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BN Reader Agatha Odigie Shares Her Tribute to Reverend Father Festus Ogbonmwan

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Like a candle in the wind, the light of our lives can be blown out. What remains important is the legacy we leave behind. In this vein, BN Reader Agatha Odigie shares her warm tribute to late Reverend Father Festus Ogbonmwan. Before his death, he served as the Parish Priest Of Saint Gabriel The Archangel Catholic Church, Benin City.  BellaNaija passes its condolences to the family, friends and parishioners of this dearly departed man. 

We hope that this tribute will help to keep positive memories of Father Ogbonmwan.

***

Forgive me Father. …..
You passed away January 24, 2015 and not a word from me.
The Sunday homilies (sermons) that you delivered at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ugbowo, Benin City were always eagerly anticipated by members of the congregation as we always came away with food for thought. Trust you to always provide one with practical biblical truths for navigating the ‘mine- fields’ of everyday existence. Your homilies commenced without fail with simple choruses. A favourite of yours was:
“Come! Come!! Come!!! Holy Ghost come! ”

Humour was very much part and parcel of you. Without fail, each homily was spiced with one colourful story or analogy. A particular one etched in my mind till date, is one where you praised the transforming powers of make-up, and how a lot of the female-folk seen in church made up to perfection and decked out to the nines were a different story altogether without the heavy embellishments. You related your utter amazement when you paid an early morning visit to a couple’s home in the parish. You were welcomed by the wife who naturally at that time was devoid of make-up. Your amazement was caused by the lady’s face which in your estimation looked like raw meat! You had everyone in very bad stitches that day! Some other time it was how conveniences (toilets/bathrooms) are neglected in some homes. You picked on the seemingly mundane things often overlooked that in the final analysis make a world of difference both spiritually and physically. Being a Catholic was real and meaningful under your watch.

Like a General in the army, you marshalled your troops in the form of the everyday men and women on the Ugbowo-Uselu axis of Benin-City to build a showpiece of an ecclesiastical centre. We really could not wrap our minds around the idea that we could achieve a structure grandiose enough to rival older Cathedrals in Benin-City like St Paul’s, St. Joseph’s or Holy Cross. Left to us, four walls, a roof and a cross to indicate a place of worship would have done very nicely, yet you saw the vision long before we even understood!

All your parishioners were special. You knew most by name and it was like one big happy family, of course not devoid of the politics or intrigues of normal families. You were a stickler for caring for one’s neighbour irrespective of tribe or creed. Even though you moved on to other assignments and parishes, you always remained a permanent fixture in our hearts and lives.

When news came of your demise, the funniest thing occurred; I actually broke out in a big grin. I still cannot quite explain it. Okay, if I tried, I think it would be because crying would have offended the very essence of your jovial effervescent being.

Rest well in our Lord’s bosom, Rev. Father Festus Ogbonwan. You did exceedingly great!

24 Comments

  1. precy

    March 18, 2015 at 7:41 am

    He was indeed a great man. And would be greatly missed.

  2. Chiadika

    March 18, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Rest in peace father, you piloted my spiritual life. you will be greatly missed by all, especially st Patrick church

  3. HENRY

    March 18, 2015 at 8:50 am

    RIP FATHER .

  4. Tess

    March 18, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Rest in peace Padre…

  5. Adaeze Writes

    March 18, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I was so shocked to hear of his demise. Such a great priest! I used to hear so much about him during my years in Uniben. Rest in peace dear father.

  6. Anonymous

    March 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Just like Agatha, I also grew up in St. Patrick’s, Benin city. Father Festus was very kind to my family. We were raised by a single parent and occasionally, he would visit us and present us with foodstuff – rice, garri and tubers of yam, and pray with us. He was a true shepherd to his flock.

    My most cherished experience with Father Festus was a trip to a leprosarium. He asked permission from my mum to take me there when I was on holiday. He wanted me to witness the joy of lepers as they praised and worshipped God despite their infirmity. It was a true lesson on thanksgiving. The journey taught me that I was poor but in good health and so had a reason to be thankful. That experience helped to shape. You will remain in our hearts Father Ogbonmwan, rest in peace.

  7. mena

    March 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Rest in peace father. I remember when we had to go for catechism classes and you strolled in and give us random test. you helped mould my spiritual foundation.

  8. chika dim

    March 18, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Rip to my amiable parish priest.

  9. Jane

    March 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Agatha thanks so much for this post. Rev. Fr Ogbonmwan indeed did great and then some. You touched on so many aspects of Fr Ogbonmwan that any more being said would amount to repetition. Sometime ago when Father visited the UK,on his return he told me about the reception he got from St. Patrick youths who had moved to the UK. He was so proud of them. He was glad they we doing well. That is something that was remarkable about Father;he was always interested in the continual progress of everyone who’d been given to him by God to cater for.
    Words cannot describe how I still miss him. He was a very dependable father. He exemplified fatherhood. He brought the message of Christ to the level understandable by all-big or small,educated or uneducated. He lived the Christian life. He made it clear we’re all human,striving towards perfection. I know he’s up there smiling and dancing to God’s glory like he always did while on earth. Continue to rest in perfect peace Fr Ogbonmwan.

