The history of Catholic Church Ihe will not be complete without mentioning how the propagation of faith reached South Eastern Nigeria.
The director of the propagation of faith of the Holy Ghost Congregation in Parishes decided to plant Catholic Mission in South Eastern Nigeria otherwise known as the Lower Niger. In August 1885 Rev. Fr. Joseph Emile Luiz CSSp was appointed to lead a team of Holy Ghost Missionaries to plant Catholic Mission in the lower Niger. The team set sail from Paris via England down to Sierra lone and later landed at Onitsha the Holy Trinity grounding perpetuity free of all tributes and dues. The Missionaries on their part in gratitude for this concession undertook to provide formal education for the children of the local community. These children were taught Catholic doctrine and secular subjects like English writing, reading and Arithmetic. This was the method the missionaries used throughout their evangelization periods. That is why the school/church went hand in hand and often times share the same building.
After setting in Onitsha they started moving into the hinterland mostly on invitation by the local chiefs. Chief Onyeama of Eke invited the missionaries to settle at Eke. In 1918 Rev. Fr. Joachim Correia CSSP and Rev. Fr. Davey CSSP were sent to Eke. They settled at Eke and started to evangelize the towns around Eke. The Chiefs of Awgu, Mmaku, Mgbowo and Ihe applied to the missionaries at Eke to come and open up mission stations In their towns. Eke - Enugu - Awgu axis was formed and opened. Rev. Fr. Marcel Gradin CSSp was detailed to evangelize the area.
In 1920 late Chief Agunevo Otusa invited the missionaries at Eke to come to Ihe and open a mission station. On 5th April, 1920. Mr. John Okere of Obosi was sent to Ihe to open the station. He was the first station teacher/catechist for Ihe. Chief Agunevo Otusa gave the Catholic Mission Mkpu-utu for the school and church. In 1926 Late Chief Agunevo Otusa was removed from chieftaincy stool and the school was closed for security reasons. In 1927 late Chief Ekonta Nwankwo was given warrant to rule Ihe town. In 1928 late Chief Ekonta re-applied for the re-opening of Ihe station. Mr. Manias Nwanagbaoso was sent to Ihe as a station teacher/catechist. Late chief Ekonta harboured the school and the church in his Nkolo (house) and later transferred to Udala Eko Ogu-nuo in Umusike Village. In 1930 the school/church was moved again to Aniogwo along Awgu Enugu Old road. Then, Mr. Bernard Dilike was the station teacher/catechist. In 1935 the Roman catholic Mission Ihe was transferred to Mkpu-utu again as there was no room for expansion in the present site.
Mr. Richard Enekwe was the station teacher/catechist for Ihe. All these years the station was known and called Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) Ihe, it was in 1940 that the name was changed to St. Mary's Catholic Mission Ihe. The Station St. Mary's Ihe was carved out from Eke to Mmaku 1939, from Mmaku to Udi 1945, from Udi to Agbani 1950, from Agbani to Awgu in 1951, from Awgu to Owelli in 1954 and in 1991 the station became a one town parish, Ihe station helped to build the above mentioned mother parishes before becoming a parish of her own in 1991. Thanks be to God. In 1991 St. Mary's Station became a one town parish with Rev. Fr. Charles EC. Ukagha as the first Parish priest, during Ukagha's tenure there was religious crisis which divided the Christians; Rev. Fr. Ukagha unfortunately left Ihe Parish unceremoniniously as a result of one said crisis. Rev. Fr. A. Okeke was appointed sole administrator for the parish after him. In 1994 Rev. Fr. Joseph Offor was posted to Ihe Parish. He left the parish after a brief stay for further studies overseas. Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Asogwa of Blessed memory took over the pasturing of the parish from Rev. Fr. Offor and was later sent to Agbani parish. But in 1995 Rev. Fr. Theophilus Morgan Nnaji replaced him as the parish priest and in 1995 Rev. Fr. Morgan Nnaji and Ihe community nurtured the idea of building a parish church for Ihe town to accommodate the ever increasing population of Ihe Church the young social, resourceful and charismatic priest, "Nwa Balu Uno Di Mma a goal getter" united the whole town that was religiously in pieces into one common front for the building in 1998, under two years. He laid the foundation in 1997, and roofed the building in 1998, under two years. He was transferred to St. George's parish, Ndeabor Aninri Local Governemnt Area. He handed the Darish over to a highly learned and experienced priest, late Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Anike.
