By Alex Uzoigwe
The inmates of the Onitsha Correction Centre, Anambra State, experienced an unprecedented new lease of life on Sunday, June 19, 2022 when the Bishop on the Niger, the Rt Rev Dr Owen Nwokolo, visited them with various food items, beddings and two live cows.
The bishop had during the visit administered the sacrament of confirmation to 25 inmates of the centre and also admitted 23 of the male members into the Anglican Boys’ Fellowship (AYF) of the diocese.
In the 20-minute homily that preceded the ceremonial rites, Bishop Nwokolo explained what he said baptism and confirmation meant in the spiritual life of a christian.
According to him, baptism which precedes confirmation means “burying us in Christ in water”, saying, “it symbolises cleansing and refreshness”, adding that without the Holy Spirit which he said is imparted at confirmation, it would be hard for one to be a christian.
“Christ said that without Him we can do nothing,” stating that baptism and confirmation were the beginning of man’s journey to God.
“We were born in sin”, he said, ” but it is through the water of Christ we are saved.
“Baptism is death to sin and resurrection unto life. So if we are dead unto sin we should avoid sin at all cost, knowing that our nature has been buried in the death of Christ.
“We should therefore include ourselves as those who died with Christ,” the bishop enjioned christians.
Bishop Nwokolo admonished the young communicants not to allow sin to rule their lives any more, advising, “Don’t give your lives again to Satan. From today, don’t present your selves to Satan as instrument and don’t allow him to use your body as instrument. When you obey these injunctions, you are, in fact, moving towards God”, the bishop assured them.
While praying for the inmates, Bishop Nwokolo encouraged them to have faith in God who he said is not forgetful of their plight telling them that one day God would remember them.
He presented two cows, 56 coolers of rice,160 pieces of mats and 110 blankets to the inmates. Also, each of the newly confirmed inmates received a copy of the Holy Bible and one Book of the Common Prayer, Epkere na Abụ.
In his response while receiving the items, the Controller of Corrections, Anambra State Command, C.C. Pat Chukwuemeka (fsi) who spoke through the Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Correction Services, Supt Francis Ekezie, commended the bishop and the Diocese on the Niger for their generosity.
He said that the presence of the diocese in the place was highly appreciated by the authorities of the Nigerian Custodian
Center, adding that the efforts of the church in helping to restore the inmates was invaluable.
The controller appealed to the diocese not to relent in the good work he said Diocese on the Niger was effecting in the centre especially in re-engineering the spiritual and moral lives of the people in the place.
He also urged the inmates to reciprocate the good spiritedness of the church by positively responding to various spiritual and moral teachings he said they regularly received from the benefactor diocese.
In a brief press chat shortly after the event, the Assistant Chaplain, Chapel of Restoration, Rev. Canon (Dr) Cornelius Eze, who represented the Chaplain of the chapel, Ven John Nkwoemezie, explained that the current year’s outting superseded the previous ones.
He said that apart from the deep moral and spiritual tones of this year’s candidates, the glamour added to the ceremony was the presentation of a copy of the Holy Bible and a copy of Ekpere na Abụ to each of the young communicants.
He commended Bishop Nwokolo for making out time to think about the welfare of the inmates as well as considering it worthwhile to reach out to them and together shared spiritual and material blessings with them.
Rev Canon Dr Eze appealed for volunteer church workers to help the chaplaincy’s weekly ministrations, lamenting that the place needed more hands to help beef up the services of the chaplaincy in the center.
The bishop was accompanied by his wife, Dr Nonyelum Nwokolo, a team of his ministers and numerous parishioners from across the diocese.