- Your Excellency, Most Rev. Dr. C.V.C Onaga, the Bishop of Enugu Diocese
- Your Excellencies, Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the Governor of Enugu State and his Wife
- Your Excellency, The Past Governor of Enugu State
- Most Rev. Bishops; Rev. Monsignors; Rev. Fathers, Members of Institutes of Consecrated Life;
- Your Royal Highnesses; Members of the Political Class; The Legal Luminaries,
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with gratitude to the almighty God that we are gathered here
today who made this day what it is and to whom it pleased to project
the Catholic Institute for Development Justice and Peace CIDJAP and her
founder Msgr. Obiora Ike to the limelight like the diamonds shining in
the sky. This celebration today is a manifestation of our gratitude to
God and at the same time our prayers to our Lord and savior Jesus
Christ who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’, to continue to lead the
ways of CIDJAP and her founder to greater heights and brightness for
the good of the Church and the entire society, Amen.
What is CIDJAP?
Catholic Institute for Development, Justice, Peace and Caritas (CIDJAP) is a Church based organization and social ministry arm of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. Founded in the year 1986 in the vision of a young Rev. Fr. Obiora Ike, now a Monsignor and Professor, CIDJAP has lived through these 30 years with an edge over other Church based NGOs in Enugu and Nigeria. Her birth could be seen taking shape from a collection of some church documents and commissions which are geared toward care for souls and other social concerns. As can be seen, Rerum Novarum, the ground breaking encyclical letter of the Pope, launched the church into the cause of social reform. It was a rediscovery of the social vocation of the Christian, and a radical response of the church to the socio-political situation of the time. The world just had to become better! The passion for the betterment of the world turned into a refrain in the Church and the Popes supported this development. In 1931, Pope Pius XI released the Quadragesimo Anno, in commemoration of the forty year of Rerum Novarum. In 1961, Pope John XXIII published Mater et Magistra. In it he wrote "though the Church‘s first care must be for souls, how she can sanctify them and make them share the gifts of heaven, she concerns herself too with the exigencies of people’s daily life, with their livelihood and education, and their general welfare and prosperity" (no 3). With this therefore a caveat has been created for social work as a legitimate concern of Christians to make the world a better place. It was in 1965 that the Fathers of the Vatican Council II released the document: Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) in which the church agreed unequivocally that temporal issue besieging mankind like poverty is really of special interest for the Church. "Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in the heart of Christians. For theirs is a community composed of men who, united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, press onwards towards the kingdom of the Father and are bearers of the message of salvation intended for all men. That is why Christians cherish a feeling of solidarity with the human race and its history". On January 6" 1967, Pope Paul VI inaugurated the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace “lustitia et Pax” with a clear mandate to set the pace of witness to Gospel values in the modern world of today. On December 10, 1979, Pope John Paul II issued a Motu Proprio “lustitiam et Pacem” (Peace in the World) which maintained that "promotion of justice and peace and the penetration of all spheres of human society with the light and leaven of the gospel have never ceased to be the true object of the Church‘s efforts in fulfillment of our Lord's command”. It is in this light that CIDJAP came to be born under the episcopacy of Late Bishop Michael Ugwuja Eneja. CIDJAP is classified as the best example of providers of grassroots emancipation and holistic human development. Registered in the corporate affairs commission with a registration number 7461, her motto reads: If you want Peace, work for Justice. Her mission is to empower people, promote integral development, challenge structures of injustice, create hope and work for peace. Her vision is Promotion of pastoral and social teachings of the Church, giving succour to the downtrodden, encouraging African self determination, African self reliance, and inculcating in the people the spirit of hard work and dignity of labour.
This address will not be complete if we fail to express our gratitude to the following: The emeritus bishops of Enugu Diocese, the first among them is the Late Bishop Godfrey Okoye Cssp who remains a model for Msgr Obiora Ike and for CIDJAP; Bishop Okoye was also a source of good luck for the then young seminarian serving as an auxiliary teacher at the junior seminary Nsude under the then Rector, Fr. Chinawa of the blessed memory. Bishop Okoye came for an inspection tour at the seminary and met Obiora Ike in the class room teaching. Here was the conversation between them. "Boy, why are you still here"? Obiora humbly replied "The Rector wishes me to do another one year of teaching because he said I am too young to go to the senior seminary" Bishop Okoye replied "Too young and brilliant!, Jesus wants young people, proceed immediately to the Bigard and tell Fr. John Ogbonna that I sent you"
The good works of Bishop Godfrey Mary Paul Okoye who attracted the Caritas International to the war-torn east coast of Nigeria, to offer relief materials to displaced families, also fired in the young Obiora Ike the zeal to do something about the plight of the unfortunate and impoverished members of the society. This was the foundation on which CIDJAP was built.
