It was a beautiful sunny day on Friday 6th September 2019, when members of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese trooped to the newly renovated Odenigbo pavilion to celebrate the 25 years of creation of the Archdiocese.
The ceremony which was ably led by the Owerri Catholic Archbishop, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, had many participants from the neighbouring dioceses which make up the Owerri Province. These include Okigwe diocese, Orlu diocese, Aba diocese, Umuahia diocese and Ahiara diocese.
Traditional dancers from the different dioceses in attendance were on hand to make the event a memorable one. Some of the popular dancing groups that preformed at the venue were: the renowned Abigbo dance group from Mbaise, St Maria Goretti youth dance Ikenegbu Owerri, St. Mathews Church dance group and many others.
This diocese which is being celebrated dates back to the Vicariate Apostolic of Owerri, which was created on February 12, 1948 when the joint Vicariate Apostolic of Onitsha-Owerri was split. On April 18, 1950 it was elevated to a diocese. While On March 26, 1994 it became an archdiocese, with Most Rev. AJV Obinna as its first Archbishop till date.
The Archdiocese covers many local government areas of Imo State, with a population of about 600,000 Catholics and land area of 2996.27 sq km. It has more than 90 parishes administered by about 260 diocesan priests, some religious priests and about 300 catechists.
Four male religious congregations are working in the diocese. These include: the Spiritans, Cleretians, Don-Guanellans, Marist brothers of the School, and the brothers of St Stephen. There are also five female religious congregations: the handmaid of the holy child Jesus; the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy; the Holy Family sisters of the Needy, a home-based group with headquarters at Nekede Owerri, and the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood.
The Archdiocese also houses a cell of the Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph of the Divine Providence. it was Bishop Whelan that initiated the establishment of the monastery, but bishop Unegbu finally made it to become a reality in 1974.
The Archdiocese has 2 junior seminaries for training of priests: they are St Peter Claver Seminary Okpala formally St Paul’s Major Seminary during the missionary days established in 1942, converted to junior seminary in 1951. Then Assumpta Minor Seminary established in 1990 by bishop Unegbu. The Archdiocese has also the Assumpta Spiritual year centre, a preparatory institute located at Ogbaku.
Also the Archdiocese houses two senior seminaries: Seat of Wisdom Seminary Ulakwo for diocesan priests and the Claretian Institute of Philosophy for the training of religious clergy. The Spiritans also has a postulate house at Akabo IKeduru.
At the end of the ceremony ambrosymediainfo.com spoke to some of the people who were in attendance and they generally agreed that the Archdiocese had really achieved a lot within the 25 years of its existence.