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Living the faith in the family of God on Mission in Catholic Diocese of Nnewi,
“So that Christ may live in your heart through faith”(Eph. 3:17)
First Diocesan Synod, 3-10 April, 2005
Copyright C 2006 By KathCom Publishers, Nnewi Nnewi 2006 Catholic Communications Publishing Division
ACTA: TABLE OF CONTENTS ACTA: TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Foreword .............................................................................. Decree for the opening of the synod ..................................... Inauguration 9 August 2005 .................................................. Decree of Promulgation 8 April 2004 ................................... Initial Questionnaire ..............................................................
4-5 6 7-9 9 - 15 16 - 17 A diocesan synod is a significant event in the life of a local Church. This has been so since the beginning of synods, going far back to the fifth century, but the 1983 Code of Canon Law has given a more sharpened focus to the phenomenon. It made a shift of emphasis from an affair of priests to include other members of the faithful, and also played up the potential of the diocesan synod to function as a consultative forum in aid of legislation. Seen in the context of expanded legislative scope given to particular churches in the Code as in the Documents of Vatican II which informed it, the diocesan synod really becomes a veritable assistance to the Diocesan Bishop in evolving and putting in place legislation that would make the local church more responsive to the demands of evangelization and the faith in the particular circumstances of time and place. The Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, tapping into this understanding, as much as into the particularly African image of the family, embarked on the synod project within two years of its existence, and actually celebrated this momentous ecclesial event in its third year. The aim was undoubtedly to provide a firm footing to the course of the young diocese through the wide and statutory consultation which a synod could engender and yield. It consequently studied and deliberated on the entire gamut of the theme and sub-themes of evangelization in all its ramifications, guided by the vision of the diocese as the Family of God on Mission striving to make Christ live in the hearts of men and women through faith. The whole of the synod process is what is provided in the Acta Synodalia, the Acts, which literally is a chronicle of what was done, beginning from its first announcement, through the creation of the bodies to prepare and facilitate the assembly, the publications, the documentation and study guides, the convocation, the celebration and the decree to end the synod. It is therefore a 4
Synod Opening Mass: I. Declaration of the Synod .......................................... 18 - 30 ii. Homily at the Opening Celebration .......................... 31 - 38 7. Synod Celebration: .................................................... 39 I. Report from the Secretary General ............................ 39 - 44 ii. Relatio Ante Disceptationem ...................................... 45 - 55 iii. Lectures: Eighteenth Lectures .................................. 56 - 270 iv. Reports: Diocesan Committees/Bodies .............. 271 -332 Diocesan Statutory Organizations ....... 333 - 345 v. Relatio Post Disceptationem ........................................346 - 356
Homily at the closing ceremony ............................................. 357 - 364 Appendices Synod Organizing Committee ............................... 365 - 366 Synod Delegates .................................................... 366 - 371 Workshop Resource Persons .................................. 371 - 379 Decree for the conclusion of the synod .................. 380
record, perhaps more than a record, a lived and living experience to continually energize and vitalize the people of God in the diocese in succeeding years. Apart from mirroring the moving moments of collective memory to those who took part in one aspect or the other of the synod, it also presents to the others who may not have had the same privilege a vivid and as far as possible complete picture of the epochal undertaking. In that way, the fruits of the exercise will be available and useful to everyone in every age. On another level, the synod Acts do not in any way anticipate or preempt the legislative act which belongs to the diocesan Bishop to promulgate. Rather it serves as a background framework in the context of which the legislation will be received and appreciated. It is a reference and companion document. In this sense also, the publication of the Acts mark in a way the conclusive work and closure of the assembly. For all those who desire to be informed and to benefit from the enriching experience that was the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, the Acts is hereby offered. Happy and fruitful reading! Anichebe Patrick Ezeobata (Very Rev. Fr.) Vicar General & Chairman, Synod Central Committee 25 March, 2006 Solemnity of the Annunciation
DECREE FOR THE OPENING OF THE SYNOD
IN NAME OF GOD AWARE of the need to celebrate the Diocesan Synod in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi; AFTER due consultations and necessary preparations; WITH my authority as the Diocesan Bishop of Nnewi and in accordance with the prescriptions of Canon Law, I DECREE as follows: The first Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi be commenced on 3 day of April 2005 with the Eucharistic Celebration at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi; The formal Opening Session be done at St. Michael's Hall, EzioraOzubulu on Monday, 4th April at 9.00 a.m. All things be done as planned and published in the programme by the Synod Preparatory Committee The Synod Preparatory Committee be henceforth the Synod Committee. All things to the contrary notwithstanding Given at the Diocesan Secretariat, Nnewi this 3 day of April 2005.
Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke Bishop of Nnewi Very Rev. Fr. Alphonsus N. Okonkwo Chancellor 5 6
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI BISHOP'S HOUSE P.M.B. 5099, NNEWI
July 11, 2003 BH/40/V.I./01. Dear Msgr, Fathers, my dear brothers and sisters, members of the Family of God!
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE FOR THE FIRST DIOCESAN SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI.
Greeetings in the name of the Lord! Following the desire to convoke the first diocesan Synod for the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. And having consulted the Presbyteral Council and the Pastoral Council, I hereby set up the Central Committee for the Synod with following terms of reference: 1. To determine the timing of the synod; 2. To study the needs, problems and prospects of the diocese with a view to determining the theme and major matters for the synod; 3. To work out the modalities for the preparation of the synod; 4. To arrange for studies, seminars and workshops on the theme of the synod and create adequate awareness of the coming ecclesial event; 5. To prepare the the Lineamenta for the synod and after sufficient study and discussion, to prepare the Instrumentum Laboris; 1 6. To set up working committees for the preparation of the synod, co-opting others when necessary; 7. To do everything necessary for the successful celebration of the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. 7
The members of the Central Committee of the Synod are: Chairman: Very Rev. Fr. Anichebe P. Ezeobata Vice Chairman: Mr. Bertrand N. Ezeani Secretary: Rev. Fr. Jude Ezike Asst. Secretary: Mrs. Josephine Nwangwu Members: Fr. Ignatius Obinwa Fr. Edumund Nwagbala Fr. Titus Nwabugwu Fr. Jude Arinze Fr. Alphonsus Okonkwo Fr. Evaristus Igwe Fr. Leo Okeke CSSp Fr. Christopherj C. Okoye Fr. Pius Ilechukwu Fr. Solomon Ugochukwu Bro. Charles Okeke, BSS Sr. Endalene Mozie, IHM Sr. Loretto Okoli DDL Sr. Benedict Egbulem DDL Sr. Kate Nweke DMMM Sr. Agnes Therese Aguoma MC Sr. Juluie Agbakoba MC Barr. Godwin Oguejiofor St. John Cross Parish Nnewi Mr. Charles Okonkwo St. Cletus Parish Nnewi Dr. Amobi Ilika St. Joseph's Parish Egbema Ichie Sylvester Anyigbo St. Marin's Parish Ihiala Mr. Pius Nwabuikwu St. Gregory's Parish Ihiala Mr. Francis Ugorji Assumption cathedral Nnewi Mr. Godwin Chuma Obi Assumption Cathedral Nnewi Mr. Francis Obi St. Anthony's Parish Okija Mr. Cajethan S. Onyilimba Osumenyi Padua Mrs. Ifeoma Egwudo akamili Nnewi Mrs. May Mbaso Ozubulu Ms. May Anadu St. Peter Claver's Otolo Magistrate (Mrs.) Ezeani Amichi Mrs. May Akudinobi St. Peter Claver's Ukpor Miss Ngozi Anadu St. Michael's Parish Nnewi Miss May Mgbemena, St. Micheal's Parish Eziora Ozubulu. 8
I will inaugurate the Committee on Saturday 9th August 2003 at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral Hall at 10.00 am. I will request the presence of all the members. I thank you for your generosity and willingness to serve God and the Church. Please make the necessary sacrifice to be present. May God bless you! Devotedly Yours in Christ, +Hilary Paul Odili Okeke Bishop of Nnewi.
