By Innocent Osebhajimende Evienbor
November 10th, 2018 marked another milestone in the life of Stella Maris Parish, as the Parishioners gathered around the parish Priest Rev. Fr. Akhigbe Wilson Uadiale, Rev. Fr. Dr. Samson Imhangbe (Priest in residence) and other priests who visited to appreciate God for his divine provision as the parish marked in a very special way, ten years of existence. The auspicious event was also attended by parishioners from the out-stations and some friends from other denominations. The parishioners were all dressed in their customized white shirt to mark the long
We need not travel to Sambisa forest to know that the Catholic Church of Stella Maris Abia and the fathers House were single-handedly built by, Dr. and Mrs. Christopher Abebe and handed over to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Uromi. It was formally erected and given the status of Parish on the 18 of October 2008 by his Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine O. Akubeze (as he then was) now, the Archbishop of Benin City Archdiocese. It is interesting to note that Stella-Maris parish was carved out from St. Mary’s Parish Iruekpen with a view to bringing the gospel closer to the good people of God. The church had as its first Parish Priest Very Rev. Fr. John Akhidue. Other priests who have worked here are Rev. Fr. Peter Alli (2008-2011), Rev Fr. Dr, Benjamin Ogbeifun (Parish Priest) and assisted by Rev. Fr. Damian Esene (2010-2015) and currently Rev. Fr. Akhigbe Wilson (Parish Priest) and Rev. Fr.Dr. Samson Imhangbe (Priest in Residence).
Through the pastoral commitment of the priests at the service of this Church, the Church has expanded. In addition to administering the two outstations: St Patrick’s Catholic Church Uke, and St. Paul’s Catholic Church Ujemen that were already in existence as at the time of its creation, the church now has a new outstation, Our Lady of Lourdes Idumebo.
Celebrating this anniversary means a great deal to us because we can look back and learn from our 10-year history. We have lessons of endurance and encouragement from the past which dispose us to look forward
with hope while working together in unity as a community of faith. Prior to the day of thanksgiving, on Wednesday, 7th November 2018 at 4:00 pm, there was recitation of the Rosary, talk and celebration of the Holy Mass at Stella Maris Catholic Church Abia Iruekpen. The captivating and inspiring talk was given by Rev. Fr. Benedict lsiraojie who worked in the Parish before as a Deacon. He admonished the congregation not to make distinctions among one another, but to see their fellow Christians as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. Still speaking, he reminded the worshippers to always learn to appreciate God for whatever he has done in their lives and also they should resist the devil at all times. He added that we should talk to people and not talk about them.
The activities on the 2nd day of the celebration, Thursday, 8th November were at one of the outstations (St Paul’s Catholic Church Ujemen). There was Adoration, Praise and Worship, Talk by the Parish priest and celebration of Mass. On the 3rd day, Friday, 9th November 2018, there was a novelty Match between men and women in the Parish and friendly football competition between the youths of the Parish and those of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, lruekpen. The high point of the Celebration was the grand finale held on Saturday, 10th November 2018 at the main station. The Priests present were Rev. Fr. Wilson Akhigbe and Rev. Fr. Dr. Samson Imhangbe. The three Catechists of the Parish: Catechist Edward Ighenegbale, Catechist Pius Imomoh and Catechist Israel Abumere and the Knights and Ladies of St Mulumba graced the occasion. While the people sat in an atmosphere of silence
during the homily, Rev. Fr. Moses Oboh began by giving thanks to God for his protection, provision and graces upon the entire parishioners all through the last ten years. He gave a chronological overview of the development of the church. As part of the celebration, there was a presentation of Awards/Certificate of Appreciation to deserving parishioners who have served the Church meritoriously in the last ten years. In his remark, the Parish Priest added that all are recognized and highly appreciated and that the awards/certificates were just our human way of encouraging the faithful since it is only God that can actually reward us completely.
After the Holy Mass, there was refreshment/entertainment. This featured drama presentation by St. Mary Parish Iruekpen, Cultural Dance display amongst others. While these were going on, people cheered, laughed, whistled, clapped and had great fun. The entire celebration went well. To God be the glory.