Igbo Catholics have a first Communion celebration

It is extremely important for children to understand and stay connected to their heritage. At Sacred Heart Church in Cedar Brook, Father Joachim Oforchukwu, C.S.Sp and his congregation make it a normal practice to stay connected to their Igbo heritage. On the third Sunday of each month the 1 p.m. Mass is celebrated in the Igbo language.
Igbo is the principal native language of the Igbo people, an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria.
The Igbo first holy Communion celebration took place at Sacred Heart Church on Feb. 9, after months of catechism classes taught by Father Oforchukwu and Chioma Sharon Nzenwa.
The Igbo community is the fastest growing community that is part of the Black Catholic Ministry, Lifelong Faith Formation in the Diocese of Camden.
The chief celebrant was Father Oforchukwu. In his homily, he explained the meaning of the Eucharist: Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Jesus is the bread of life (John 5: 35-58). Father Oforchukwu challenged the communicants to be light and salt of the Earth as espoused in the Gospel.
Amanda Onyeyemla gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the first holy Communion communicants. She expressed her appreciation in being able to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. On behalf of all the first holy Communion communicants, she articulated their happiness and appreciation for the support and prayers of the parents and all those who came to witness this special moment in her life.
Uche Odoemena thanked Father Oforchukwu and Nzenwa for preparing the children for the sacrament. She also asked the Igbo community to support their spiritual director, Father Oforchukwu, in his efforts to evangelize the Igbo Catholic community in the Camden Diocese.
Chief Joseph Okafor asked the communicants to walk with Jesus for the rest of their lives. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Father Oforchukwu welcomed all nine communicants to the Igbo Catholic community in the diocese.
After the Eucharistic celebration, the communicants took pictures with the chief celebrant, the parents and the entire Igbo Catholic community in attendance. After the picture takings, the attendees proceeded to Teppanyaki Buffet in Clementon where they had a brotherly agape meal. The celebration was not only beautiful, but also a memorable observance of the Catholic faith.
Ngozi Ugoh, a member of the Igbo Catholic community, expressed her appreciation of the readings being in the Igbo language. “We’re indeed challenged to endeavor to instill our culture to our children,” she said.
Nzenwa, a true asset to the Igbo church, teaches songs in the Igbo language that will further enhance the children’s knowledge of their heritage.
The Diocese of Camden is most grateful to Father Oforchukwu for his inspiration, support, encouragement and his determination to preach the Gospel and grow the church. He is a good teacher who loves his students.

James E. Andrews is director, Black Catholic Ministry, Diocese of Camden.


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