Here is a concise history of Catholicism in Achi land. Geographically speaking. Achi occupies a central position in Igbo land. Achi land is inhabited by on ethnic group of Igbo of two racial stocks. Thus, we have 12 autonomous towns in Achi clan, strictly speaking; and by far more than this number, loosely speaking. Achi has gained a pride of place in Igbo land and beyond in terms of culture and religion, commerce and industry, education and in socio-political spheres of life. The Achi connotes vivacity, boldness, enterprise and gaiety. Catholicism came to Achi land soon after the unsuccessful military expedition of Achi people's army against the better-armed British colonial forces of Enuguabo, ufuma (in present day Anambra State). The battle of Enuguabo Ufuma was followed respectively by the British advance, occupation, and systematic subjugation of Achi land and people.
It was in 1918 (well after that colonial war) that Warrant Chief Onuzulike Ume-a-Maka of Nkpokolo town (then village) brought into Achi land the Catholic Mission that established the church which, it was generally believed, was also in favour of his open ridicule and demonstrative rejection of the English Church Missionary Society (CSM) which had shown its presence in Achi a little earlier. Thus, the Catholic church journeyed from the relatively distant land of Eke (in present day Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State) by the instrumentality of a potentate, Warrant Chief Onyeama Onwusi of Eke, who was a son-in-law to Chief Onuzulike. Mr. Samuel Abbah from Ogbunike (now in Anambra State) served as both a school teacher and a catechist for the young church while Father Marcel Grandin (a French priest) served as a pioneer missioner. The school/church establishment was first located at Chief Onuzulike's compound, then at Ekegbo market square in Nkpokolo from where it went to rest at her present site at Agu-nwa-Eke still in Nkpoloko by the directives of Father Grandin in 1919.
Among the early converts who bore strong witness of faith to Christ in their various ways were Nathaniel ejeagbasi, Edmund Aneke, Matthias Ifo, Madam Lucy Onyemaaluche Madu (nicknamed Mama Uka), David Chukwu and Bernard Dilibe (Nkpokolo); others were George Udeogu, Alfred Zulike (Amanpunato); then Moses Udegbala (Enuguagu) (then Umuoli), Aaron Okolo and Isaiah Madu (Adu). Pius Jideofor of Egwu town took the church to his home town (then village) in 1928. Achi has two Catholic schools, namely Corpus Christi College, Achi, and Our Lady Rainboe of Peace Comprehensive Secondary School, Achi and a hospital, namely, Achi Joint Hospital Achi. Achi has also produced many priests and a good number of Reverend Sisters. History as complied from living sources by: Madu, Jim (Indigene, civil servant and educationist) Under the local church authority of: Rev. fr. Batholomew Mary Aniebo (Parish Priest, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Achi)
The list of Members of Pastoral Council and their Positions, as of Wednesday 11 September, 2013.
1. Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Mary Aniebo Chairman/Parish Priest
2. John Okwu 1st Vice Chairman
3. Denis Nwokedi 2nd Vice Chairman
4. Monday Onaba Secretary
5. Innocent Chukwuegbo Financial Secretary
6. Mrs. Agatha Okwu Treasurer
7. Hyacinth Iloge Chairman, St. Thomas Amankpunato
8. Charles Chukwugbobe Vice Chairman Amankpunato
9. Emmanuel Udeogu 2nd Vice Chairman Amankpunato
10. Ndidi Igwe Representative, Pious Societies
11. Sebastian Chukwu Member
12. Mrs. Teresa Chukwuma Member
13. Mrs. Amaka Ebo President Parish CWO
14. Mrs. Comfort Obiajulu Chairlady CWO, St. Mary's Station
15. Thankgod onyebueke Chairman CMO, Christ the King Station Agbadala
16. Kevin Onuora Station Catechist, Christ the King Station Agbadala
17. Simon Uzor Parish Catechist
18. Christian Ibe Station Cathechist, St. Peter Isikwe
19. Patricia Udeonwu Chairman CWO, Amankpunato
20. Tobias Okechukwu Station Catechist , St. Thomas Amankpunato
21. Justina Ilodinso Member St. Thomas Amankpunato
22. Charles Uche Member St. Thomas Amankpunato
23. Innocent Uzochukwu Chairman, C. M. O., Enugwu-Achi zone
24. Mrs. Jane Achiekwelu Chairman, Agbobodoukwu Zone)
