-operate with the newly appointed priest-in-charge to enhance the growth of the Church and the development of the community
St. Gabriel Catholic Church was founded in 1955 by Rev. Fr. J.O. Mahon. Since 1996 when the Carmelite fathers came into to administer Mary the Queen parish, the Church has been administered by the Carmelite fathers. At the moment, the new Mass Centre has as a massive building under construction. The project was started by Rev. Fr. Evaristus Ekwem, OCD in 2009 while he was parish priest of Mary the Queen Parish.
The new mass Centre equally has a parcel of land behind the primary school (it used to belong to the church before the government forcefully took it over during the time of military government in Nigeria). The land which is to be used for the rectory was graciously donated by Ihumudumu community
The new independent Mass Centre has been entrusted to the pastoral care of the Augustinian fathers with Rev. Fr. Anthony Edukore, O.S.A. as the first priest-in-charge.
To God be the glory for the great things he has done