For everything under the sun there is a season and for every season, there is a reason. The essential reason the whole of Uromi Diocese gathered at St Matthias Catholic Church, Ewohimi, on Sunday, 15th December 2019, was to celebrate Jesus Christ, the New Born King of the universe, whose birth anniversary we celebrate annually on the 25th of December. He is the sole reason for the season.
Uromi Diocesan Christmas Carols though not new in itself, took a new look with a remarkable stance, with the level of involvement and the active and full participation of the people who came from the nook and cranny of Uromi Diocese and in particular, Ewohimi community where the Carols were held.
Prior to the very day of the great event, the diocesan choir whose membership cut across all the parishes and Mass centers in Uromi Diocese converged at the venue two days well ahead of the time for serious preparations. This already guaranteed the overall success of the great event. The 2019 Diocesan Christmas Carols was well anticipated and long awaited with avid interest especially as it was to be held at the home parish of our Lordship, the Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, the Bishop of Uromi Diocese. In view of having a glorious celebration, the choristers left no stone unturned in their preparations. Having come in on Friday, there was an intense rehearsal which only heightened on Saturday and came to its terminus on Sunday after the 8:30 am Mass. By then, the Diocesan choir was fully prepared and ready for the great event.
At 2:00 pm when the guests began to come into the church, it could be palpable that the great event was already sure to be successful. In a very short while, the church was filled to capacity. It was surely a day to beware of, but unlike the Ides of March, which Julius Caesar was warned of in the street of Rome before his death in the Capitol, the melody of the voices which would later sing, ‘You better mind’ among other songs, the 15th of December and would resonate bliss and happy consciousness for a long while.
His Lordship, the Bishop arrived the venue in the company of his priests and. It was good to be home. Upon entering into the church, he savoured the beautiful scenery of his home Parish. At about 4:00pm the procession began. At the head of the long procession were the Diocesan choir members with their shimmering white upon black dress with a touch of red, and on their faces were angelic smiles as they led the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Closely following were the clergy among whom were Rev. Fr. Hilary Odenore, the Chancellor of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Joseph Ehimen, the Dean of Ubiaja Deanery, Rev. Fr. Francis Okhah, the
Diocesan Choir Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Jude Otaigbe, the Parish Priest of St. Matthias Catholic Church, Ewohimi and host of the Carols. At the rear of the procession came his Lordship flanked, to the right by His Royal Majesty, Lord Peter Ojenoifoh Ojeifoh II.
When the procession reached the church, an advent Hymn which is traditional to the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was sung by the choir, after the opening prayer by Fr. Joseph Ehimen. From one pew to the other people were seated in their tens savouring the melody of the songs. Head gears of varying textures yet red acclaimed the readiness of the people to this much awaited day. The church has for long been pack full to capacity and numbering the faces for those who should know, they were not only members of St Matthias Catholic Church; non Catholics and persons from neighbouring Parishes also converged to grace the celebration. Even a child would easily spot her Royal Majesty in the throng; her stylish Christmas cap and designer eye glasses marked her out. Also in attendance were the chiefs of Ewohimi kingdom in their numbers. Rev. Fathers Emmanuel Umahonlen, Andrew Eilenbaluagbon, Leonard Elomien, Augustine Okosun, Francis Abubokhale, Gregory Abuya, the Bishop’s Secretary and Joshua Irebhude were also in attendance. The Diocesan Laity President, Hon. Joseph Abhulimen and the Diocesan CMO President, Mr. S.A. Ukhurebor also graced the occasion.
The readings (lessons) were taken in both English and Esan languages by some selected members of the congregation. Each lesson was followed by some melodious renditions by the Diocesan choir which attracted intriguing applauds from all those present. At the end of the 9th lesson, a short but breathtaking Christmas message was delivered by His Lordship, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, OSA. In the message, his Lordship accentuated the essence of Christmas Carols and the purpose of taking it to different parishes every year instead of having it celebrated at the Cathedral every year. This he said enables other Christ’s faithful who ordinarily would not be able to make their way down to the Cathedral to experience it. He emphasized the fact that the coming of Jesus is a special occasion for all of us to meditate on the mystery of salvation.
The vote of thanks at the end of the Carols was given by the Diocesan Choir Chaplain, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Okhah. He expressed his unalloyed sentiment of gratitude to God for the convivial environment and conducive atmosphere; then to the Bishop for making out time to be present, to the King of Ewohimi kingdom for gracing the occasion; to the host, Rev. Fr. Jude Otaigbe for his fatherly care and support; all the Choristers present for all the resources they put in to ensure a
successful outing and of course, to all those present especially the Ewohimi people, for their time and commitment.
As the celebration came to its ultimate terminus, His Lordship, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, OSA announced that the next Christmas Carols will at Igueben deanery and will be hosted by St Joseph Catholic Church, Igueben. Thereafter, His Lordship gave his benediction and all departed with great joy and heightened anticipation of a glorious Christmas celebration. May the joy of Christmas fill our homes and usher us into a prosperous New year. Amen.