Late Dr. Fr. E. Anike religiously handed over to Rev. Fr. P. Offu who in turn handed over our in-fatigable priest Rev. Fr. F.N. Okolie who worked for four years and was sent to Rome for further studies by Bishop Ifeanyichukwuu Okoye. On 28th July 2009, Rev. Fr. EN. Okolie after working for four years without rest handed over to Rev. Fr. Patrick Ndubisi, Bishop's Personal Secretary. In turn Fr. Patrick Ndubisi handed over to a Very Rev. Fr. Matthew Eze, whose silver jubilee, as a priest was celebrated on 14th November, 2010. God take Glory!!! Ihe parish during, Ninety two years under the Roman Catholic Mission was able to produce seven Rev. Frs. And seven Rev. Sisters. By the grace of God in a near future she will produce more priest and Sisters. To God be the Glory!!
Compiled by: CHIEF LE. OKEKE
For President Laity Council Ihe Parish
CHIEF B.O. OKEKE (Omene Ihu Nnaya)
Current Secretary Parish Finance Council
St. Anthony's Parish Ituku was carved out from St. John's Parish Agbogugu in November 4th 2006 by Most Rev. John I. Okoye, the pioneer bishop of Awgu Diocese.
The pioneer parish priest was Rev. Fr. Jovita I. Ibeh who was transferred on the 31st January 2013 and was replaced by Rev. Fr. Nnaemeka Nwadu. The parish has no out station but has nine zones corresponding to the nine villages.
The Zones are:
St. Paul Amokolo
St. Anthony Umukulu
St. Augustine Ugwunagbo
St. Mary Amata
Sacred Heart Okwenachalla
St. Jude Ofeiyi
St. Theresa Umuwota
Holy Family Umuowo
St. Peter Umuonyiba
The names of parish Council members are:
Rev. Fr. Nnaemeka Nwadu (Chairman)
Mr. Edwin Okonkwo (Vice Chairman)
Mr. Okwudili Okafor (Secretary)
Chief John N. Okeke
Hon. Rose Emenike
Mr. Alexander Ozoude
Mr. Romanus Chukwu
Beatrice Okoye I.
Ambrose Okonkwo C.
The Roman Catholic Church in Ogugu town is an offshoot of this mother church from greater Owelli Parish. The founder of this church and school that were in separable in Ogugu was Chief Nwogbodo Aniude and his supporters in 1936. His supporters included: Chief Chukwu Okolie, Councilor Igbokwe Madu, Councilor Ude Cjoke, Councilor Chukwu Ofido, Councilor Chuwku Nwonye, Councilor Chukwu Onuoha, Councilor Ngene Oguolie, Councilor Chuwkuntaa Ani and Councilor Ani Chukwude.
Since the Church and the school were interwoven, the heads of various Catholic Schools then were automatically the catechists or Directors of Spiritual activities in their different areas. As a result f this situation, St. Mary's Catholic Church Ogugu is not left out this system of imparting knowledge as well as directing the people's spiritual life in one and the same breath.
The underlisted persons featured since the church and the school were founded in Ogugu town
Mr. Lawrence Egbujo - Headmaster cum Catechist from Emekuku in Owerri
Mr. Aaron Okafor - Headmaster cum Catechist from Aguleri
Mr. Peter Amu - Headmaster cum Catechist from Udi
Late Mr. Julius Uche - Headmaster cum Catechist from Isikwe Achi
Late Mr. Ambrose Okonkwo - Catechist from Ogugu
Late Mr. Cyprain Onuoha - Catechist from Ogugu
Mr. Bartholomew Okonkwo - Catechist from Ogugu
Mr. Donatus Egbo - Catechist from Ogugu
Mr. Benignus Onovo - Catechist from Ogugu till date
It seems that the spell that held Ogugu people was broken on the above caption when on 6th November 2004 one our illustrious daughters Rev. Sr. Jacinta Eziamaka Emenike took her first vow in the community of Sisters f Jesus the Good Shepherd at Abakaliki. In another breath one of our illustrious sons Rev. Fr. Ikenna M. Onovo in August 2006 clinched the Olympian Priestly office with his colleagues as they were ordained priests of God in the order of Melchizedek by His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. J. I. Okoye, Bishop of Awgu Diocese.
