It was an epoch event at St. Joseph the Catholic Church Agbor on Sunday August 5, 2018 as friends, parishioners came together to celebrate the Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Ifeanyinachukwu Mozia in a Holy Mass to mark his three fold anniversary of 75th birthday, 45th years of priesthood ordination and retirement from active service.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Mozia before his retirement doubled as the Parish Priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Vicar-General of Issele-Uku Diocese, the positions which he had held for over ten years since August 10, 2008 upon his return from sabbatical leave to the New Yorth city, U.S.A which according to him are among the most fruitful and challenging experiences in his Priestly Ministry. For this, he thanked God for giving him the opportunity to serve despite all odds, and for retiring strong.
It was for these great achievements and services to the parish that the St. Joseph’s Parish set aside Sunday, August 5, 2018 to celebrate and bid farewell to the Reverend father for his laudable services and achievements.
During the homily, Assistant Parish Priest of St. Joseph, Rev. Fr. Joseph Okoli lauded his courage and strength in the service of God throughout his years in the ministry, stating that the dynamic father has excelled beyond limits as a scholar and a priest and in other facets of life.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Ifeanyinachukwu Mozia, born on July 28, 1943 to a catholic family of late Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Mozia of Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South L.G.A of Delta Started as a young pupil of St. Charles Primary School, Ubulu-Uku, an academic pursuit which he later completed at St. Michael Primary School now Abuedo Primary School, Ubulu-Uku in 1960. In January 1961, he got admitted into the St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Benin City which he completed in 1966 with good grades and thereafter, proceeded in 1967 to Saints Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan for his priesthood training.
On December 23, 1973, he was ordained by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji (the pioneer Bishop of Issele-Uku Diocese). This event served as a landmark in the history of the Diocese as the first priest to be ordained by the new Bishop of the new Diocese of Issele-Uku after being carved out of Benin Diocese a few months earlier. The ordination of Msgr. Mozia was one of the earliest ordinations in Aniocha nation which has since the time, seen Msgr. Mozia to be outstanding in all areas of his life.
His life as a priest was characterized by immense sacrifice which placed him after his ordination on his assignment at St. John the Baptist Parish, Agbor where he worked for six months before he was redeployed to St. Joseph Catholic Church, Asaba on relief of duty for three months following the timorous crises that rocked the Diocese at that time.
As a young priest notwithstanding, his timely presence among the people of St. Joseph Catholic Church x-rayed the full proof of his outstanding leadership quality and a sterling gift of conflict management which projected naturally in all his dealings in those moments of turbulence that threatened the peace of the nascent Diocese.
After three months at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Asaba, he was sent to teach at St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Benin-City for two years. He came back in September 1976 and was made the Parish priest of St. John’s Catholic Church, Agbor where he inspired many young lives with his brilliant erudition, teaching and aiding the youth to discover their personal areas of interests.
The quest for further knowledge endeared him to proceed to Rome in 1977 for his Post-Graduate Studies at Potificio Universities Lateranesis of the institute of Moral Theology (Academia Alfosonia), Rome where he obtained his Licentiate (Master Degree) in Moral Theology in 1979 and his doctorate degree in 1981 in the same discipline. He also had a Master’s degree in Pedagogy at the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome, graduating with First Class Honours in all levels of his academic pursuit.
On his return in 1982, Msgr. Mozia was posted to Mary Immaculate Parish Ogwashi-Uku as the Parish Priest; a foray that allowed a bit of fresh air away from serious academic works. In January 1983, he was recruited as a member of staff of the SS Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodaji, Ibadan where he occupied the position of the HOD, Moral Theology. He was also the Dean of Students for 14 years and the Head of Theology Department for 11 years. He tutored various courses amongst which were: Fundamental Principles of Moral Theology, Human Sexuality and Celibacy, Theology of Marriage, Theology of Penance Virtues, Applied Ethics and Christian Religious Education (Catechesis).
Finally, in July 2017, he completed his assiduous work in the seminary, spending a total sum of 25years in the seminary, forming future priests most of whom are Priests, Bishops and Archbishops now.
