Umuahia — While he lived, the late Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, Msgr Raphael Okechukwu Madu, made tremendous and positive impact on both the Church and the society.
His transition has continued to generate very deep sense of loss and indeed he would remain unforgettable in the minds of those that crossed his path. Msgr Madu completed the journey of faith on when he succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was buried on Junaury 22, 2021, five days after his transition with strict compliance to government directives on COVID-19. Thus, owing to the circumstances and suddeness of his exit, so many people could not attend Rt. Rev Msgr Madu's funeral to bid him final goodbye. However, on Thursday February 18, 2021, exactly 31 days after Msgr Madu's demise, his community, Nunya, in Isuikwuato local government of Abia State reverberated as a throng of Catholic clerics and laity poured into St. Paul's Catholic Parish Nunya to mourn with the family and the community over the loss of their illustrious son.
The "Month's Mind" ceremony attracted five Bishops and over 70 priests, who together with the faithful celebrated the life of the departed servant of the Most High God.
The Archbishop of Owerri, His Lordship. Most Rev Anthony Obinna presided over the mass concelebrated with the other bishops. The Vicar-General of Owerri Archdiocese, Rev Fr. Samuel Uzoukwu, who delivered the homily at the mass, reminded everybody that "we come from God and we'll return to God" hence in life we're always on a homeward journey.
He described death as the door that opens to eternity, adding that the Church encourages the faithful not to see death as annihilation but transition to eternal glory.
According to him, the anxiety of the Church is that none of its members should be found wanting at the point of death, adding that Msgr Madu was sacramentary prepared at the time of his transition. The Catholic Bishops all spoke glowingly of the late Msgr Madu, who meritoriously served as the director communication before he became the secretary-general of the Catholic Secretariat.
"We are all very proud of him and will remain so till tomorrow," said Archbishop Obinna. The late priest came from Okigwe Diocese but he belonged to Owerri Archdiocese where he worked in various capacities, including editor of The Leader, the popular diocesan newspaper, director Assumpta Press as well as director of social communications.
Bishop Solomon Amatu of Okigwe Diocese said that Msgr Madu was specially gifted by God to excel in everything he did. According to him, people should be ready and willing to do any assignment given to them by God.
The life and times of Msgr Madu and the sense of loss his demise has continued to evoke were succinctly captured by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Aba, His Lordship, Most Rev Augustine Echema in the homily he delivered at Assumpta Cathedral Owerri during the funeral mass for the late beloved priest. "Msgr was an amiable personality, a friend of all, both small and great, poor and rich, someone who had a listening ear to the cries of the needy, a generous man to a fault.
"By his death, Owerri Archdiocese has lost one of her most illusytiois, most trustworthy and resourceful priest. The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja will miss its indefatigable Secretary-General. The Madu family and Nunya community as a whole will forever miss their goal better and great achiever". Raphael Okechukwu Madu (Ugwumba I of Nunya) was ordained into the Catholic priesthood on July 9, 1983 by late Bishop Mark Unegbu at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Isuikwuato. For 37 years he worked in the Lord's vineyard and finished his work on Sunday, January 17, 2021 at the age of 65.