A WARNING HAS GONE out to the elderly not to curse their children and grandchildren, even in anger, because “you have authority, power on your tongue.”

“Don’t curse anybody... for it will come to pass,” says Rev. Fr Paul Akinyode at Ss Peter and Paul Pro-Cathedral, Lagere, Ile Ife, Osun State.

Fr Akinyode gave this advice on 3 November at the historic “Ojumirale celebration,” which was organised to honour the aged in their midst, and the parishioners, friends and relations watched as Fr Akinyode thanked God for granting them the grace to see old age.

FrAkinyode was assisted by Very Rev. Fr Nicholas Okesola, priest in residence, and Rev. Fr Lawrence Adebisi, associate priest.

Old age gives us leisure to put off our earthly garments one by one and dress ourselves for heaven,” said Fr Akinyode as he celebrated the pillars of faith.

In his homily, Fr Akinyode said that he was reading Psalm 90: 10 one early morning after Mass and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. The scripture says, “Seventy years is all we have - eighty years if we are strong...”

Fr Akinyode paused and ruminated over the verse for 30 minutes “and the Holy Spirit told me that whoever lived for 80 years received grace , even if it is in trials, tribulations and troubles.”

The priest said, “When I got to the office the next morning, Mr Dele Ehirim told me during our discussion that he was thinking of something called “Ezi nne, Ezi nna.”

I asked him for the Yoruba interpretation and he said, “Odun awon agba.”

“I told him that it was God’s spirit that spoke through his mouth because God had earlier told him to celebrate all the elders that are 80 years, plus one or minus one or two years.”

The elders were to be gathered and honoured. More importantly, they should thank God for keeping them alive.

“This is the first of its kind in  the  Catholic Diocese of Osogbo and, for this reason, I greet our fathers and mothers: ‘E ku orire’ and the blessing will not  be  snatched by Satan, the wicked and the enemies ... for this reason we are celebrating ‘Ojumirale,’” he said.

Fr Akinyode told the aged that Bishop John Oyejola of Osogbo would have loved to be in their midst but he had to travel for an engagement. However, “the bishop said I should celebrate you because you are fortunate and blessed.”

The priest gave them reasons for thanking God. One, he said, a story went viral on the Internet as some boys raped and killed a 100-year-old woman, which he said was a pointer to our decadent society.

“Two, the church is celebrating you while you are alive; knowing full well that after your death, whatever your children do is just entertainment. The dead is gone,” he said.

Fr Akinyode then gave an instance. “There was a man who begged to eat ... even a day before he died, some people came to me and said that the man said he was hungry.

 “When he died one of the six children came home from South Africa. They came to my office and they behaved arrogantly.

“I told them not to forget that I am a Catholic priest. I am not hungry. If I had the authority, I would have buried your father before you came.

“Then I asked the six children, two of them are pastors, the sin their father committed.

“They said they did not forgive their father for marrying another woman shortly after their mother died 27 years ago.”

Fr Akinyode said he was baffled and pointedly told them that even as pastors the two of them found it hard to forgive their father.

“Any honour given to the dead is to ourselves. What we have done today, let it not end here. I appeal to all of us to take care of our aged ones,” said the parish priest.

He said Israel prayed for his children and grandchildren; hence, he told the old men and women not to curse anyone in anger because “whoever you curse is cursed.”

Fr Adebisi saw the event as the celebration of our heroes because “we honour God in the lives of our parents. Our celebration today is a testimony. They deserve the best.”

At the reception, Fr Akinyode said that he was happy “we are building a family where every member of the Church is cared for. Even though Lagere is a very big parish but we want to say that every member of this church is cared for.”

He appreciated his associate again and the deacon and every parishioner. According to him, “we are shifting our attention from building physical structures to building human beings.”

Fr Akinyode said that many students had been granted scholarship and many youths had been empowered. “Any money realised here today or your family presented to us is about building human formation.

Forty-six elders were later given awards.

-Adedoyin Adekoya

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