25. Jacinta Oha Member Enugwu-Achi Zone
26. Mrs. Stella Oha Member Enugwu-Achi Zone
27. Boniface Okechukwu Asst Secretary, Parish
CMO = Catholic Men Organisation
CWO = Catholic Women Organisation
Achi (St. Mary's)
Adu Achi (St. Gabriel)
Akwu Achi (St. John of God)
Oji-River (St. Anthony's)
Enugu Agu-Achi (St. Theresa's)
Egwu – Achi (St. Michael's
In 1923 the C.M.S. at Adu completely folded up and its former members, manser4vers, David Chukwu, Aaron Okolo and Isaiah Madu became converts to the Catholic Church. Later in 1934, St. Gabriel's Catholic Church Adu station was opened. It was then under the administrative of St. Theresa's Parish Mmaku. By the year 1974, St. Mary's Parish Achi was caved out of St. Theresa's Parish Mmaku, St. Gabriel's Catholic Station Adu was under St. Mary's Parish Achi with other stations until 29th day of September 2005 when Awgu Diocese was erected. By the end of 2006, the first Bishop of Awgu Diocese, his Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Okoye considered Adu and Ehuhe stations worthy of being a parish. He then created St. Gabriel's Catholic Church Adu-Achi for the two communities.
Also, he sent a new parish priest in the person of Rev. Father Lawrence Chidi Nnamani as the pionner parish priest. On the 10th day of December 2006, St. Gabriel's Parish Adu-Achi was officially inaugurated with a Holy Mass presided over by the parish priest Rev. Father Lawrence Chidi Nnamani. We are happy and indeed grateful that the Almighty God has already from the young Adu parish even before its inauguration in 2006 produced some good labourers to the Lords vineyard. On Aug. 1998, our son Rev. Father Stanislaus Chukwu Ilo from Adu-Achi was ordained a catholic priest, followed by Rev. Father Basil Ezika who was ordained a catholic priest on 16th July 2005. On 17th day August 2010, Rev. Father Leander Chinonso Eze was ordained a catholic priest. On 4th day August 2012, another father has been added on the numerical growth of the labourer in the Lords vineyard in Adu parish in the person of Rev. Felix Echezonachukwu Eze. The young parish St. Gabriel's Parish Adu-Achi has also fared well in their young girls' profession Religious life. The first woman Religious produced from the area is Rev. Sr. Bridget Chukwu from Ehuhe, though (late). Others are:- Rev. Sr. Mary Geraldine Chime-Adu, Rev. Sr. Justina Chukwu from Adu as well. As we thank God for his blessings towards Adu-Ach Parish, we hope to harness our human resources together and work from the establishment of God's kingdom in Adu Parish.
Below are list of the Parish Councellors:
1. Rev. Fr. Kevin Nnamchi : Parish Priest
2. Ogbuefi Okolo Silas : Vice Chairman
3. Mr. Unamelu Jacob : Secretary
4. Mr. Chukwuegbe Joseph : Asst. Secretary
5. Mrs. Okah Felicia : Treasurer
6. Mr. Ejibe Edwin : Fin. Secretary
7. Mrs. Eze Gladys :Parish President C.W.O
8. Mr. Ejibe Edwin : Parish President C.M.O
9. Master Onyeji Oliver :Parish President C.Y.O.N
10. Mr. Madu Romanus : Central Catechist
11. Mr. Chukwuaja Innocent : Catechist St. John's Station Ehuhe
12. Mr. Chukwuakasie Sabastine : Parish Provost
13. Mr. Ezika Michael : Chairman Adu Station
14. Mr. Okolo James : Chairman Ehehu Station
15. Chief Clementus Maduakor : Chairman Adu C.M.O
16. Mr. Eze Felix : Chairman Ehehu Station C.M.O
17. Mrs. Ejibe Agnes : Adu Station C.W.O President
18. Mrs. Okolo Margreth : Ehehu C.W.O. President
19. Mr. Ejibeofor Tobias : Parish C.M.O Sec
20. Miss. Imelda Ezika : Parish Sec C.Y.O.N
21. Mr. Ezeadu Comas : Zonal Leader Oronator zone
22. Mr. Chukwuegbe Joseph : Zonal Leader Umualugwa zone
23. Mrs. Igbo Paschaline : Zonal Leader Umuogwudu zone
24. Mr. Umeano Festus : Zonal Leader Umuezie zone
25. Mrs. Onyeachonam Francisca : Zonal Leader Ezinator zone
26. Mrs. Maduabuchi Josephat : Zonal Leader Umarugwu zone
27. Ozo Onyebueke Celestine : Zonal Leader Achara zone
28. Mr. Eze Felix : Zonal Leader Umuagu zone
Before the1923 there was only one church in Enuguagu Achi that was Anglican Church. The founding fathers of the present St. Theresa's Church Enuguagu Achi, Late Moses Udegbara and some of his followers were all members of the Anglican Church.