Congregation evangelized the southeastern Nigeria. Today, we are happy to be the heir of the Kingdom proclaimed by Christ and carried on by the Apostles and missionaries in unbroken succession and fidelity to Peter and Apostles of the Lamb (see Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14). In our days, we need to hear anew the words of St. Peter and St. Paul, the great Apostles of our faith. Having received the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the words of the Holy Scriptures apply to us: “But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were a non-people and now you are the people of God, once you were outside his pity; now you have received pity” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). St. Paul in his turn declares: “So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow citizens with the holy people of God and part of God's household. You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22). While being ever grateful to God and to His Holiness Pope John Paul II for our Diocese, erected on 10th February 2002, we need to plumb the depth of the mystery of the Church in order to be indeed God's own people and members of the Family of God. That is principally the reason for the diocesan synod, which I intend to convoke. As the major “assembly of selected priests and other members of Christ's faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan community, assists the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the following norms” (Can 460), the synod will be an event of God's favour and a favourably time for the Church in our land. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the synod will provide for us the opportunity to appropriate the grace of our Christian vocation in a new and effective way. It will give us the needed impetus to proclaim and live our Catholic faith with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Exercising the ministry entrusted to me by the Lord Jesus Christ and in communion with the whole Church, with and under the Successor of Peter the Apostle, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and having consulted the council of priests of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, I give the following norms for the preparation and celebration of the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. 1. Convocation: The first diocesan synod for the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi shall be celebrated from Sunday, 3rd April 2005 to Sunday 10th April 2005. 10
ANNOUNCING THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI The Catholic Church is a mystery. It is the mystery of divine life which human beings are called to share in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Sent by the Father, Jesus Christ lived among us and gathered to himself men and women whom he had chosen. Form these, he chose twelve apostles who would be with him. He taught the people the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. He went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead, curing the blind, the lame and the deaf and dumb. Indeed, he declared the year of God's favour for the people. In the fullness of time and according to the Father's holy design, he suffered and was crucified on the cross. Lifted up on the cross he gathered the whole of humanity to himself. He died but on the third day, he rose again from the dead, opening the way to everlasting life for all who would believe in him. Before ascending to he right hand of his Father Almighty, he gave the Apostles the mandate: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. Look, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time” (Mt. 28:19-20). When he ascended to his Father, he sent the Holy Spirit as the first fruit for those who believe in him. The Holy Spirit, the power from on high, descended on the tiny group of apostles and disciples, who with Mary the Mother of Jesus, were in prayers (see Acts 1:14). With the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, the assembly became the Church and set out to preach to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem through Samaria to the ends of the world (see Acts 1:8). This mission going through places and ages reached our land through the missionaries under the action of the Holy Spirit. Providentially, the missionaries of the Holy Ghost 9
Venues The Opening and Closing Sessions will be at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi on Sunday, 3rd April 2005 and Sunday, 10th April 2005 respectively.
I will nominate special members, especially from the indigenes of Nnewi Diocese in other parts of Nigeria and beyond (see Can. 463 &2). We shall invite ministers and members of other Churches or ecclesial communities as observers for the opening and closing sessions. 5. Process I have established the Central Preparatory Committee for the synod, which in turn has set up various Commissions and Sub-Committees for the preparatory work of the synod. I expect the Committee to release the preparatory document (Lineamenta) to be studied by all the members of Christ's faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi according to the programme to be determined by the Committee. The Fruits of the study will be gathered into the Working Document for the Synod (Instrumentum Laboris), which will be available at least three months before the starting of the Synod. Procedure The Central Preparatory Committee shall publish the procedure, which shall be submitted to the Pastoral Council in October 2004. The procedure shall be binding on all participants in the Synod when promulgated by me. Call for Support The synod needs a lot of work for its preparation and celebration. I request the co-operation and collaboration of all for its success. In a special way, I request all those who have to carry out any assignment to do it in time and with diligence. I solicit financial and other material assistance from parishes, organizations, companies, and individuals. As you know, we do not levy anybody in our diocese. We depend on your generosity. You will not fail us. All donations for the synod shall be sent to the Catholic Dicesan Secretariat, Nnewi. Cheques and bank drafts shall be issued in favour of: CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI (DIOCESAN SYNOD). I thank you already for your generous support and for your prayers for this great undertaking. Prayer for the Synod. As prayer is the source of the success and fruitfulness of every Christian endeavour, I have approved the following prayer to be said by all members of the Catholic faithful of Nnewi Diocese individually and in groups, especially after Holy Communion at every Eucharistic Celebration. 12
The working sessions will be at St. Michael's Parish Eziora-Ozubulu from Monday, 4th April to Saturday, 9th April 2005. The choice of St. Michael's Parish, Eziora-Ozubulu is dictated by our desire to be faithful to the history of the Catholic Church in our area. Fr. Victor Duhaze visited Ozubulu in 1904 and in 1907 chose Ozubulu “which already had a school standing on a strategic position and was within walking distance from Isingwu, Iboro, Ukpor and other towns like Nnewi and Okija. As Father Jordan put it, the missionaries were pleased with the customs and traditions of Ozubulu, which were amenable to foreign influence and change, unlike the customs of the riverine peoples. Thus it was chosen as the site for the Father's residence in 1907 and then on September 29, 1908 on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, Ozubulu Parish was formally and solemnly opened” (Fr. Celestine A. Obi, “The Missionary Contributions of Bishop Joseph Shanahan, C.S.Sp 1902-1932”, in: Nwosu V.A. A Hundred Years of the Catholic Church in Eastern Nigeria 1885-1985, (Aricana FEP Publishers Limited, Onitsha 1985), pp. 129-130. It is true that the missionaries later relocated to Ihiala in June 1927. We are going back to our roots at St. Michael's Parish Eziora-Ozbulu to take up the faith of our Fathers. 3. The Theme Living the Faith in the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi: “so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17) Participants: The following are to be summoned to the diocesan synod as members and they are obliged to participate in it: i. The Vicar General, the Episcopal Vicars and the Judical Vicar ii. The members of the Presbyteral Council iii. All the members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council iv. The Rector of Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, as a priest of the Diocese. v. The Rector of St. Paul's Minor Seminary, Ukpor vi. All the Deans (Vicars forane) vii. A priest elected by each Deanery viii. Major Superiors of all the institutes of Consecrated life and societies of apostolic life with houses in the Diocese (see Can. 463, & 2) 11