In this same 2006, St. Mary's Station was elevated to the prestige of a parish with Very Rev. Fr. Robert C. Ugwuogo as the first Parish Priest. Presently the second Parish Priest of St. Mary's Parish s Very Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Anugwo with the following parish council members.
Sir F. C. Uchenwa (JP)
Ezinna Okafor Silas
Mr. Benignus onovo (Catechist)
Mr. Donatus Egbo (Asst. Catechist)
Mr. Peter Okeke
Lady Ezinne E. N. Uchenwa (JP)
Mr. Ude Raphael
Mrs. Okafor Janet
Mrs. Okonkwo Patricia
Mrs. Rita Onovo
Mr. Ernest K, Chukwunweike
Miss Egbo Adaku
Miss Mirabel Aniche
Master Johnpaul Okolie
Evangelization reached Owelli Community in 1918 through the Irish Catholic Missionaries. The Church started simultaneously with the school the same year, and we were under Eke Parish. In course of time, we came under Mmaku Parish. By 1956, we were under Awgu Parish, and then in 1959, Owelli Parish was carved out by Archbishop Heerey, the Archbishop of Onitsha. Rev. Fr. Tim Buckley was the first Parish Priest under his Lordship, Late Bishop Anyiogu.
St. John's Parish, Owelli was composed of eleven stations namely:
St. John's Catholic Church, Owelli 1918 St. Dominic Catholic Church, Ogbaku 1920 St. Mary's Catholic Church, Ihe 1920 St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Ituku 1926 St. John's Catholic Church, Agbogugu 1926 Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Agbudu 1930 St. Mary's Catholic Church, Ogugu 1930 St. Gregory's Catholic Church, Amoli 1931 St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Ugbonabo 1933 St. Bridget's Catholic Church, Ngeneugbo 1935 St. John's Catholic Church, Eziama Igbaku 1935
The stations has at present turned to big Parish as follows:
St. Mary's Parish, Ihe 1990 St. John's Parish, Agbogugu 1994 St. Gregory's Parish, Amoli 1999 St. Dominic's Parish, Ogbaku 2006 St. Anthony's Parish, Ituku 2006 St. Mary's Parish, Ogugu 2006 St. Anthony's Parish, Ugbonabo 2007 Holy Trinity Parish, Agbudu 2007
The growth of Owelli Parish into parishes, by the special grace of God has given rise to the Great Parish becoming Owelli Region in the Catholic Diocese of Awgu today. It is a thing of joy to mention here that the pioneer Catholic Bishop of Awgu Dioces, Most Rev. John Ifeanyoichukwu Okoye is from Owelli Parish. St. John's Parish, Owelli had numerous priests, Reverend Sisters and brothers and seminarians. The Parish land measures 22.15 acres. Owelli Community donated expanse of land top the Catholic Mission with the intention that it will contain the Parish Church, Parish House, Nursery, Primary and Secondary school, Hospital and Rev. Sisters Residence.
The old parish house was built in 1960, under supervision of Rev. Fr. Tim Buckley. The present parish house started in 1980 under Rev. FR. Ezeugwu. The pro-cathedral foundation started in the 1985 under the same Rev. Fr. Ezeugwu. Architect Dan Udeh produced the building g plan. The Site Engineer was R.J.O. Igwensi. The Iron work was done by Citadel Building Company. Long span Roofing sheets went up the building in 1991 by Robertson Building Company.
The parish house funding was by launching, levies and donations from the stations that make up the parish, while the Church building was funded by Owelli station and well wishers through launchings, donations, levies, special help from CWO home and abroad, and help from Rome through the appeal by Rev. FR. J. I. Okoye (now the Bishop Okoye if Awgu). In 1994, Rev. Fr. A.A. Chukwu started the Nursery, Primary and Secondary school project. List of Parish Priests of Owelli parish since inception:
Rev. Fr. Tim Buckley 1959 – 1964
Rev. Fr. MC Carthy 1964 - 1965
Rev. Fr. F.O. Dwyer 1965 - 1966
Rev. Fr. B. Darcy 1966 - 1968
Rev. Fr. MC Glade Jan 1969 – 1974
Rev. Fr. P. Dinan Jan 1973 - 1976
Rev. Fr. Isaac Ezeh (CSSP) Jan 1973 – 1976
Rev. Fr. D. M. Odiegwu (CSSP) Jan 1973 - 1979
Rev. FR. Peter Osuchukwu and
Rev. Christopher Anyanwuazuka Jan 1981
Rev. FR. C.N. Orji Jan 1981 - 1985
Rev. Fr. A. I. Ezeugwu 1985 - 1989
Rev. Fr. T. Anayanwu April –September 1989
Rev. Fr. A. Egbo 25th September, 1989 – 1991
Rev. Fr. M. C. Onyehalu May 1991 – 1993
Rev. Fr. A. A. Chukwu 1993 – 1997
Rev. Fr. P. E. Agu August 1997
Rev. Fr. Ignatius Okpara
Rev. FR. Martin Orjianioke
Rev. Fr. Peter Ogbonna
Rev. Fr. Johnbosco Ibekwe November, 2009
Rev. Fr. Afam Ozonoh December, 2009 – Till Date.