In January 1923, a strong wind of change in religious belief began to blow. By then Moses Udeagbara conceive the idea of establishing the Catholic Church in his own family circle, Umuori. Quickly he switched over to St. Mary's Church Mkpokoro Achi, the only place where the Catholic Church was operating. His movement to Mkpokoro attracted many other members and they broke away with him, attending Church services and Catechism classes there.
As time went on, Moses made series of contact with some well meaning Christians and the Rev. Fr. In-charge Eke Parish, Rev. Fr. Davy. They gave him words of encouragement and he continued with his companions. Every new day came with new adherents into their fold. Within a short time there was tremendous increase in number. These formed the pioneer members of the present St. Theresa's Parish, Enuguagu Achi. Among these were Moses Udeagbara himself, Alphonsus Ojiako, Mathew Atuegbu, Lawrence Onwuzulu, Joseph Oha, Ngwu Eze, Elelia Obu, Isaac Uhara, Michael Okoro, Thomas Atuegbu, Jerome Onyevu, Alfred Ude, Daniel Ude, Philip Ude, Wilfred Ezeokpube and Celesus Unuegbu (all of blessed memories). A few women also joined them later.
They were Late Elizabeth Onu, Esther Aha and Catherine Oji. Only one of the pioneer members is still a life, Ozo B. U. Madu. Today he still stands as a living legend. From the year 1923, Moses and his members were eager to come home to erect their own church. In order to actualize their dream, they made several appeal and representation to the then clan head of Enuguagu, i.e the Warrant Chief.
Unfortunately their appeals were treated with ignominy because he vowed never to allow the Catholic Church to grow in his domain. This struggle continued for over four years without success instead, they were subjected to all sorts of harassment, intimidation, malicious charges in the court. Sometimes they were force carry loads for Government Officers to distant places. All these inhuman treatment and brutal acts were aimed to working them to unconditional surrender. But in spite of their lean resources, they still remained steadfast and prayerful, with Rev. Fr. Davy always on their side.
In 1927, the Warrant Chief was persuaded to grant the opening of the Catholic Church in Umuori. The news was received with immense joy and jubilation. Immediately a site was chosen. A parcel of land was bought and cleared. In July the same year, without waste of time a hut, made of palm leaves (AWALA) was erected as a miniature church. Later the church was change to grass house to make room for a more comfortable accommodation.
In 1928 the first teacher Mr. Okonkwo Michael, from Umuabi Udi was posted to the Mission still under name R.C.M. Umuori.
Through the church had been established and classes held, the ugly incidence of disturbance from the Chief and his men still continued, culminating in constant insults, public assaults. In the face of these problems, Moses and his men continued to enjoy the moral and financial support of other Rev. Frs., like Fox, Witney, Maury and Brusanham. With steady increase in number these formidable founding members became more encouraged and always prompt in action.
In 1937 the battle with the Chief came to end through timely intervention of Rev. Fr. Giltnan who advised the teacher in charge of the mission Mr. Philip Ifo from Oghe to document their ordeals and forward same to Government at Enugu. This he did after weeks, a stern warning came to the chief to leave the people to practice the religion of their choice. This R.C.M umuori Achi (fondly called Egbo-Eze) (now St. Theresa's) came to stand, all to the pride and glory of unyielding founder and his undaunted followers.
oday, when we look back to the early years of St. Theresa's Church vis-à-vis her present position, we say "BRAVO" to the early founders, because their miniature building has today given birth to a vibrant Church, with one out-stations; St. John's Stations Church, Ihe Achi and One Mass Centre – Assumption Umuowulu. Her structural, human and spiritual developments are in bounds.
