Wonder, it is popularly said, will never end.
So was it a wonder to dignitaries and others who gathered to pay homage at the funeral mass of Senator Fidelis Okoro at his residential house in Iheagu Nru Nsukka, Enugu State on Friday, September 4.
It was a surprise as a catechist officiated the mass attended by high profile politicians, while the Parish Priest of Iheagu Nru, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Isife shunned sermon and insisted that the Senator’s life was enough gospel for everyone.
Dignitaries at the burial ceremony included Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker Enugu House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi; Simon Atigwe, a member House of Representatives; Dr. Pat Asadu, a member House of Representatives, among others.
It is anathema for a catechist to officiate a mass in the order of Roman Catholic Church doctrine when a Rev. Father is present.
It all started when the Parish Priest, who was present at the ceremony, permitted the catechist to officiate the burial mass.
The catechist sweated to follow the order of the mass which is not a function of his office amidst the dignitaries at the function.
At the end of the mass, the priest who was watching how the catechist struggled later picked up microphone.
Attention riveted on him as the congregation expected to hear the homily only for him to conclude the mass by telling the congregation that “The state of the late Senator is enough homily for everyone.”
The Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Mr. Chukwuka Utazi who patiently waited for the unfolding drama to end could not hold his peace.
Embittered by what the parish priest did, Utazi took the position of a man of God and told the congregation that it was not in the powers of the living to judge the dead.
He drew an analogy from the Biblical story of the two thieves who were crucified on the cross with Jesus Christ, insinuating that despite human judgment against the late Senator Okoro, God might still give him a last and valid chance.
Similarly, Senator Jim Nwobodo, a former Governor of old Anambra State, urged the entire congregation to pray for a peaceful repose of the deceased instead of reviling him for his misdeeds on earth.
Nwobodo said it is only Jesus Christ who can judge the late Senator and not human beings.
He described the deceased as the best commissioner who worked assiduously with him as a governor.