PRAYER FOR THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI Almighty and ever living God, at the dawn of creation, your Spirit hovered over the waters, and your eternal Word brought light and order into being. In the fullness of time, your Word became a human being in Jesus Christ and dwelt among us. He suffered, was crucified and died, and rose again from the dead to purchase eternal life and salvation for humanity and the fallen world. He established the Church on Peter and the other Apostles as a universal sacrament of salvation. He gave them the ministry of spreading the Good news to all nations. We thank you for the Church, which is your Family on earth. We thank you for the missionaries who brought the Good News to us. Their sacrifices have brought numerous men and women born again with water and Holy Spirit into your Family in our area, which is now the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. We praise and thank you for the gift of our diocese and of our Bishop, Hilary. Aware of our weakness, we commit into your all-powerful hands, our diocese, our Bishop, the clergy, consecrated men and women and the lay faithful as we set out to celebrate the first synod of our diocese. The celebration is clearly a moment of grace for us. Through this synod, we yearn for Jesus Christ, your Son to take hold of our diocese in an all-embracing way. May he enlighten our culture with the light of his Gospel. May the values of his kingdom form our society into God-fearing, just, peaceful and loving communities. May he through his Spirit recreate each and every one of us in his glorious image. Heavenly Father, we bring before you all those who are engaged in the work of this synod. May your Spirit guide and sustain those preparing for the synod. Bless those who support their work with their prayers, sacrifices and donations. Prepare the hearts and minds of those who will participate in the synod sessions so that they may fully contribute their talents, gifts, and endowments to the work of the synod. May they be your effective means of bringing this momentous endeavour to a successful and fruitful completion. We invoke the fellowship and heavenly intercessions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, the Apostles and Saints and of Blessed Iwene Tansi. May their glorious companionship and prayers make the coming synod a celebration of faith that will bring about a rebirth of the faith of our Fathers in our Church, to your greater glory and for our eternal salvation. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. O Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us. 13
EKPERE MAKA SINODU IZIZI NKE DOYOSISI NDI KATOLIKI NKE NNEWI Chukwu ji ike nile, Chukwu di ebighi-ebi, na mmalite okike nke uwa, Muo Gi di Nso na-erughari n' elu mmiri; Okwu Gi di uwatuwa were si n'ime ochichiri na ogba aghara weputa ihe na nhazi. Na mmezu oge, Okwu Gi ahu, bu Nwa Gi I huru n'anya buuru mmadu, ya by Jesu Kristi, onye binyere anyi. O tara ahuhu, akpogbuo ya n'obe, O nwua, were si n'onwu bilite iji wetara nnadu dum, na uwa dara ada, nzoputa na ndu ebighi-ebi. O wubere Nzuko ya na ntoala Pita na Ndiozi ndi ozo. O nyere ha iwu ka ha gbasaa Ozioma ya nye mba nile. Anyi na-ekele Gi maka Nzuko Nso Katoliki bu Ezinulo nke Gi n'elu uwa nke a. Anyi na-ekelekwa Gi maka ndi wetaara anyi Ozioma. Mbo ha gbara na ahuhu ha tara mere ka enwee otutu ndi nke Gi amuru site na mmiri na Muo Nso n'ime Ezinulo Gi n'akuku uwa anyi nke a, buzi Dayosisi ndi Katoliki nke Nnewi. Anyi na-eto Gi na-ekelekwa Gi maka onyinye nke Dayosisi anyi ya na maka Bishopu anyi bu Hilari. Anyi maara adighi ike anyi. N'ihi ya, anyi na-ahanye n'aka Gi di ike, Dayosisi anyi, Bishopu anyi, ndi UkoChukwu na ndi echichi di iche iche, ya na anyi nile bu ndi Ezinulo Gi, n'oge nke a anyi na-akwado ime sinodu nke izizi na Dayosisi anyi. Emume sinodu a buuru anyi oge amara oma puru iche. Sitena ya, anyi na enwe nnukwu aguu, ka Kristi Nwa Gi, were onodu zuru oke na Dayosisi anyi. Ka ihe nke Ozioma ya chawaputa nke oma na omenala anyi. Ka ezi uzo nke alaeze ya mee obodo anyi ka obulu ebe eji ituru Chukwu egwu, ime ezi omume, icho udo na ihunaya ebi ndu. Ka O site na Muo Nso ya gbanwoo anyi na onyinyo ya di otitio. Nna bi n'igwe, anyi na-edute n'ihu Gi, ndi nile nwere oru na sinodu anyi. Ka Muo Nso Gi na-edu ma na-agbazikwara ndi na-akwado ya. Gozienu ndi na akwado oru ndi a site n'ekpere, ahuhu ha na onyinye di iche iche. Kwado obi na mmuo nke ndi ga-esonye na mmemme sinodu, ka ha tinye onyinye amara oma niile ha nwere n'oru sinodu nke a. Mee ka ha buru ihe ngwa oru di ire n'aka Gi maka iweta oru sinodu anyi n'isi njedebe, n'uzo o ag-esi ga n'ihu, mita kwa mkpuru oma. Anyi na-agbakwuzi Nne anyi di Aso bu Maria, Nne nke Jesu, na Nne nke Nzuko Nso, na ndi Apostulu, na ndi Nso niile, ya na Onye di Ngozi Iwene Tansi. Ka sitena mmeko anyi na ha, na siten ariro ha, ka sinodu anyi nke a buru nnukwu emume nke okwukwe. Site na ya ka enwe mmunwe nke okwkwe nke ndi Nna Nna anyi ha n'okwukwe nke Nzuko Nso Katoliki, maka otito nke Gi bu Chukwu anyi na maka nzoputa ebebe anyi. Anyi na-ario ihe ndi a sitena Kristi Onyenweanyi. Amen. Maria di Aso, Ezenwanyi e bugoro n'eluigwe, riobara aririo! 14
Conclusion and commendation I commend our every endeavour and activity into the hands of Mary assumed into heaven and into the hands of all the Saints and Blessed Iwene Tansi, so that their prayers and heavenly assistance will see us through this synod for the greater glory of God, increase of faith and strengthening of our Christian witness in the Family of God of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. With St. Paul the Greatest Missionary I pray: This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every fatherhood, in heaven or on earth, takes its name. In the abundance of his glory may he, through his Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, with all God's holy people you will have the strength to grasp the breath and the length, the height and depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God. Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. Given this 8th day of April 2004, on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption, Nnewi.
Catholic Diocese of Nnewi Bishop's House P. M. B. 5099 Nnewi. 9/9/2003 The Parish Priests/All Priests All Religious Institutes in the Diocese Parish Councils Statutory Bodies: C. M. O., C.W.O., C. B. O., C. G. O., C. Y. O. N. Societies and Pious Associations Parish Level Knights; N. F. C. S., C. D. A., Catholic Nurses Guild, The Catechists' Association Very Significant Others c/o the Parish Priest Nnewi Diocesan Communities in Diaspora (Aba) & Any other Bodies Incorporated in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. Dear Msgri, Fathers, My dear brothers and sisters, members of the Family of God. PRELIMINARY QUESTIONNAIRE: NNEWI CATHOLIC DIOCESAN SYNOD. The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. H. O. Okeke has indicated the desirability and intention to hold the Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. He has therefore inaugurated the Synod Planning Committee for this purpose. Given that this diocese is new, and would need to lay a very solid foundation to build an enduring legacy of faith, morals and Christian practice, this first Synod is envisaged to assist the Diocese feel its pulse, to ascertain its needs, problems and prospects and to dialogue with its socio-cultural environment at all levels. WHAT IS THE DIOCESAN SYNOD? The diocesan Synod is an assembly of selected priests and other members of Christ faithful of a particular church, which for the good of the whole diocesan community assists the diocesan bishop in accordance with specified norms (c. 460).
Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke Bishop of Nnewi.
Very Rev. Fr. Alphonsus N. Okonkwo Chancellor
ASSIGNMENT The Diocesan Synod Committee is at the initial stages of the preparation for the Diocesan Synod and would therefore appreciate it if it could obtain imputes from every member, organization, society, institution etc. In the diocese regarding the needs, problems and prospects of the diocese. Could you please state, suggest or propose and briefly explain in not more than one page per item what you consider as the three most important problem/need areas of the church in the Diocese in your considered order of priority. Entries of your responses are expected to reach the Synod Steering Committee on or before November 30, 2003 through the office of the Vicar General, Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Diocesan Secretariat, P. M. B. 5099, Nnewi. Very Rev. Fr. Anichebe P. Ezeobata Chairman Rev. Fr. Jude Ezike Secretary
DECLARATION OF THE OPENING OF THE SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI: “THE JOURNEY SO FAR” By MOST REV. HILARY ODILI OKEKE ON 1ST DIOCESAN SYNOD 3RD-10TH APRIL, 2005.