Late Bishop Michael Ugwuja Eneja was the one who laid the
foundation of CIDJAP by sending the then Fr. Obiora Ike to study abroad
as a seminarian. He also approved the establishment of CIDJAP and was
the bishop who blessed the foundation stone of CIDJAP. The social and
pastoral thoughts and actions of Bishop Godfrey Mary Paul Okoye and the
spirituality and thoughts of Bishop Michael Ugwuja Eneja, had very
great influence on the young Obiora Ike since his elementary school
years between 1970 to 1975, when he was Mass server with Fr. Francis
Nwokedi Ezumezu at the Sacred Heart Parish, Uwani Enugu, then under the
supervision of Bigard memorial Seminary priests, namely, Fr. Ochiagha
(now Bishop Ochiagha), Fr. Michael Okoro (now Bishop Okoro), Fr. Osmund
Anigbo (late), Fr. Albert Obiefuna (Late Bishop Obiefuna) and Fr.
Michael Eneja (late Bishop Eneja), who was then the spiritual director.
Your Lordship, we thank you for the support you gave to us. We know that you are in heaven with God, based on this believe, we are sure that you will assist us with your power of intercession so that the seed you planted will grow stronger as the cynosure of the Church in Enugu Diocese and of the entire society. Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji, the immediate Bishop emeritus of Enugu Diocese, CIDJAP and Msgr. Obiora Ike is indebted to you for the support you gave to this institution during your time as the bishop of Enugu. We assure you of our prayers and wish you many more healthy years.
Our Bishop, Most. Rev. Dr. C.V.C Onaga, the bishop of Enugu Diocese. It was Thornton Wilder who said that “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”We cannot express our gratitude to you enough. My Lord, "If the world had more people like you it would be a better place. You do make a difference." Thank you for being a father to us and to your Son Msgr. Obiora Ike.
We cannot do justice to this celebration if we do not remember the family that nurtured the celebrant.
The papa of Obiora F. Ike late Richard Maduabuchi Ike and his lovely wife and mother of his nine children, late Lucy Mgbafor Ike (nee Nzekwe). Rev. Msgr.Obiora Ike is a good example of a child whose father and mother passed down good qualities and attributes of excellent spirit and godly heritage. We thank you for the gift of Obiora Ike, we shall continue to pray for your eternal repose in the Lord.
Growing up in Gusau, the little Obiora was tendered by Mallam Mohamed, a northerner, who also doubled as the family domestic assistant and residential security guard. At his early childhood, Mohammed taught the little Obiora Hausa and Arabic languages, as well as the Koran. Mallam Mohamed we say thank you where ever you are now. His elementary two teachers in 1962 at a primary school in Gombe, Mr. Innocent Onwuamaeze, a native of Amankwo Oghe, Ezeagu, Enugu, State and others; as well as his teachers during his primary school days at the Saint Patrick Catholic School, Ogbete, Enugu, between 1966 to 1967, Miss Regina Akilo, now Mrs. Udeaba and others, we say thank you for the good education you impacted on the young Obiora Ike. We say many more thanks to his teachers in the seminary, especially in the junior seminary. The rectors, Father Emmanuel Otteh, (now late Bishop Otteh); Msgr. Stephen Ezeanya (now late Bishop Ezeanya) and Fr. Paul Chinawa (now late) etc, we say thank you for nurturing the vocation of the then young Obiora Ike.
We must mention the Bishop who ordained him priest on 4 July 1981, Most Rev. Dr. Bruno Wechner in a ceremony at Saint Karl Church, Hohenems. My Lord, may God bless you. Cardinal Joseph Hoffner, emeritus archbishop of Cologne, under whom Msgr. Obiora Ike served as Chaplain and pastoral director of the Deutschordens, Wohnstift, Cologne Germany, where he made eternal friends such as Lothar Roos, Martin Lohmann, Alfons Herwig, Deacon Winfred Mueller, Charles Gessmann, Frederick Herweg; and Mr. Adolf Distelkamp, etc and with whom he co-founded the Nigerian German Contact; we say many thanks for your un-quantifiable support and expressions of friendship.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present
and not giving it. Based on this we want to appreciate the past and
present members of staff of CIDJAP who have helped to transform this
social industry into an unforgettable institution in the Catholic
Church. We mention the following: Late Mr. J.H.U Nnaka and Victor
Onyema; others are Amaka Okeke, Amaka Udoye, Nnenna Ngene, Maureen
Ogidi and Sr. Josephine Threlfall, etc. We cannot forget the past
deputy directors in the persons of Frs. Leo Ilechukwu, Herbert Eneh,
Joe Impey, Christian Nwatu, Emma Ugwu, Ikechukwu Odigbo and Tony Ezekwu
To the present members of staff we say thank you for being there. In the words of President John F. Kennethy, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." And still in the words of this great man: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Hence, this is an era of not asking what CIDJAP can do for you, ask what you can do for CIDJAP.
Distinguished quests of honour, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. We want to say to you that we are grateful for your presence with us today. There is the saying that “gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Based on these words we hope that any shortcomings of ours today will be turned into ‘enough and more’ for you. We are therefore confident to invite you to relax, feel at ease, feel at home and enjoy the intellectual, social, cultural and spiritual banquets that we have provided for you today.
And may the almighty God bless you and guide you through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Dr. Anieke Chinedum Odinkemelu