By Chidi Nkwopara
About 40 inmates of Owerri Federal Prisons received the sacrament of confirmation, while 17 others denounced their membership of secret cults, when the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J.V. Obinna, paid a pastoral visit to the establishment.
Obinna, who presided during a special Pontifical Mass held at Saint Lazarus Catholic Chaplaincy in Owerri Prisons, challenged Christians to lead righteous lives, noting that anyone who loved living in sin was in spiritual bondage.
Preaching the homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to resist the temptation of engaging in immorality and evil practices, so as to attract God’s abundant blessings.
The fiery Catholic cleric stressed the importance for people to show love to those in need and emulate Jesus Christ who, he said, came into the world to serve and save mankind, despite His exalted position.
The Archbishop, who also took some time off to drill the recipients of the sacrament of confirmation to ascertain their level of the knowledge of Catechism, said with the administration of the sacrament, they were now equipped to confront the challenges of the faith.
He expressed regret that “a number of people are sometimes pushed into the prison out of hatred, bitterness, money or power, whereas those who are criminals are moving around freely in society”.
The Archbishop said: “The Christmas celebration gives us the challenge to proclaim the good news to everybody and to make those who are in prison or incarcerated to realize that they are also the children of God.”
Directing his mind to next year’s general elections, the cleric called on politicians to play by the rules of the game and ensure that only credible leaders were elected.
“I charge the people, particularly the electoral umpires, to ensure that the elections are free and fair in this country, as they prepare for party primaries and the elections, so that our story will be different this time”, Obinna pleaded.
It was his considered opinion that the nation has had more than its fair share of rigging and violence, stressing that the electorate should first vote for God before voting for politicians.
“We have had enough rigging in this country. We have had enough violence in this country. I challenge our people to vote for God first of all before voting for politicians and look for the least greedy among the lot”, Archbishop Obinna said.
Some of the recipients of the sacrament, Collins Okoro, Ifeanyi Ofoegbu and George Onyeneke said it was a memorable day in their lives, adding that they have been spiritually uplifted, even as they pleaded with those outside to ensure they don’t commit any crime that will bring them into the prison.