1. In the Beginning
As we begin the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, my mind goes back to the beginnings of this diocese. On 28th November 2001, the then Archbishop of Onitsha, His Grace, Most Rev. Albert K. Obiefuna solemnly announced at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha the creation of Nnewi Diocese and my appointment as its first Bishop. It is to be noted that the official documents with which Nnewi Diocese was created and I was appointed its first diocesan Bishop were signed in the Vatican on 9th November 2001. Then began the journey of our diocese as a diocese. The canonical erection and my ordination and installation were done by His Excellency, Archbishop Osbaldo Padilla, the then Nuncio in Nigeria on 10th February 2002. The events attracted quite a large concourse of people from all walks of life and from all parts of Nigeria and beyond. 2. Our Vision and Mission
Our vision for the diocese is one that is really the Family of God manifested clearly the best characteristics of the African family and at the same time modeled on the Trinitarian Family and the Holy Family. This vision encapsulates the theological as well as the socio-cultural dimensions of the Family of God in the African context. The “care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust” which are characteristics of the African family have to go hand in hand with the love, holiness, perfect integration, cooperation, understanding and harmony of the Blessed Trinity and the Holy Family. Our mission, therefore, is to “build up the portion of the people of God entrusted to me into a community of faith and love” by forming the people into the Family of God which actualizes the potentials of the Igbo family relationships and evangelical values of the family whose archetype is the Blessed Trinity and whose earthly model is the Holy Family. 17 18
Small efforts, Big Results
The primary task before us was the forming of the portion of the people of God entrusted to my pastoral care into a family, the Family of God. With the help of an enthusiastic clergy, available consecrated men and women and committed lay members of Christ's faithful, we set out on that journey. I must say that our disengagement from Onitsha Archdiocese was generally cordial and fraternal. We therefore set out on the goodwill of our parent-Archdiocese and the good disposition of all and sundry in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. Our little effort met with great result. 4. United Presbyterium
The presbyterium was and is one and united. From 140 diocesan priests at the time of erection of the diocese, we have 157 diocesan priests and 19 priests of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life (generally called “religious Priests”). Besides those living and working in the diocese, our priests are in various parts of the world on mission and for studies: At Onitsha (7 with one on Sabbatical in Germany), Enugu (2), Nsukka (2), Awka (1), Port-Harcourt (4), Rome (4), USA (15), Germany (2), England (2), Belgium (4), Switzerland (3), The Czech Republic (1), Austria (1), France (1), Chad (2), Namibia (2), Canada (1). We thank God for all our priests. 5. Our Future Priests
Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Claretians (CMF), Missionary Society of St. Paul (MSP), Society of Divine Vocations. Vocationist Fathers (SDV) and Fathers and Brothers of Jesus the Savior (SFB) and Brothers of St. Stephen (BSS). We intend with the help of God to found a monastery for men at Akwaihedi to be called Monastery of the Mary, Mother of God. We rejoice in the Lord for the Benedictine monastery of Our Lady of Peace at Ozubulu. Besides the monastery for women, we have consecrated women from the following institutes of consecrated life: Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), Daughters of Divine Love (DDL), Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy (DMMM), Holy Family Sisters of the Needy (HFSN), Clarisian Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament (CM), Sisters of Jesus the Saviour (SJS) and two consecrated Virgins. We have two foundations of Public Associations that are intended to become institutes of consecrated life: Holy Family Fathers and Brothers of the Youth being founded by Rev. Fr. Denis Ononuju, C.S.Sp, and missionary Sisters of Divine Mercy being founded by Amaka Osegboh. 7. The lay Faithful, the Backbone of the Church
God is blessing us with many vocations to the priesthood. We have 130 major seminarians studying at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Pope John Paul II Major Seminary, Awka, Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary, Owerri and St. Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene. We have 24 candidates in St. Pius X Spiritual Year Seminary, Akwukwu. We are planning to build our own Spiritual Year Seminary at Eziora-Ozubulu as the fruit of the Synod. Our minor Seminary, St. Paul's Seminary, Ukpor has 405 minor seminarians. This year, the seminary has reached its full potential by having from JSS1 to SS3. The Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala for the Holy Ghost Congregation has 602 minor seminarians. 6. Consecrated Mend an Women of God
The organization of the lay faithfully into their various statutory organizations took off smoothly so that within a very short period, we have functioning and active Laity Council, Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), Catholic Boy's Organisation (CBO), Catholic Girls' Organisation (CGO), and the umbrella youth organisation (CYON). The organisation of the youth has continued to be problematic. We have continued to maintain the structure of CBO and CGO in order to give specific formation to males and females through their organizations while have CYON as the umbrella organisation. The integration and collaboration of members of these two organizations under the auspices of the Catholic Youth have been attempted by the formation of Team Chaplaincy for CYON. The proper functioning of this Team, made up of a Coordinating Chaplain and Associate Chaplains (Chaplains of other youth organizations) will make youth apostolate better organized and better coordinated. We need to reflect more on this. The Ho9ly Childhood Association is also in place. We are happy with the progress made in the area of organization of the diocese. There are many lay apostolate groups, which are active in the diocese. These groups such as the various sodalities are a source of vitality of our diocese. 8. Administrative Structures
The consecrated men and women (Religious Brothers and Sisters) are one in and with the diocese. We have consecrated men from the following institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life in the Diocese: Holy Ghost Congregation (C.S.S.p), Congregation of the Mission Vincentian Fathers (CM), 19
For better administration and more effective pastoral care, we maintained the two Regions which we inherited from Onitsha Archdiocese and divided the two Regions into 10 deaneries in Nnewi Region: Uruagu Deanery, Otolo Deanery, 20
Ozubulu Deanery, Ukpor Deanery, Oraifite Deanery, Amichi Deanery, and Osumenyi Deanery; in Ihiala Deanery: Ihiala Deanery, Okija deanery and Orsumoghu Deanery. These deaneries are functioning smoothly. We started with 47 parishes and one Chaplaincy. We have now 56 parishes and Independent Station, a Chaplaincy and one Directorate: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. Akwaihedi: St. Mary's Parish Akwaihedi Amichi: Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Amihci Amichi: St James Parish, Amichi Azia : St. Andrew's Parish Azia Azigbo: St. David's Parish, Azigbo Ebenator: St. matthew's Parish, Ebenator Ekwulumili: St. Luke's Parish, Ekwulumili Ezinifite : St. Michael's Parish, Ezinifite Ichi : St. Patrick's Parish, Ichi Ihembosi: Mary the Queen Parish, Ihembosi Ihembosi: St. Anthony's Parish, Ihembosi Ihiala: St. Martin of Tours, Ihiala Ihiala: St. Gregory's Parish Ihial Ihiala: Christ the King Parish, Ihiala Ihiala St. Paul's Parish, Ihiala Ihiala: Directorate of Catechetics and Evangelisation Ihiala: St. Joseph's Parish, Ihiala Ihiala: Immaculate Heart Parish, Ihiala Ihialal: St. Christopher's Parish Ihiala Isseke: St. Joseph's Parish, Isseke Lilu: St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Lilu Mbosi: St. Patrick's Parish, Mbosi Nnewi: Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi Nnewi: St. John Cross Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Louis's Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Peter Calver's Parish Otolo, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Peter Claver's Parish, Nnewichi, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Charles Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Michael's Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Joseph's Parish Nnewi Nnewi: St. Cletus Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Felix Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. John Apostle and evangelist, Nnewi Nnewi: Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Martin de Porres Parish, Nnewi 21
36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59.