  10. Thomas Isesele

    March 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Rest in peace my padre. I can’t forget your love for me it’s so great that anytime the public address system is faulty, you would bring me out on the altar facing the congregation and scold me just so I’ll do better next time. Thanks to you am one of abuja’s best sound engineers. You will always remain in our hearts. Rest will Rev. Fr Ogbomwan till we meet to part no more.

  11. Bridget Osewa

    March 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Station!!! I can see you. What a wonderful piece. What a better way to honour such a great man. He will sourly and greatly be missed. Rest in the bosom of the Lord, Father. You were one of a kind.

  12. Irene

    March 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks a bunch Agatha for this beautiful post! Am sure if you had your way, you would have gone on and on unending. My entire family are indeed very grateful for Fr. Festus’ life well lived, he will be greatly missed and always always fondly remembered. Eternal rest rest grant unto him o’lord and let Your perpetual light shine upon him… Rest in d lord’s bossom Fr.

  13. Cinny Evans

    March 20, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Rest in peace Father Ogbomwan,till we meet to part no more! Beautiful piece Agatha

  14. Kpirhe Akpevweoghene Daniel

    March 20, 2015 at 1:07 am

    A true Soldier in God’s Mighty Army, now an angel. May his soul continually enjoy rest in God. I had just one opportunity to worship under Him, I still remember, and it was like heaven on earth. God bless his soul.

  15. Fatima

    March 20, 2015 at 2:41 am

    He touched every life he came in contact with. When he visited SA, he spent time with my family and it was one memorable time forever etched in our memory. We spoke just about a week or two before his demise, I never would have believed it would happen. St. Patricks, Ugbowo, oh my! That was home with Father Festus Ogbomwan. We miss you Father and even in death, we love and appreciate you more. Thanks Agatha, thanks.

  16. Brenda Unu

    March 20, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Ah Agatha…. wonderful tribute! Fr Festus was indeed a God-send! I spent most of my adolescent/young adult life in Ugbowo Benin city about the time Fr Festus was in St. Patrick. He was indeed all u say and more! May his amiable soul rest in peace. Well done Agatha!

  17. evelyn

    March 20, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Thank you so much Agatha for this wonderful tribute. This sure brought tears to my eyes again. All u said is indeed what he was and much more. He made sure he officiated my wedding and that of my siblings. He stood by us when we lost our dad. Supported us all thru the burial rite. Always there to listen. Hmm, we spoke when he was on vacation in the US and he said his next vacation was going to be Canada. Hmm. LIFE. FATHER! U will be greatly missed. Continue to rest in God’s blossom.

  18. Abigail

    March 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Words can not explain or express who fr Ogbonmwan really was .growing up in st patrick Catholic Church ugbowo was a wonderful experience with him it was indeed home and one big family he brought Christianity to every door step and gave every child moral valve ,he taught the gospel to everyone and made everyone understand the need to love,care and follow,Christmas celebration was a very big happy celebration in st patrick cos it always extended to poor who has nothing which was his priority .he was a father,a friend and a companion he stood by us as a pillar when we lost our father and made life easy even when we thot it was over.fr Ogbonmwan was a good man,a living saint may his soul and all the soul of the faithful departed rest in peace Amen

  19. Judith

    March 20, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Rev Fr Ogbonski as we popularly call him at st patricks catholic church ugbowo was a great man of God,he is one fr that will visit his parishioners not minding anyone status ,everybody was one before him.He would ask about everything when he sees u ,up to your relationship he wants to know .i remember he would say dont allow those boncons deceive you ooo.we miss him so much .After some many years of posting out of st patricks he was still invited to come and celebrate weddings in st patricks. Rest on great Man of God.

  20. Duodoberry

    March 20, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    RIP Fr, you were a great man.

  21. Jovital Momoh

    March 20, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    RIP Fr….well done Agatha.

  22. Cordelia Osewa-Ediae

    March 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    My dearest smallie… What a wonderful tribute. I am sure Father is smiling down with pride. Thanks so much xxxx C

  23. Alero

    April 2, 2015 at 9:58 am

    He was also in Holy Spirit Catholic Church and baptised my elder twin brothers. Like Agatha stated, he knew virtually all his parishioners by name.

    He was also in the habit of calling my siblings and I “bockons” (whatever that meant 😀 ). He had been a pillar of support to my family, especially when one of my elder twin brothers died in 2013. I could go on and on… I didn’t even realise he was ill… 🙁 We will miss you Father… You live on.

  24. Ogboro-Okor L

    April 7, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    RIP to one of the most dedicated .

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