Nekede-Owerri, Nigeria: May 28, 2020. That was the day, the sound, finally, faded in the mortal life of our dearest Ndaa Chri, Fada, Papa, Very Rev Fr Christian Mary Onwuemenyi Ihedoro, CMF. That eventful time and glorious moment took birth with the Mass that started at exactly 11am local time, when all the hands of the clock struck, choiring in unison: O! The end of an era. O paradise, O! The day thou gavest Lord is ended! Lead kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on! And, of course, Abide with me, for fast falls the eventide! But it was neither tearful nor mournful, rather, joyful and glorious! Papa’s denouement was pure delight.
The Chief Shepherd, Metropolitan See of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev Dr Anthony Obinna led at the Eucharistic table after the faithful exceptionally paid homage to the deceased. The Archbishop, it is worth mentioning, like an old maestro in a highly sophisticated theatre orchestra, did not only direct the Liturgical celebration attended by two Bishops, but manifested his dominance of the entire piece, with his conductor’s refined music baton picking holes at weak parts while himself supplying and rendering the missing lines to his suiting.
However, adherent to the social distancing prescribed by the ‘new normal’, the Prelate was assisted by Very Rev Fr Simeon Nwobi, CMF, the Chief mourner—being the Provincial Superior, Claretian Missionaries, East Nigeria, and one of his Consultors, Very Rev Fr Kenneth Oguejiofor, CMF.
Surely, we gathered to celebrate a man of virtues: humble in service and simple in conduct; devoted to the Holy Eucharist and our Blessed Mother Mary—the Foundress of the Claretian Congregation to whose Immaculate Heart the Institute dedicates and consecrates her members. Thus, Fr Mary Ihedoro, a rare product from God given freely to humanity, was a true son of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What else? He was compassion in motion. So declared the touching homily of Most Rev Wilfred Anagbe, CMF, Bishop of Makurdi diocese, Benue State, North-Central, Nigeria.
At the end of the two-hour beautiful Eucharistic celebration that permitted only a handful of selected Priests, Religious and the laity in due attention to the prevailing Covid-19, the Provincial Superior, Very Rev Fr Nwobi gave an emotional summary of the occasion as he offered his vote of Appreciation.
On behalf of Very Rev Fr Daniel Onyeayana, CMF, Superior of the Delegation West Nigeria, the entire Claretian missionaries of Nigeria, Fr Simmy passionately thanked Fr Ihedoro: “Thank you, thank you and thank you,” and lifted Papa’s track: “Otito diri, Onyenweayi!”
He poured deserved encomiums on the Man who we call the Father Founder of the Nigerian Claretians. Papa, he said, was a miracle-man as he recounted an awesome story of the pacemaker.
Fr Ihedoro, after undergoing some tough heart procedures in the US, had that medical piece inserted into his system to control abnormal heart rhythms, using electrical pulses. Upon expert confirmation, it has not been working for more than five years. So, how did he survive, even a second, defiling all scientific certitude claimed by orthodox medicine? Papa had lived years with absolutely a nonfunctional life-saving remedial device. Jaw dropping! We must return to this in details very much later when a bigger ORATION (Book) would be written. But, serve it to ponder here: Miracle? Nothing is if that wasn’t.
The Superior, rightfully, thanked the congregants at the Mass and many more Bishops, Provincial Superiors of Congregations, Fr Ihedoro’s family members abroad, parishioners etc., who would have been physically present but resolved to join via Facebook live streaming and sent condolences.
Everyone was acknowledged: the hospitals, Doctors, nurses, community/family members, Lay Claretians, Very Rev Fr Agumanu, the only surviving classmate of Papa etc. He, though, reserved special gratitude for the Burial Committee ably chaired by Rev Fr Dr John Ezenwankwo, CMF. The enormous but professional grind they committed into the preparations and execution made the event flow happily and moved seamlessly just like ordinary plug-and-play file.
Thereafter, those permitted by the circumstances of the moment proceeded in solemn march to the Claretian cemetery after the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev Dr Moses Chikwe prayed the final commendations.
Nonetheless, during the entombment itself at the graveside, an interesting mild drama of deep spiritual significance ensured. A man, who, while alive, loved his Claretian children so dearly, shielded them from rainstorms and scotching heat, refused vehemently to be lowered in the first attempts as the seminary choir chanted in ceaseless sequence those tunes he had cherished. Accordingly, satisfied after nearly an hour of human interaction, his body was peacefully lowered unto the care of the excited mother earth. The little mending of the beautiful erection at the tomb was no mere normal. Papa Ihedoro was not leaving the planet earth in a hurry. Kabisa! And we loved it.
As testified in the following images below, the event was well face/nosemasked, mindful of the desolating coronavirus pandemic with its attendant strict regulations.
May the soul of Fada Christian Mary Onwuemenyi Ihedoro and the souls of all the faithful departed – Through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!
Adieu Papa! Jee nke oma! Requiescat in pace!
So, gradually and sweetly—THE SOUND FADES…
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Here below, the pictures speak clearer truth<<<<