ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC CHURCH: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
By Godwin Asekomhe
The Catholic Church named after the Patron Saint ” St John The Baptist Catholic Church, Ogbona in Etsako Central Local government Area, Edo State was established in the early 20s. The pioneers of Lay Faithful were: Robert Odogbo, Cletus Eshiemhomoh Anaweokhai Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe (Apemheye Asekomhe ( the biological father of Evangelizers Godwin Asekomhe). Others were: George Okomilo, Martins Esi Balogun, Richard Asekomhe, David Agbiko Enamhino, Thomas Eragbe, Michael Idodo, Erumhire, Dominic Enamhino, , Bernard Ozibe Ogboalo, and Mathias Ekiegbmhe Atsegwosi.
” If this pioneering lay faithful members of the young Catholic Church expected grand reception among Ogbona people, it was a a dream taken too far. They were met with fair resistance, opposition and persecution. The local saw the religion as a knife wedge in the heart of the things that held their community together, their way of life with the Scriptural teaching against pagan practices like sacrifices to idols, okhei traditional rites, and their way of life. etc. This soon brought the church head on conllision with the traditionalist.
The school was seen as an extension of that alien culture were children were subject to such inhuman treatment as caning and as such most parents refused to send their children to school.” (Pastor Odior Anaweokhai: unpublished search work).
Matters were not helped by lack of able bodied men to steer the affair of the new church. Mr. Robert Odogbo, the pioneer head Christian and Catechist was based in Auchi. All the clergymen were based in Ivhianogbodi. Mr Cletus Anaweokhai and Mr Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe would go to Ivhianogbodi to collect previous Sundays readings and sermons for Sunday masses at Ogbona. In this regard, Mr Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe was nick named “Obo no bie” which means Black European and “Uwaya” which means Telegram communication officer.
As we are preparing for the canonical dedication of the new church, let all hands be on the desk and work together to make the dedication gloriously glorious to the glory of our ever glorious God.
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC CHURCH: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE PART2.
Today marks the beginning of a new dawn in Ogbona as all roads by land sea and air leads to the NEW JERUSALEM OF ETSAKO for the Canonical dedication of St John The Baptist Catholic Church, Ogbona, Etsako Central Local Government of Edo State by His Lordship Most Rev Dr Gabriel G Dunia, the Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese with his global entourage. Ogbona is the big heart and the heart of Etsako kingdom. So in the part 2 of our discourse we shall take a look at :
PERSECUTION, SUFFERING AND IMPRISONMENT OF THE PIONEER LAY FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF OGBONA CATHOLIC CHURCH.
The arrest, trial, and imprisonment of of the pioneer members of the Catholic Church in Ogbona was the height of the British Colonial iron fist rule in Ogbona, Nigeria and West African Subregion in general at the dawn of the 20th Century. British stronghold in Nigeria was palpable in all spheres of life. . The Great Benin Massacre at the end of the 19th century was icy on the cake. Other smaller kingdoms suffer lesser or greater fate too.
Manhandling a Court Bailiff was crass resistance and self assertion against British rule. Consequently everything has to be done to reassert British dominance in the political sphere, hence the summary trial and imprisonment of the early pioneering Lay Faithful in Ogbona in the early 1930, when Mr Agbiko Enamhino had an issue with one of the unbeliever. The battle line was drawn between the christians and the traditionalists in the order of the the battle line drawn between the offsprings of the woman (Eve) and the offsprings of the Serpent (Devil) by God in the Garden of Eden by God ( Gen3vs15; Rev12vs13-17).
Mr Agbiko Enamhino was served a writ of summon by the customary court Bailif from Fugar. The pioneer Catholic Lay Faithful members in Ogbona church resolved to break with the tradition as guarded by their christian faith against bribery and corruption by depriving the Court Bailiff his usual ” four pence, a fowl and tubers of yam.” When the court Bailiff insisted on collecting his entitlement (bribe) with threat and force , he was assaulted. This was a sacrilegious acts . It was fragrant disobedience to a constituted authority based in Auchi, which the British District Office did not find funny nor palatable. The Colonial D O personally came to Fugar to preside over the case. The pioneer members were sentenced to two (2) months imprisonment with fourteen (14) stroke of cane.
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC CHURCH: THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (PART3).
There was no church in Auchi , being predominantly a Muslim Community where the seven (7) pioneer Lay Faithful members of the Catholic Church in Ogbona were jailed for two months as at 1931-1932. While serving their jail term, one strange event that boosted the inspiration, encouragement and boldness of the young Ogbona Catholic Church occurred in the prison cell. The strange occurrence was the discovery of a strange small bell Mr. Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe while serving two months jail term along with six others pioneer members at Auchi prison on the account of their Catholic faith and the spread of the gospel of Christ in Ogbona and environs. “A day before the completion of their jail term, as usual after praying the Rosary, they all went to sleep, but early in the morning Mr. Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe woke up to see a strange bell close to where he laid his head like in the days of the Apostles of Christ ( Acts 12vs 1-11). As they all pointed out , nobody entered their room that night. At the end they concluded it could be nothing but the miracle of God to boost their faith and commitment to the great commission of evangelisation” (Pastor Odior Anaweokhai’s unpublished work).
The strange bell is available for the Catholic church and all to see. It is Elder Vincent Asekomhe – 1st son of Late Papa Nicholas Apemheye Asekomhe.
As we simultaneously celebrate and mourn and drink from the cup of those who laid down their lives for the solid foundation, growth and development of the church in Ogbona, Auchi Diocese, and Nigeria in general, May the awesome glory and grace of God descend upon His church and people for the protection, preservation, provision and sustenance of His church and people in Jesus name. May the soul of the late Ogbona son, a Catholic Priest of Auchi Diocese Rev Fr Christopher Odia Ogedegbe and all the faithful departed rest in the bossom of the Lord God Almighty till we meet to part no more.