By Olivia Obijiaku
While heaven rejoices over the death of Mike we here mourn, but we should look at it with a positive lens. At times, you will be tempted to ask questions or to challenge God about what has happened – you might have your preoccupation. But then, the Book of Wisdom admonishes us not to think of death as destruction but as a transition.
The remains of the former Assistant Chief Servant and the immediate past Secretary of the Association of Catholic Trained Evangelizers of Nigeria (ACTEN) of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria, Evang Michael Ugwuigba who died on Friday, 7th January, 2022 were laid to rest on Friday, 28th January, 2022.
At the Mass of wake keep which was held in his honour in Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on Monday, 24th January, 2022, the group’s Chaplain and the Director of St Pope John Paul II School of Evangelization, Graceland Zaria, Rev Fr Sebastian Vincent oriented that the faithful gathered around the altar of God to pray for the repose of the soul of the departed and the consolation of the bereaved; to pay him their last respect and to take stock of their lives.
“The only difference between Mike and we is time.” The chaplain stated. “While heaven rejoices over the death of Mike we here mourn, but we should look at it with a positive lens. At times, you will be tempted to ask questions or to challenge God about what has happened – you might have your preoccupation. But then, the Book of Wisdom admonishes us not to think of death as destruction but as a transition. If we talk about giving thanks in every circumstance it means that moments like this are not exempted. Your faith in Good must be strong before you give thanks in moments like this. I see death as a crossing from mortality to immortality – we must all make this crossing.
When I met Mike in March, last year, I knew he was an authentic Christians and evangelizer. He never misses Mass except his health condition put him down. He did his best to make sure that evangelizers of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria worked well. He has fulfilled his mission on earth. Those who knew how he suffered will deem it right to say that God has taken him to a place of no sorrow and grief. I believe Mike told Jesus that he believed in Him. I believe that he is up there looking at us and smiling from heaven – I believe he is with God. He has gone to be with Jesus in whom he believed. We have to be strong at this moment.
He was a testimony and a challenge for me. When we went to visit him in the hospital, I saw his condition but he still made effort to sit down in order to receive Communion. If someone who was very sick could do that how much more you and I who are strong and healthy. How committed are you?
We have come to pay our respect to Mike but we are also here to look at our lives. This is a time for us to look inward and search ourselves.
Where will I spend my eternity if God calls me now? This should help us search ourselves sincerely and to come to terms with those areas we need to make amends. Do your best to live a good life. Live a life of emulation and a life that will make people proud to talk about you. You don’t need to do much, just live a simple life and God will take care of the rest.
Empathizing with the bereaved, Fr Vincent assured that God who will never abandon them as long as they look up to Him will take care of their stormy moments; nudged them to emulate Job in knowing that their Redeemer lives and to feel free to cry over their loss promising that God and time will heal them.
On behalf of the Parish Laity Council, the Vice Chairman, Prof Andrew Attah Illah commended the deceased’s wife, Evang Grace Ugwuigba for being an obviously responsible wife; submitted that “we don’t have the capacity to stop what has happened” and prayed that the event will change their lives for good.
According to a special tribute by ACTEN which was read by Evang Ugwuigba’s successor, Evang Betty Daniel, the late scribe will be greatly missed for his staunch and contagious faith in God; love for His people and their wellbeing; doggedness as well as his dedication and commitment to the progress of the group and the evangelistic mission of the Church and of Christ.
Similarly, late 2021the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria, Very Rev Fr Patrick Adikwu delivered the homily at the Mass of the wake keep of a devoted member of the group, Evang Dennis Obiabo whose wake keep coincidentally took place the same week he was meant to pass out of the mandatory service to the nation.
Evang Dennis Obiabo
Then, Fr Adikwu empathized with members of the family that lost three members within few years but encouraged them to be consoled by the glory of Resurrection rather than on death itself.
“I know that a lot will be going on in the mind of the family.” The chancellor voiced. “You may be saying to the Lord, ‘if this is a game, we don’t want to play it and if it is a test, shift it to another family – but death is not a choice. It is a reality – we must all face it. The family lost a son a few years ago. Just last year, the family lost the father and today, we are gathered for Dennis. To the family, life seems hopeless and not enjoyable. God is aware of whatever that has been happening in your family. I am consoled that so many people said so many good things about him. Do not focus on death at a moment like this, focus on the reality of the Resurrection. There is hope for our brother Dennis because Jesus said ‘unless a man be born with water and of Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God; unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood, you shall not have life in you,’ and our brother was baptized and he participated in the Eucharist. I know that he struggled to do the will of God and that he might have committed some sins, but God is merciful. May He console the family, the Church and his friends.”
Representing the family, the deceased elder brother, Evang Joseph Obiabo narrated how Dennis died few days to the completion of his mandatory service to Nigeria and how they had all anticipated the commencement of the automatic employment he was offered in his place of service but resigned to their helplessness in the face of the unexpected and painful exit of his brother. He also solicited prayers for the family.