Finally, the present St. John's Parish is made up of four stations:
St. Mary's Station, Enugu Owelli
Holy Family Station, Amaebor Owelli
Holy Trinity Station, Umuhu Owelli
St. Patrick's Station, Awono Owelli
For enhancement of evangelization to the grassroots, the stations was further divided into Zones, we have ten zones that makes up the parish
St. Peter's Zone Enugu Owelli
St. Paul's Zone Enugu Owelli
St. Michael's Zone Amabor Owelli
St. Jude's Zone Amabor Owelli
St Joseph's Zone Amabor Owelli
St. Gabriel's Zone Umuhu Owelli
St. Raphael's Zone Umuhu Owelli
St. Anthony's Zone Umuhu Owelli
St. Patrick's Zone Awono Owelli
Immaculate Heart Zone
St. John's Parish has 3 Religious Organization:
We have also Pius / Religious societies like:
Legion of Mary
Block Rosary Crusade
Altar Boys And Girls
Laity Council – the Umbren
The present St. John's Parish has Five (5) Priests:
Most Rev. Dr. John I. Okoye (Bishop of Awgu Diocese)
Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Aniebo
Rev. Fr. Hillary Okeke
Rev. Fr. Anthony Anioke
Rev. Fr. Obinna Okoye
Numerous Rev. Sisters and Seminarians spread throughout the world. We Have 2 main councils in the church – the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council. The Parish Pastoral Council is the highest council in the church, at Owelli Parish. They work in collaboration with the Parish Priest to see that things are moving well. The Finance Council takes charge of all the "money" (Income & Expenditure) in the parish. These are the members of Parish Pastoral Council (2009 – Date):
Rev. Fr. Afam Ozonoh - Chairman
Chief Daniel Nwabueze - Vice Chairman
Innocent Okeke - Secretary
Innocent Omurum - Treasurer / C.M.O Chairman
Hyacinth Okoye - Financial Secretary
Helen Okechukwu - Assistant Secretary
These are the Finance Members (2009 – Date)
Rev. Fr. Afam Ozonoh - Chairman
Sir Innocent Onuorah
Mrs. Ngozi Anita
Mrs. Philomena Anioke
This parish was carved out of St. John's Parish Owelli court in Noveber 27the 2007, by Most Rev. John I Okoye with Rev. Fr. Ikenna Ejinaka and the pioneer Parish Priest. It has two formally to stations, namely, St. Anthony's station which started in 1933 and St. Bridget's station which started in1936. The parish centre is at St. Anthony station Ugbounabor and out station is St. Bridget Ngene Ugbor. These two station was created by the first Irish Priest that worked at St. John Parish Owelli, Rev. Fr. Brushamaham, with tow catchiest teachers namely Mr Jacob Anigbo of Eke at St. Anthony station and Mr. Edward Ogbonna of Oghe at St. Bridget station Ngene Ugbo Currently.
St. Anthony's parish has ten active zones namely;
St. Jude's Awaebe
St. Michael's Isiakpu
St. Paul's Umuagulu
St. Mary's Ugwuede
St. John's Umuokpa
St. Peter's Upkammanu
St. Theresa's Oyibo
St. Francis Ugbokpala
THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. Mr. Okafor Francis (vice Chairman)
2. Hon. Patrick Anugwo. (Secretary)
3. Sir. Emeome treasurer
4. Ozor. Alexander Ogbuka
5. Ozor. Ferdinand Chukwu
6. Mr. Donatus Okeke
7. Mr. Emeome James
8. Mrs. Orji Josphine
9. Mr. Chukwuaji Francis
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