June 23, 2017 – It Is Bishop Shanahan Day With A Difference:
Rosary Procession,Animation,Cultural display,Create Excitement As Archdiocesan Chancellor,Fr Emeka Aroh Acts Colonial Interpreter
By Ononye VC
This years Bishop Shanahan Day celebration held during the week appeared to be more solemn and interesting as new initiatives of the Archbishop of Onitsha,Most Rev Valerian Okeke gave a true spiritual dimension to the event thus indicating that the cause for beatification of the Servant of God and pioneer Bishop of the Archdiocese of Onitsha,Bishop Joseph Ignatius Shanahan will soon materialise.
The Archbishops initiative include declaration of Bishop Shanahan Week where teachings on the works of Bishop Shanahan and other early missionaries were showcased in all the parishes across the Archdiocese of Onitsha.In order to sensitize the faithful adequately,a novelty and exciting football match played out between the Christ the King College (CKC) and St Charles College,Onitsha wherein CKC beat St Charles College 1-0.
The atmosphere inside the Basilica Square,venue of the match was tense and colorful as spectators from within and outside the Basilica,a handful of priests and the religious and dozens of students from both sides came with drums and gongs to cheer their team-sides.
The environment was so much charged with breath taking actions by the players and live commentaries by Sir Ononye VC and Mr Greg Okwadike Maduakor.
After the weeklong activities in the parishes,the grand finale started with a Rosary procession from the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity premises to the river bank for the animation.Rev Fr Oliver Anolue who acted Fr Shanahan,arrived on the bank of the river Niger in a canoe with his entourage to the warm embrace of the local people.
The Chancellor of the Archdiocese,Very Rev Fr Emeka Aroh led a colorful contingent of various church groups from the CMO,CWO,CYON and other members of the catholic community to receive Fr Shanahan as he was then known.
The entire faithful then happily returned to the Basilica,passing through the very steps from where Bishop Shanahan and the early missionaries arrived the Basilica premises.
Fr Shanahan ( Fr.Anolue) addressed the huge gathering in English language,thanking them for their hospitality while the Chancellor Rev Fr Emeka Aroh acted as a colonial interpreter as he interpreted Fr Shanahans speech and appreciation to the people in Igbo Language,all to the excitement of all.
Rev Sr Kate Asomugha,traced the history of the arrival of Bishop Shanahan in 1902 and also highlighted his numerous contributions towards the spiritual and material growth of Southern Nigeria especially in education and his exploits in Ogboli village,Onitsha.
The Parish priest of St Joseph Catholic Church,Rev Fr Justin Oguama in a homily hailed Archbishop Valerian Okeke,pointing out that this years Bishop Shanahan celebration was superbly packaged and enriching.Fr Oguama referred to Shanahan as one who had the soul of an apostle,describing him as a consummate educationist,and an evangelist who discharged his apostolate efficiently by creating Christian villages,orphanages,hospitals and schools for the good of the people.
Fr Oguama delivered the Archbishops message admonishing the faithful to imbibe apostolic courage and to continue to pray for speedy beatification of the great disciple,Shanahan.
At the reception,a heart warming lecture on the life and times of Bishop Shanahan was delivered by Rev Sr Ifeyinwa Mouegbunam which drew a huge applause from the audience.
Earlier before the end of the mass,a special prayer was offered for the sick and infirm.
Other highlight include cultural dance by a CMO cultural troupe and interventions from the audience.
Photo shows some of the actions at the event.