Owerri-Nigeria, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The Church liturgies celebrating the funeral rites of the Man rightly called the Father Founder of the Claretian Missionaries of Nigeria, Very Rev Fr Christian Mary Onwuemenyi Ihedoro, CMF, started with the Vespers and the Vigil Mass at 4pm, local time, at the Claretian Provincialate Church Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
Amidst the prevailing global Covid-19 scare and caution, yet, gathering with unalloyed faith and trust in the Risen Lord and the indubitable constant fatherly presence of Papa in our midst, the celebrations were led by the first set (1973-1981) of the Nigerian Claretians Very Rev Frs Marcel Onyeocha (Chief Celebrant), Innocent Edoziem (Gospel) and Charles Amadi (Homilist), with the participating congregation including Claretian Priests, Rev Sisters, Lay Claretians, parishioners and Fr Ihedoro’s family members.
Suffice it to say that, as far as the life and times of Papa Christian Mary Ihedoro are concerned, we can never say nor write enough.
However, at the moment, our filial sentiments of the entire celebration were articulated and expressed most profoundly by the written speech of Very Rev Fr Wenceslaus Madu, CMF here 👇🏿 below published, as we prepare for the Funeral Mass on Thursday, May 28, 2020.
VERY REV FATHER CHRISTIAN MARY IHEDORO, CMF
A FATHER SUPERIOR PAR EXCELLENCE
Shortly we shall be celebrating the final rites to bid the Very Rev Father Christian Mary Ihedoro, CMF farewell on his journey to eternity. We are not in a hurry to forget that he was a man that saw all that happened to him, his experiences or every event in his life as coming from God’s Providential plan for him. His life was full of testimonies of God’s direct interventions beginning from the time he was a School teacher in Avuvu, when he interpreted the “open space” in the Claretian vocation leaflet from USA as belonging to him, that led to his decision to join the Claretian Missionaries, leaving the then lucrative career as a teacher.
His visit on home leave to Nigeria after the Nigerian Civil war and the eventual loss of his travel documents and all the frustration that came with it, were all seen as God’s will at work in his life. Fr Ihedoro saw everything he has as coming from God and given to him, as channel of grace, for the service of God and humanity. He used all material and spiritual endowments available to him to build the Claretian Congregation in Nigeria: – his family resources, his former peers that he organized in the Associate and Lay Claretian Movements. He was a man full of courageous compassion and heroic humility.
In humility and compassion, he saw every authority he had as Superior/Director and Provincial Superior as given to him by God to be exercised in the spirit of service. His availability to service in compassion and humility was second to none. In line with Canon 618, amplified in the Claretian Constitutions No. 104, Very Rev Father Christian Mary Ihedoro was a truly spiritual man, deeply committed to the congregation, deeply docile to the will of God and endowed with suitable discretion and talent; governed and directed those under his supervision as children of God. Fr Ihedoro was a prototype Superior par excellence, he had respect for every human person, big or small. He knew how to carry everyone along. He gave his subjects a sense of belonging and made every shade of opinion to count in arriving at consensus and decisions. He championed voluntary obedience in the community and at the same time highly revered and esteemed by all and particularly his peers and contemporaries. Fr Ihedoro was very good with attentive listening and deeply appreciated every effort towards collaboration for the good of the community and the Church at large. His favorite axiom, “Only the best is good enough for the Claretians” and also “There is always room for improvement” in every human endeavours.
In line with canon 619, Fr Ihedoro devoted himself with great diligence to his office and responsibilities. He strove earnestly to form and build a Claretian community built on Christ and devoid of rancour and sectionalism promoting diversity. We still remember his spiritual conferences and retreats. Fr Christian Mary Ihedoro, CMF was a true servant of God and a man full of care, compassion and humility. In the coming days, I will start the exploratory investigation on behalf of the Province towards his beatification and eventual canonization as a true servant of God, full of care, courageous compassion and heroic humility. I solicit the support of everyone in this project of witnessing to our faith.
O Lord, Grant that Very Rev Father Christian Mary Ihedoro who followed most closely in the footsteps of our Holy Founder St Anthony Mary Claret by the examples of his special sanctity in the missionary life in the service of the Gospel, deign to make the Church fruitful by his glorification and making him a model for us to imitate, here on earth and numbered among your saints in heaven.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Very Rev FR Wenceslaus Madu, CMF
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