Nnewi: St. James Parish, Nnewi Nnewi: St. Monica's Parish Nnewi Nnewi: St. Luke's Chaplaincy, University Teaching Hospital and College of Health Sciences, Nnewi Ogwuaniocha: St. Paul's Indpendent Station, Ogwuaniocha Okija: St. Mary's Parish, Okija Okija: St. Anthony's Parish, Okija Okija: Sacred Heart Parish, Okija Oraifite: St. George's Parish, Oraifite Oraifite: St. Mary's Parish, Oraifite Oraifite: St. John's Parish, Oraifite Orsumoghu: Immaculate Conception Parish, Orsumoghu Orsumoghu: St. Theresa's Parish, Orsumoghu Osumenyi: Holy Spirit Parish, Osumenyi Osumenyi: St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Osumenyi Ozubulu: St. Michael's Parish, Amakwa Ozubulu: St. Michael's Parish Eziora-Ozubulu Ozubulu: St. Joseph's Parish Ozubulu Ozubulu: St. Kevin's Parish Nza-Ozubulu Ubuluisiuzor: St. John's Parish, Ubuluisiuzor Ukpor: St. Mary Mother of the Church's Parish Ukpor (Centre) Ukpor: St. Mary's Parish, Umuohama, Ukpor Ukpor: St. Peter Claver's Parish Ukpor Unubi: St. Patrick's Parish Unubi Utuh: St. Peter Claver's Parish, Utuh.
We hope to establish more parishes as he increase in the number of the Catholic faithful and their commitment to the work of the Church increase. We are happy that more and more communities are striving to become parishes in order to make the work of evangelization and pastoral care reach more and more people. 9. Family of God in Diaspora
our efforts at organizing the diocese into the Family of God have given impetus to the outreach programme. This programme is designed to bring indigenes of Nnewi Diocese in other parts of Nigeria and beyond into the Family of God of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. We have established Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Communities (NCDC) in Aba, Lagos, Paort-Harcout and Enugu. The one of Abuja will be established on 16/17 April 2005 while the one of London will be on 7/8 May 2005. The NCDC Kano will be inaugurated on 17/18 June while that of Onitsha will follow on a date to be announced. Eh establishment of these 22
communities has helped in no small measure to bring the indigenes of Nnewi Diocese in diaspora together to know and interact with one another and to help in he development of the Diocese. The various NCDCs have undertaken projects in the Diocese: NCDC Aba had contributed towards the building of the Bishop's House. NCDC Lagos is building the Diocesan Secretariat. NCDC Port-Harcourt is handling the construction of the Media House, which will house not only the Directorate of Social Communication but also Chukwunenye Community Bank. NCDC Enugu purchased the 100 KVA Electric Generator for the Diocese. We expect other communities to pick up the projects that are still to be undertaken. 10. My Mentors
order to shape the society according to the mind of Christ. The paper has done creditably well but I expect the editorial body to insist more on bringing out the Christian angle to angle to anything published in THE CHRISTIAN OUTLOOK. Page 6 of the Diocesan Paper carries my monthly teaching in “The Letter to the people of God”. The Letter addresses contemporary issues in the light of the faith in Christ. The Christian people will find in this monthly catechesis sure guidelines for authentic Christian living in a society that is a evil. Guided by the Apostle Paul, I have tried to insist that although our age is evil and corrupt, we Christians must redeem it by our lives of consistent witnessing to the truth of the Gospel-the will of God (see Eph. 5:16). ii. Annual Pastoral Letter
I have endeavoured to shape my Episcopal ministry n the examples of Good Shepherd and in imitation of he Great Apostle Peter and Paul. My living mentors are His Holiness, Pope John Paul II who is perhaps the greatest Shepherd of the Flock of God in these last millennia, His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, the former Archbishop of Onitsha, the saintly Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya and Most Rev. Albert K. Obiefuna, Archbishop emeritus of Onitsha. I know that I can hardly meet up with the standards of these eminent and illustrious Apostles of Jesus Christ but I have tried my best to follow their paths. I have endeavoured to form the clergy, seminarians, consecrated men and women and the lay faithful as people who are determined to live in this world with their heart ever directed to God. 11. Ministry of the Word.
We are the Family of God I have equally devoted time to teach in my annual pastoral letters. At my ordination and installation, I issued the Letter “We are the Family of God” (2002), a message in which I set out the plan of my Episcopal ministry and laid it s foundation. My major focus is on faith for the creation of a new community of people aspiring with all the fibres in their body and soul to holiness without which we cannot please. God. I need to call us back to the seminal ideas in that message; I went on to build on that foundation. We Walk by Faith. I published, “We Walk by Faith” (2002). In the Letter, I wrote the motivation for the pastoral letter; I wish to lay the solid foundation for our building up of our diocese into a Family of God, in which God is known, loved, served above all things and in all things, situations, circumstances and events. We Walk by Faith is therefore an invitation to reverse the mentality, scale of values, and preferences and embrace the Gospel values, which are based on and nurtured by faith (p.4). Faith in God is the foundation of all Christianity and Christian living. It is written: “Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who come to him must believe that he exists an rewards those who try to find him” (Heb. 11:6). I explored the implications of faith in god against the background of superstitions, fetishism and deviation to magic and similar ways of misleading people through signs and wonders. Walking by faith and not by sight is the challenge of the pastoral letter. 24
While we have done our best to sanctify the people by our Priestly-Episcopal ministry, our major focus has been on the doctrinal formation of the people. I have tried to heed the injunction of the Great Apostle Paul: “proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). I set myself to make the preaching of the Good News my life's work in thoroughgoing service in order to give the people sound doctrine at a time when many people are le astray with false teaching by teaches and pastors according to own tastes (see 2Tim. 4:3-5). i. Letter to the People of God In Pursuit of this singular mission, we established the Diocesan Newspaper THE CHRISTIAN OUTLOOK, as a medium of communication of worthwhile news, information and above all, the Good News. Or diocesan paper is charged with giving the Christian perspective to contemporary events and questions in 23
From Faith to Faith We moved from faith in God to faith in the community of faith, hope and love, the community of believers, the Church of the Living God. “From Faith to Faith” (2004) is a call to live out the implications of what we recite in the Creed: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church”. The link is strict: As the Father has sent me, so I send you. he who listens to you, listens to me and he who listens to me listens to the One who sent me. The Church built by Christ on Peter remains the “God's Family that is, in the Church of the living God, which upholds the truth and keeps it sage” (1 Tim. 3:15). The gates of hell in the forms of persecutions, false teachings, fake miracles can never hold out against it (see Mt. 16:18). Faith in the Church will bring about commitment to the Gospel and the service to the Church. The Mystery of Faith Moving on the path mapped out by religion creed, cult and conduct, I took up the worship of the people of God for reflection in “Let Us Celebrate the Mystery of Faith” (2005). Worship of God is the duty of every human being. We have to follow the words and examples of Christ to worship God in spirit and in truth. Our worship of God is not mere formality or empty rituals but a real communion with God and with other believers. Indeed, the sacred encounter in prayer, sacrifices, especially that of the Blesses Eucharist invites us to enter into deep interpersonal relationship with God and with one another. Our worship of one God has to be done in a manner which manifests and strengthen faith digne, attente et devote! (in a dignified devotion). I expect the whole diocese to focus their attention on the liturgy and proper attitude, decorum and fidelity to liturgical norms, which our faith demands. iii. Sunday Evening Instruction I have on various occasion since my ordination insisted on the need to address the systematic and consistent catechetical formation of adults and children. It has been observed that most adults live with the infantile perceptions of faith which they had when they went to catechism as children. This child's view cannot be adequate to handle the daily problems and issues of adult world. The homily on Sunday s is not adequate to fulfil the need for updating one's knowledge of the faith and of Christian doctrines. There is a felt need for a forum to handle the transmission of doctrines to adults who no longer have to attend catechism classes. The Sunday Evening Instruction is such forum. I have made it clear that every Catholic is to take part in the instruction to be conducted by the parish 25
priest assisted by other priests, consecrated men and women in the parish and the Catechists. The Director of Catechetics embarked on the programme of training instructors to assist priests but not to take over from them. In order to see that the instruction covers the various areas of doctrine and church life, a general scheme was prepared by the Directorate of Catechetics and evangelisation for use in all parishes. In order to remove all distractions, we banned all meetings and celebrations on Sunday that draw people away from Sunday Evening Instruction. What remains is the commitment of all Catholics in the Diocese to availing themselves of this wonderful opportunity for growth in knowledge and love of God. 12. Stewardship over God's Household
