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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Reports from the Burial of the Late Bishop Anthony Ekezia Ilonu (Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, Nigeria) on 11th June 2012.

The Remains of the Late Bishop Anthony Ilonu
The remains of the Late Bishop Anthony Ekezia Ilonu, 77, the Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, Nigeria, who passed into glory on Friday June 15 2012 (the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) was today laid to rest at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Okigwe. The event was attended by a multitude of people from all walks of life ranging from top ecclesiastical and government dignitaries to artisans as Okigwe town and beyond stood still in honour of their ecclesiastical hero. All roads led to the cathedral podium which hosted a Cardinal, over 30 bishops, over 400 priests, innumerable female and male religious and thousands of the laity who gathered to accord the deceased bishop their last respect. Even Mother Nature accorded the Saint and Hero a befitting respect by providing a conducive atmosphere for the burial despite the raining season.

In his brief but concentrated homily which was delivered in English and later explained in Igbo, the Chief Celebrant, Francis Cardinal Arinze welcomed all and sundry to the Eucharistic celebration held in honour of the Late Bishop Anthony Ilonu. He invited all present to join in praying for the happy repose his soul since it is part of our Christian obligations to bury and to pray for the dead.

The Burial Brochure of Late Bishop
He reminded the faithful of the indispensability of death and called on all to prepare for death since no one can escape death even a bishop. Therefore, he called on all and sundry to be good Christians who respond actively to Christ’s invitation to follow him. He also called on them to be faithful to Christ’s injunction to receive him in the Holy Eucharist since it energizes us to be good Christians. He said it is not enough to be a Christian but it is also necessary to persevere in our practice of virtues because Christ said it is not all those who call “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven but those who do the will of God. On the last day we shall be judged based on our ability to do the will of God.

The Cardinal reminded all Christians that Jesus also gave us a hint of how we shall be judged on the last day. Jesus said we shall be judged based on how we have helped our neighbour, because whatever we do to the least of the brethren has been done to Christ. He also called on all Christ’s faithful to prepare themselves for heaven like the five wise virgins who not only got their lamps ready but also got extra oil. Like St. Paul advices us, let us work out our salvation in fear and trembling. 

Nevertheless, despite the difficulties we encounter in doing the will of God, the homilist called on all Christians to have faith and hope in Jesus and never despair in his mercy. His mercy was shown in forgiving the penitent thief on the cross and he can still forgive us our sins if we approach him with faith and humility. He called on anyone who has fallen from the state of grace to approach Jesus in the confessional and get himself reconciled with God.

As regards the souls of the faithful departed who have gone before us, the Cardinal reminded us that it is our duty to pray for them, especially, for the soul of the late bishop Anthony Ilonu whom we have gathered to lay to rest. According to him, we have to pray for those who are passing through the purifying fire of purgatory and the best way of helping them is to offer the holy sacrifice of the mass on their behalf. Therefore, he urged all present to entrust the soul of Bishop Ilonu to God in prayers through the powerful intercession of our loving mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary who will accept him and introduce him to Jesus. May his gentle soul rest in peace. Amen.

Uwakwe Chibuike
Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu

NB: Please always return here (Uwakwe Reflections) for your Sunday Reflections and lots more. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Anonymous12:53 pm

    Dear Uwakwe,
    You have done a great job the diocesan website couldn't even do. Thanks for keeping us informed. I also read your sunday reflections and they are indeed very great. I'm happy to see the star in you. What class are you in bigard? Please keep it up. Obinna, Austria

  2. Anonymous12:59 pm

    I was asked to visit your site for update of the bishop's burial and I was not dissapointed.

  3. Fr. Joe,Rome.6:14 pm

    My dear,you are really wonderful.Keep on keeping on and may the lord be with you and support you.May he grant you more wisdom.BRAVO! Fr. Joe,Rome.


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