The following are the Past parish Priests:
1. Rev. Fr. Vin Onyekelu
2. Rev. Fr. Hilary Okeke
3. Rev. Fr. Tony Ezekwu
Parish Pastoral Council executive:
Rev. Fr. Kingsly Ude : Chairman
Hon. P. I Nebeh : Vice-Chairman
Mr. J. O. Meputaife : Secretary
Mrs. Teresa Mgbeadilo : Asst. Secretary
Mrs. Garce Iloegbuba : Treasurer
Mr. Tobias Ezedozie : Financial Secretary
Mrs. Eucharia Oleforo : Provost/PRO
Mr. D. J. Onyebueke : Parish Catechist
Mr. V. I Nwankwo : President C.M.O.
Ezinne Virgy Onuegbu : President C.W.O.
Master Valentine Oleforo : President CYON
1. St. Peter : Mr. Edwin Udeogu
2. St. Augustine : Mr. Raymond Onwukwe
3. St. Anthony : Mr. Hycienth Chukwuenye
4. St. John : Nze Ben Ejimofor
5. St. Paul : Mr. Tobias Ezedozie
6. St. Michael : Mr. Andrew Chukwukelu
7. St. Matthew : Mr. Benneth Ilodinobi
8. St. Leonard : Mr. Andrew Uhara
9. St. Patrick : Hon. P. I. Nebeh
10. St. Monica : Mr. V. I. Nwankwo
11. St. Philomina : Lady Neoma A. C. Chukwunyelu
12. St. Jude : Mrs. Grace Iloegbuba
Rev. Fr. Kingsely Ude : Chairman
Mr. J. O. Meputaife : Vice-Chairman
Hon. P. I Nebeh : Secretary
Contact Email:email@example.comGENESIS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN OJI RIVER (ST. MICHAEL'S EGWU-ACHI)
The spring-board of the catholic church activities and spread in oji River urban community is the "celebrated" St. Michael' s Catholic Church in the leper colony founded about 1937. From the colony, the church was transferred to Dodo and its contiguous community of Oji NATO.This church was administered from Awka parish in Onitsha Diocese .With the influx of civil servants following the establishment of the Oji River Thermal power station, a Catholic church/school was also founded at Ugwunzu/ Agbalenyi. This mission was administered by an expatriate catholic priest (Rev.Father Brady) from Udi.
There was no Catholic institution at MILE TWO and this presented much difficulty for the few Catholics residing there because St.Mary's Achi w3as quite a good distance to go for worship, Both Dodo and Agbalenyi Catholic churches were not near either .But as God designed it, by the magnanimity of successive principal of the Rural Health Training school situated at MILE TWO, the Catholics, few in number, held church services in the classroom designed to accommodate about forty students. Here also the Anglicans resident in MILE TWO .used alternatively with the Catholics on Sunday's .By about 1964.the parish priest from Maku Parrish began to minister to the Catholic in MILE TWO .The first expatriate priest to celebrate Holy Mass in MILE TWO WAS Rev.Father Sweeney from ST. THERESA'S PARISH MAKU.
When the Regional Health Education Unit was opened in the Rural Health Education Training premises, the Chief Health Education Officer, Mr Ekejekwu Raphael Dallas (an Anglican) allowed the Catholics to use the house for their worship.
As the catholic community in oji River grew, the zeal for expansion also grew .The three section of the community –MILE II, DODO, UGWUNZU-organised harvest and bazaar together at different stations on different dates. This was to enable different stations to attend and raise money to develop each of the sections. This spirit of cooperation was sustained and questions on how to pull resources together were raised. The objective was laudable but the means of achieving it was a knee-bone affair.
The people of Awgu geographical circumscription were a deeply religious people; who before the advent of Christianity in Igboland had a common religious heritage of a belief in One, Unseen, Omnipotent God. This Almighty God was referred to as Ali Awgu (the Awgu earth goddess).Continue reading >
Rev. Fr. Lawrence Eze
P.O. Box 256, Awgu. Enugu State Nigeria.
MOBILE:07055073793, 08091459755, 08063275076