From the very first day in the diocese, I have tried to show that I am called to be a faithful steward over the household of God. About two weeks after my ordination, the whole money belonging to the new diocese was trapped in Savannah Bank, which was closed in a very unexpected way. I had the task of rallying the diocese to move ahead in complete confidence in the Provident God. As a new diocese, there is need for plenty of funds to execute projects of utmost importance and to maintain the general services such as training of seminarians and priests. Normally, we should make a lot of financial demands on the people. But the contrary is the case. Removal of Levies. We have moved forward in faith and have tried to regulate the financial burden on the people. We have ended the regime of levies and introduced free giving as a more authentic Christian way of supporting the Church. The obligation to support the Church with one's goods remains (see can. 221,1). In the place of the compulsory payment of the Annual Church Fund with the attendant bad blood following the manner of its collection, I introduced free giving on two Sundays in a year. People are encouraged to give generously and with cheerful disposition according their means and in keeping with their faith. Reduction and Rationalisation of Second Collection. We have also rationalized and reduced the number of second collections. It is true that we have never had more than enough but we are happy with whatever the people willingly and happily give and we assure the judicious use of whatever is 26
given. It must be emphasized that many people still see giving to the Church as burden; people who are ready to donate lavishly to other causes and give big donations to individuals are generally very reluctant to give for church work. Ours is the joyful service of the Lord with all our goods! 13. Projects
As a new diocese, we have a lot of projects to handle. The diocese had few physical infrastructures to start with. We thank God for what we had; St. Paul's Seminary, Ukpor, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Ihiala, Immaculate Heart Maternity Hospital, Nnewi, Fr. Damian Specialist hospital for Leprosy and Tuberculosis; Nnewi/Amichi and a gigantic and massive structure of Our Lady of Assumption Church which is our Cathedral. I had to make due with temporary residence in the tight quarters of the temporary rectory of Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi while continuing the work on the Bishop's House already begun by Catholic Women Central Council, Nnewi. Thanks to God the main house was completed and furnished and I move into the house in March 2004. Seminarian's and Domestic House has been completed. We thank God for the expansion of St. Paul's Seminary, Ukpor by Fr. Ben. Enemuo to take care of the upgrading of the seminary from JSS to full Secondary School. Similarly, we are grateful to Sr. Laurette Madu IHM for putting up the big and commodious block of school of Nursing, Ihiala. The Catholic Women Organisation on the diocesan level has embarked on the building of a mighty complex for conferences and accommodations. We need to encourage our women to complete the edifice soonest to provide us a place for meeting and conferences. We operate from our temporary secretariat, which is not enough for the major staff of the Diocesan Offices, which are located all over the place. With the assistance of Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Community, Lagos we are handling the construction of the permanent Secretariat building. A communication centre is going up thanks to the commitment of the Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Community, Port Harcourt. Projects which are waiting for take off are rehabilitation of Fr. Damian Specialist Hospital, the construction of Spiritual Year Seminary at Ozubulu, the construction of Pastoral Centre and the take off of the Monastery project at Akwaihedi. We invite individuals and communities to participate in these and other projects. 14. Areas of Concern
Education Our area was known for its commitment to education. We benefitted from the commitment of the missionaries to provide holistic and high standard of education at an affordable cost. The takeover of schools by the government reduced the interest of the people in education. The corruption, mismanagement and lack of focus led to the lowering of the standards of education and loss of interest in proper education of the young. The Church is coming back to the educational sector. While we insist on the return of schools forcibly taken away from us, we need to articulate very clearly our vision and mission in the educational sector. We cannot accept schools that are sub-standard in any way physical infrastructure, learning environment, facilities, staff and adequate standards of teaching and learning. The Education Board has to carry our registration and inspection of all Catholic Schools in the diocese. The schools are to be assessed on their structures and performance. We are to be leaders in the provision of high quality education. Harmonisation of Cultural Practices with Christian Principles. Christianity is in constant dialogue and confirmation with the traditional cultural ideas and practices. We have instances of healthy interactions. Ozo and other titles can be purified and taken by Catholics following the regulations given by the then Archbishop of Onitsha, now Francis Cardinal Arinze. However, there are persistent allegations of double dealing by Catholics who pretend to take the title according to the Church's regulation but carry out all eh removed fetish practices. Other aspects are still problematic: Ofo remains a source of problem in some communities. Mmanwu Ozoebunne continues to excite controversies. I have studied the question after a committee set up by me submitted its recommendation and fie knowledgeable clerics from the masquerade zones reviewed their recommendations. I hope to issue a document on the question. In all these and similar matters, the Catholic is challenged to put God first and to be with the Catholic Community as the search for a modus vivendi goes on. The unfortunate situation is that some Catholics insist from the beginning that they are right and the Church wrong. They ally themselves with non-Christians to fight the Church by fostering activities and practices that the Church is not comfortable with. In some cases, Catholics are in leadership position to persecute and victimize fellow Catholics who are loyal to the Church. We need to know who are with us and who are against us. Jesus made it clear that those who are not gathering with him are scattering what he gathered (see Mt. 12:30). 28
There are major areas of serous concern in our diocese. We need to handle these areas with determination. 27
Uka Ekpele and Olu Ezinuno Human problems are at the forefront of religion in our area. The “Pagan” mentality is to get rid of all problems no matter how they are got rid of. That is why polytheism was accepted. Pagan change their gods or add gods to their array of deities. They go from dibia to dibia until their problem is solved. And this mentality has infiltrated into the Church and is being sustained by some people who benefit from this mentality. These days, prayer and healing ministries are springing up, miracle centres and crusades are the order of he day. Powerful pastors, prayer warriors, sisters and brothers are no the increase and are prowling around for clients. Very few Catholics are concerned about the purity of faith. All they are interested in is immediate solution to their problems, even if that will take them to Ogwugwu or to a prophet or any spiritualist. They are not ready to listen to the Church! The craze for healing, olu ezinuno and the likes is the one of the greatest challenges to our faith as Catholics. We need to discern every spirit to see if it is the Holy Spirit. The warning of Jesus is still relevant: “For false Christ's and false prophets will arise and produce great signs and portents, enough to deceive even the chose, if that were possible. There; I have forewarned you: (Mt. 24:24). The Book of Revelation continues the warning: the beast which is the epitome of evil “worked great miracles, even calling down fire from heaven on earth while people watched. Through the miracles which it was allowed to do on behalf of the firs beast, it was able to wing over people of the world….” (Rev. 13:13-14). Not everything that glitters is gold. You must reflect on the outcome of your actions on your faith and adherence to the faith of the Catholic Church. He or she, who has ears to hear, let him or her hear! A word is enough for the wise! 15. Synod of Faith
undertake the mission of evangelisation more readily and more effectively in the areas of proclamation, inculturation, and dialogue with others, justice and peace which includes the family and political arena and social communication. We have to face the world with solid faith and burning desire to enthrone the reign of Christ in our lives and in our society. May Christ be in your hearts through faith! With these words, I declare the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi opened to the glory of God and well being of this family of God on Mission. Given at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi on Sunday, 3rd April 2004 at the opening of the first synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke. Bishop of Nnewi.