The prolific writer and academician apart from numerous outstanding academic papers and articles published in various journals, has crowned his academic pursuit with several books to his name which includes; Because He Loves Me (Autobiography): Discovering God’s Love in My Life, The Eclipse of God Today, The Hidden Secret of my Strength and others too numerous to mention.
Speaking at the Mass while giving his vote of thanks, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Michael Mozia thanked the Parishioners of St. Joseph for their care and love upon his life, saying that without them he would not have been able to achieve the much he achieved.
In his words, “Without your help I would not have been here and without your support, I would not have been able to achieve the much I achieved. Nothing happens without a purpose and so, It is the will of God that I spend the remaining part of my ministry here with you because anywhere you find yourself at any given time, that is where God wants you to be.
“I thank the Rev. Fr. Joseph Okoli, Rev. Fr. Philip and other Fathers present for their love and care, and for finding time to come celebrate with me. I also want to appreciate you all for standing by me throughout the period of my health and life challenges.
Continuing, he pleaded for forgiveness in areas where he might not have lived up to expectation or wronged anybody knowing and unknowingly in the course of discharging his duties. “I also beg God for mercy too,” he said.
Speaking briefly with Ika Weekly reporters after the Mass, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Ifeanyichukwu Michael Mozia said the day was a memorable day in his life which marked a threefold celebration in his life; 75years birthday, 45years of his priesthood ordination and retirement from active service.
Describing his ministerial life, he said, “It has been wonderful. God took over my life even when there were a lot of challenges, because He said, ‘You didn’t chose me; I choose you.’ John 15:16. God has chosen me and commissioned me for his work. As a result of this, my life has been very fruitful inspite of life challenges and difficulties.
“I spent 25years training future priests and bishops of which about 13 of them are Bishops today. I spent 11years as Head of Theology Department and Dean of Students for 14years making it 25years of my life I spent in the seminary at SS Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan after I had spent over 5years in Rome, where I did my two Masters and Ph.D before I came back with First Class and landed at the Seminary. The Lord is good to me.
“It was a bit difficult, rough and challenging at some point but God cannot give you beyond what you can carry. When He sends you to do something, He gives you all the blessings and grace required to accomplish it. While I was going to school and teaching I was also writing books. I have written so many books of which the last one I have written is the one I am using to mark this celebration which is titled, “The Hidden Secrets of My Strength.” With the book, I intend to portray the source of my strength. It is my medium to share with people about the faithfulness of God in my life in spite of difficulties and challenges. My life is so much overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving to God and this is because of His unconditional love for me. “Because He Loves Me” is also one of the books I have written. The book is an autobiography of my humble self because I discovered God’s love upon my life.
“However, I have asked, why have people not seen His love upon my life? Then, I wrote another book, “The Eclipse of God Today.” This was written five years ago when I celebrated my 70th birthday.”
Describing his 10years stay at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Michael Mozia said, “At the beginning, it was very rough. I passed through a lot of hurdles but as time went on, God said to me, “This is where I have sent you and I am not taking you away. Go and do my work!” Hence, he gave me the strength to carry on the task. Today, many of the people have changed. We are all friends now, we are working together very well now, and that is why we are celebrating together. The 45years of my ministry in spite of the challenges has however been very fruitful.”
Giving his advice to the younger priests, he said, “My word for them is; focus on God who called you and not depend on material things and riches. It does not give satisfaction; only spirituality gives satisfaction. St. Augustine tells us, ‘Our hearts are made for God; our hearts cannot find rest until we find rest in God.’ Only God can give you rest. If you follow and trust God, He will give you the strength to do the work and even riches will be added to you. They should not allow material things to stop them from doing God’s work. Their mandate is to save souls and win people to God and this should be their main focus.”
In the words of the Parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church, they described him as a teacher, extra-ordinary grass-root evangelizer, a prolific writer and scholar per excellence, a disciplinarian, a committed man of prayer and dynamic and committed catholic priest, emphasizing that he was a father whose fraternal affection will be missed by all as he sees and refers to all as sons and daughters. They said, “He is uncompromising, unrelenting and doggedly faithful to the teachings. ‘A difficult, conservative and a hard priest” as he is fondly referred to yet, a caring and compassionate father of all.”