UPDATED BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IFAKALA
By Rev. Fr. Anthony Okechukwu Azuwike
Before the advent of Christianity in Ifakala the good people of this town were traditional religionists. The fact remains that the Catholic Church set its foot on the soil of Emekuku in 1912, having migrated from Ulakwu Obube.
This Traditional religion reigned supreme in Ifakala until four years later i.e. 1916 when Mr. Ekeozor Duruigbo traveled to Emekuku in quest of the Christian Religion. Through his influence and unrelenting efforts, the Christian Faith was established in Ifakala Town that same year. Eventually, this development gave way from the “Ala –cult to the worship of the supreme deity – “Chukwu”, by many good people of Ifakala. Thus, with the assistance of such catechists like Mr. Daniel Okechukwu, Njoku Achugamonu and Mr. Onugha, sent from Emekuku to Ifakala by Rev. Fr. D. Wash, evangelization spread like wild fire to all the facets of Ifakala and by 1921 the Catholic Church was formally sited at its present position with the sane SAINT JOSEPH’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, IFAKALA. Let us not loose the sight of the fact the among the first catechumens were the late Patrick Kemnakwu, George Amadi, Vincent Ehirim, John Anujenwe, Peter Obijuru and Pius Emeali.
Ifakala remained part and parcel of Emekuku Parish until 1947 when Ogbaku was elevated to the status of Parish with Rev. Fr. F. C. Ryan as its first Parish Priest. For more than two decades, Ifakala Catholic community was part of Ogbaku Parish. By 6th January, 1993, they were elevated to a parish status made possible by his Lordship, Most Rev Dr. Mark O Unglue at the present site. The official inauguration of the new Parish was in 1993, bearing the same name ST JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC PARISH, IFAKALA with Rev Fr. Donald Niangua as the first Parish Priest. He was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Cornelius Ajaegbu. The present and the 4thh Parish priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish is Rev. Fr. Victor Eleba. Today it is estimated that there over 16,000 Christians in Ifakala.
The Saint Joseph’s Catholic Parish Ifakala is a one town Parish with five stations as follows:
St. Mary’s Umutaku/Umungwo
Sacred heart, Owere Ifakala
St. Joseph’s Uba/Amazu
Holy Trinity Station, Amafor.
The Parish council officials have been Mr. James Nwaiwu from 1993-1995, Assisted by Mr. Alexander Nwanekepe. The Secretary is Mr. Bede Nwawume. Mr. Peter Nwaiwu from 1995-1999.He was assisted by Mr. Bede Nwawume. Secretary Mr. Luke M Asika.
Dr. Emmanuel Ugwulebo from the y ear 2000 till date was assisted by Bro. Lawrence Azuwukie. Secretary Lolo Oluchi Ahaneku.
CMO President J.I. Ndunagum from 1993-1999, Peter Nwaiwu from 2000 to date. The CWO President is Nneoma Mrs. Justina Dike from 1993-1999. Nneoma Mrs. Eunice Dimunah from 2000 till date.
Rev Fr. Dr. Livings Egbuchulem, Rev. Fr. Jude Ike, Rev. Fr. Jonas Nwaiwu, Rev Fr. Erasmus Egenonu, C.S. SP and Rev Fr. Anthony Okechukwu Azuwike.
Rev Sisters are
Rev sister Maureen Mark Iwu, Rev Sister Rachel Narie Okolorie, Rev Sister Lelia N.D. Okolorie.
The Parish is very hopeful in the Priesthood race as there are many of its sons preparing and studying in various major Seminaries. There is no gain saying that the fact the Catholic Faith is grown from strength to strength in the town hence the church can boldly claim to have some of its members initiated into the Pious Organization like the prestigious order of Knight of St. Mulumba (KSM) and the knight of St John International (KSJ) and the Knight of Columbus (KC). These distinguished gentlemen and their ladies have been rendering immeasurable assistance/services to the steady grown of the Parish. However, it is hoped that in no distant time, many more adherents will get initialed into these pious organization from Ifakala Parish.
In the St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish, Ifaka, the following organization operates:
The Catholic Men Organization (CMO), The Catholic Women Organization (CWO), The Legion of Mary, The St Jude’s Society, The sacred Heart Society, The Mary League Girls Association, The Catholic Bible Society, The St Anthony’s Guild, The Catholic Youth Organization, The Catholic Charismatic Renewal, The Lay Readers’ association, The parish and Station Choirs, The Mass Servers association The Block Rosary, etc.