This first synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi is called to tackle the issues of faith, living and active faith, faith that bears fruit in good works and commitment to eternal values and salvation. The theme: “ Living the Faith in the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, 'so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:17) sets the tome for the synod. Our expectation is that the synod will provide the blueprint for faith living for all the Catholics in the Diocese of Nnewi. With this living faith, he Family of God can 29 30
HOMILY ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI, SUNDAY 3RD APRIL 2005.
Lord, Increase Our Faith
First Reading: Acts. 22: 42-47 Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 117:2-4,13-15, 22-24 (Res. V.1) Second Reading: 1 Pt. 1:3-9 Gospel: Jn. 20:19-31. 1. Introduction
Today in a special way is the Opening Day of the First Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. As members of the Family of God on mission, we have assembled to start the journey-together in the faith in the Risen Christ! Indeed, faith in the Risen Christ is the theme of our reflection and the key to the theme of our Synod: “LIVING THE FAITH IN THE FAMILY OF GOD ON MISSION IN THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI 'SO THAT CHRIST MAY LIVE IN OUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH' (EPH. 3: 17)”. Faced with the stark reality of our little faith, faith that is not even up to the size of a mustard seed, we cry to the Lord: “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5) 2. The Easter Faith.
Today's Sunday is loaded with celebrations: It is the Second Sunday of Easter and the end of the Easter Octave. We are still in the glow of Easter, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is risen! Alleluiah! Today the neophytes, the newly baptized conclude the mystagogical catechesis: Quasimodo infantes, they have been fed with milk. They are encouraged to persevere in the joy of the resurrection and new life until they receive the goal of our faith: the salvation of our soul! (1 Pt. 1:9) Salus animarum prima et suprema lex! It is Divine Mercy Sunday: “In his great mercy he (God) has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for you” (1 Pt. 1:3-4). “ What can God's mercy not accomplish for us and in us?” asks the Apostle of Divine Mercy in Nigeria, Most Rev. Martin Uzoukwu, our son and Bishop of Minna. Today is also the Day for the Youth. We had the celebration yesterday but will do the collection for the youth apostolate today. Our diocese is young and shares in the enthusiasm of the youth. May we have a special place for the youth in our hearts and in our ministry and apostolate. We invite the youth to share with us the burning desire to renew our faith in Christ the Eternal Youth and the Model for all young people. In other dioceses in Nigeria, today is also the Mother's Day. In our diocese, we have moved the celebration to 24th April because of the great event-taking place in our diocese beginning from today. We salute the Catholic women all over Nigeria. 31
Our Easter faith is summed up in the proclamation of the mystery of faith: “Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again”. He who died has risen again! The new order of creation and redemption stands or falls on the issue of our faith in the Risen Christ. St. Paul clearly states the position. “ If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15: 14, 17-19). It means that the faith in the resurrected Christ is critical for the outcome of our own life. It is critical for our eternal salvation; “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rm. 10:8-9) It is critical for pleasing God, for “without faith it is impossible to please God,” (Hb. 11:6) Christ is at the Heart of our Easter Faith. The Risen Lord is the prime object of faith. He appeared to the Apostles after his resurrection and after giving them the familiar greetings of peace, sent them on a mission: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21). He empowered them with the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins (Jn. 20 22-23). Thomas the Twin (Didymus) was not there and would not believe that the Lord had risen. Jesus came to extract the faith of Thomas and he succeeded in getting him to believe: “My Lord and My God!” (Jn. 20:28). But Jesus countered: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29). Jesus thus underlined the fact that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hb. 11:1) 32
We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight. That is why St. Paul is insistent: “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor.5:7). For that reason, the believer has to go through every sort of trial “so that his or her faith “ of greater worth than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now; you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…” (Pt. 1:7-9). Faith is therefore the secret source of the confident joy of the Christian as he or she faces the stark realities of this world. The Christian rejoices in his or her hope in Christ who died and rose again, confident that he who raised Christ from the dead will raise our mortal bodies. 3. Easter Faith Creates an Easter Community.
Can the Son of Man find Faith in Our Society Today? (See Luke 18:8)
We are living in a most interesting time and in a most exciting place in the journey of the People of God, the Family of God. It is equally a most trying time for all true believers in Jesus Christ. We find ourselves at the crossroad s of belief and unbelief. “Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). It is a deceptive situation, a situation characterized by certain paradoxes: · Religiosity with little religion; Filled churches and mosques, numerous ministries, endless crusades, vigils and fellowships, pilgrimages and the like make our country the most religious country in the world and we export religion as we export crude oil but we are one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Oppression and lawlessness abound. Crimes of all sorts, wickedness of unrivaled proportion, rank indecency in public and private life convinces us that our hearts and our society stand in need of evangelization. Are there not many religious people, “good” Christians, even “born-again” who are engaged in “dirty politics” of lies, intrigues, deceits, and double-dealing? What of the bribe-takers and bribe-givers? What of the manufactures of and dealers in fake products, especially drugs? What of the drug-peddlers?
The believers in the Risen Christ were distinguished by their characteristic style of life that radiated their faith in Christ. Indeed, their faith in Christ formed them into a community of the saved, a community noted for its distinctive way of living. “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Ac. 2:42). The early Christian community lived an intense life of faith, which was manifested in the communion of faith, worship and service. The believers devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles. They were bound together in their beliefs about the Risen and Victorious Christ who had died but is risen to the sense of the brotherhood-sisterhood (fraternal life) which led them to share their goods: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need” (Ac. 2:44). In deed, “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” (Ac. 4:32). Unity of the Community in Worship The same unity of faith led them to common worship in prayers and the breaking of bread. As it is said: “Lex credendi est lex orandi” (The rule of faith is the rule of praying). “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people” (Ac. 2:46-47). The result was joy in the community of believers and missionary effectiveness: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Ac. 4:33). Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles in the name of the crucified but risen Lord (see Mk.16: 20; Ac. 2:43). The preaching and witnessing bore abundant fruit: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved: (Ac. 2: 47). 33
· Flourishing Church with little Faith. Our Church is flourishing: thousands of worshippers in our churches, booming vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, overcrowded seminaries, novitiates and other religious houses, many churches, parishes, religious organizations and societies. We thank God for these external indices of the success of the Church. But how many Catholics are truly committed to the teaching of the apostles, to the breaking of bread, to fellowship and prayers in all situations and circumstances? How many Catholics troop after any wonder-worker, any mighty “men or women” of God, any crusader, often ignoring the instructions of their parish priests? How many are ready to stick with the Church in the face of conflict between the Church and traditional or civil society over matters of faith, morals or conduct? · Christians in name but “pagans” in their hearts; Almost everybody is a Christian but many so-called Christians engage in the worship of idols, occultism, magic, divination, recourse to charms, and other dark powers still thrive. Obstinate attachments to practices that are rooted in African Traditional Religion give lie to the profession of Christianity. In times of difficulties and problems, the “Christians” have recourse to “ powerful”, 34
