IT WAS indeed a moment of panegyrics and eulogy as Lolo Elizabeth Ezenneka marked her centenary birthday amidt jubilation and conviviality.
The centenary celebration, which was doubled by the 20th anniversary of priestly ordination of the celebrant’s last son, Rev. Fr. Donatus Iyke Ezenneka, took place at Ezenneka’s compound in Ebenator, Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, and started with a Holy Mass held at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church Ebenator.
In a homily, Monsignor Emma Adibe enjoined Christians to keep faith in God with all steadfastness as, according to him, He alone is the giver of life. He described life and good health as divine gifts with which God favours humanity, even as he charged everyone to embrace Chirst.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Chief Andrew Anasonye congratulated the celebrants. He noted that it was not easy for one to serve in the vineyard of the Lord or for one to live up to 100 years, which he said was as a result of God’s favour coupled with the nutritious Igbo traditional foods she is eating; and hence urged ndi Igbo to be steadfast in God and to value pure traditional food, which he said was now going extinct.
Earlier in a goodwill message, His Holiness Pope Francis, who wrote from Rome congratulated Lolo Ezenneka who he described as a heroine, and prayed for more of God’s blessings, strength and good health upon her as she ticked a year older.
In an interview with newsmen, the last son of the centenarian, Rev. Fr. Donatus Ezenneka whose 20th year of pristehood was also celebrated that day, showered panegyrics on his mother, and went down memory lane to highlight some of the remarkable ways she has proved to be a benevolent woman of virtue and a peace lover.
He recounted various philanthropic gestures manifested by his mother, which included: mandating him to use the whole money he received as gifts the day he was made a priest to build a house for a homeless poor who she said slept on the street that ordination day; insisting that fetching water from a borehole sunk by his brother in the house must be free for all, despite their initial plan to commercialize it, among other benevolent acts.
Recounting how her mother lost her sight in the hand of a quark doctor, and having observed what the people in the village are passing through, Fr. Ezenneka who is also known for his philanthropy, pledged to set up three things in honour of his mother, (the centenarian) who he said taught him philanthropy.
These three things he pledged to embark on are: building a laboratory which will be providing medical services to the people at a minimum cost that everybody can afford; starting Mobile Clinic, which will be conveying medicare around the community and beyond, especially to the aged, the less privileged and other people who cannot afford commercial medicare, providing food and succor to the poor, the aged and the less privileged around the community and beyond.
The event was heralded by a football match played among the youths of Ebenator community, divided into zones, and which was won by Uhuala people.
Among numerous others, guests who graced the occasion included: the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, Most Reverend Valerian M. Okeke, represented by Monsignor Emma Adibe; Bishop Hilary Odili Okeke of Nnewi Catholic Diocese, represented by the bishop’s secretary, Rev. Fr. Celestine Okonkwo; the traditional ruler of Ebenator Ozuluogu Ancient Kingdom, H.R.H Igwe Chinaewubeze Ezejiburu; the President General of the town, Chief Anthony Okechukwu; the traditional ruler of Ezinifite community, H.R.M Igwe Samuel Obika, among others.