shrines, soothsayers and “medicine-men and women”. The persistence of “pagan” mentality and attitudes is evident in the lives of many “Christians”. · Christianity with less of the Crucified Christ; The lure of power, success, money, prosperity and material well-being displace the Christ preached by St. Paul who was sent to “preach the gospel-not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). He declared: “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:21). Christianity made easy, prosperity preaching, quest for signs and wonders, preaching the gospel for money, status and power have combined to create the present confusion among Christians. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief's” (1 Tm. 6:10). False teachers have led others, even the elect, astray and prophets displaying signs and wonders (see Mt. 24:24). · Divided and fragmented Christianity: followers of one Lord but enemies to one another. The disunity among believers in Christ is the greatest scandal of our time. It becomes even more scandalous when Christian leaders canonize division and further divisions contrary to the will of Christ “that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me… ” (Jn. 17:22-23). Pride, greed, love of power and status continue to breed disunity. Bu St. Paul continues to challenge the conscience of every believer in Christ: “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13) These and other negative factors challenge us to pray: “ Lord increase our faith!” our society is in dire need of evangelization and re-evangelization so that Christ will take full possession of our people and the light of his gospel will shine on our cultures and the values of his kingdom will transform our society into Godfearing, just, upright, peace-loving communities. 5. The Synod of Faith
· Review the evangelization of our area and see how the missionaries and early coverts had planted the seed of faith with devotion, watered it with commitment and had been blessed by a strong flourishing Church which they have bequeathed to us; Their sufferings, toils, death had left us a great Church which had sprouted over their graves. Which direction are we taking to ensure that we retain the faith of our Fathers in faith in the Catholic Church? · Examine critically the opportunities, means, methods, objectives, personnel and resources for evangelization, which is an urgent task for the Church in our area. In the face of the advancing “neo-paganism” and the resurrection of dead and outmoded cultural religious practices by baptized people, how will the Church handle the delicate issues of inculturation and dialogue with African Traditional Religions in order to protect and foster genuine faith in God? · Visit the question of relationship with other Christians in the genuine search for unity of all believers not just accommodation of divisions and divisiveness; Ecumenism must be seen as an imperative and the commitment of believers to this important demand of the gospel must be unflinching. How do we respond to the increasing fragmentation of Christian religious groups, decreasing sense of loyalty and high mobility among Christian? · Bring every aspect of life, social, economic, political, religious under serious consideration in the light of the gospel and chart the course for authentic Christian living in the light of faith; Our faith in Christ must influence every attitude, action, and institution such as, marriage and the family, politics, education, economic activities, trade and professions so that Christ may be all in all in our individual and collective lives. Our expectations are that the synod will lead to rebirth of faith in our area, the faith of our fathers who bore witness to the power of the gospel to transform men and women into new creatures, who were ready to suffer for the faith. “ In this greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1Pt. 1:6) Our Church must be a Church of Martyrs! The synod will produce men and women of faith, men and women who will be witnesses. “And you too will be my witnesses” (Jn. 15:27). Christian faith demands witnessing in a life that is completely coherent with the Gospel even 36
It is against this social, cultural and religious backdrop that we are embarking on this synod. The synod is a journey together, and assembly of members of Christ's faithful that assist the diocesan Bishop in the governance of the diocese (see can. 460). Following from the theme of the synod, this synod has specific tasks: 35
unto death! (sanguis Christianorum semen) the blood of Christians is the seed; the seed of fruitfulness of the Church, the strength of the Church. Witnessing is fundamentally martyrdom in its various forms. The man or woman who refused to join in oath-taking before an idol or before a non-Catholic pastor even when threatened with ostracism, the widow who chose to remain chaste in the face of advances from the relations of the husband and other men, the couple who sacrifices their personal comfort and desires to remain faithful to each other, the parents who give up their convenience and luxury to train their children in the way of the Lord, the policeman who refuses to use his position to intimidate others and extort money from them, the judge who rejects offers of bribe or other inducements to distort his judgment, the people who give out contracts without demanding for kickbacks, and the lady who passed up the offer of a job or promotion so as not to compromise her chastity; and the girl who is prepared to remain unmarried rather have premarital intercourse or marry a person who is not prepared to allow her live according to her Catholic faith and so on: these are witnesses and therefore martyrs. Our Church needs the commitment of martyrs! Our Church Follows the Path of the Eucharist As we are celebrating our synod in this year of the Eucharist, we have to follow the path mapped out by our Holy Father to make the Eucharist effectively the center of our lives and all our activities. The Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration and the daily Eucharistic Celebration will be the mainstay of our synod. Through the Eucharist we are assured of the presence and power of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we worship, adore and offer to the Heavenly Father. I invite you all to embrace the Eucharist with new zeal and devotion. It is a very important and indispensable mark of our Church. We have to be more devoted to the breaking of Bread in which and through which we recognize the risen Lord. My hope is that the synod will usher in a special Eucharistic spirituality marked with new fervor and new attachment to the Lord in the Blessed Eucharist. 6. Entrustment
who assures us of her maternal presence and companionship “cum Maria Matre Jesu” Like the apostles in the early Church, “With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Ac. 1:14). With this cloud of heavenly witnesses and helpers we are confident that our journey and our work are in safe hands. May their companionship and prayers help us to be devoted to the teaching of the apostles, to the breaking of bread, and to fellowship, and prayers! Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke Bishop of Nnewi 3rd April 2005
As we set out on this journey, we invoke the Holy Spirit, confident that he will accompany us by his light and grace so that at the end of this synod we can with all sincerity say of our decisions: “it has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond these essentials:” (Ac. 15:28). At the same time, we fly to the heavenly assistance of the Archangels, angels and saints and the Blessed. In the first place, we invoke our Mother Mary, 37 38
SYNOD CELEBRATION: CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI
Report on the making of the Synod, to the Synod Assembly From Synod Central Planning Committee, 4th April 2005, By The General Secretary, Rev. Fr Jude Ezike
NO. 1 INTRODUCTION: On 9th August 2003, His Lordship Most Rev. H. O. Okeke inaugurated the Central Planning Committee of the Synod with membership strength of 38 under the Chairmanship of the Vicar General of the Diocese Very Rev. Fr. Anichebe. P. Ezeobata, with Rev. Fr. Jude Ezike as Secretary. Other officers of the Committee included: Mr. Bertrand. N. Ezeani, Vice Chairman, Mrs. Josephine Nwagwu Assist. Secretary. The assigned terms of reference were as follows: 1. To determine the timing of the synod. 2. To study the needs, problems and prospects of the diocese with a view to determining the theme and major matters for the synod. 3. To work out the modalities for the preparation of the synod. 4. To arrange for the studies, seminars and workshops on the theme of the synod and create adequate awareness of the coming ecclesial event. 5. To prepare the Lineamenta for the synod and after sufficient study and discussion, to prepare the Instrumentum Laboris. 6. To set up working committees for the preparation of the synod, co-opting others when necessary. 7. To do everything necessary for the successful celebration of the first diocesan synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. Other major matters dealt with in the inauguration were the constitution of some sub-committees and the composition of the membership thereof; and the constitution of various commissions to work towards the synod. SUB-COMMITTEES i. Steering Sub-committee: ii. Publicity Sub-Committee: iii. Finance Sub-Committee: iv. Logistics Sub-Committee: v. Liturgy Sub-Committee: 39 Chairman Chairman Chairman Chairman Chairman Fr. A.P. Ezeobata Fr. Hyginus Aghaulor Fr. Pius N. Ilechukwu Bar. G.N. Ogujiofor Fr. Callistus Ibeh
vi. Protocol Sub-Committee: vii. Catering Sub-Committee:
Chairman Ezeani A.N. (ESQ) General Co-ordinator: Fr. John Ejike Chairman: Mrs J.N Nwangwu
COMMISSIONS: i. Theological Commission ii. History Commission iii. Liturgy Commission iv. Cultural Commission v. Pastoral Commission vi. Catechetics Commission vii. Mission/Evangelization Commission viii. Public Affairs Commission
HEADS Fr. Victor Ifeanyi Fr. Hilary Achunike Fr. Dom Aneto Fr. Alfred Edokobi Fr. Paul Onwughalu Fr. Christopher Ifenatuorah Rev. Sr. Lorreto Okoli Prof. Leo Muoghalu/Dr. Obi Nwosu ix. Family Affairs Commission Fr. George Ezeukwo/Dr. Jude Mbaezue x. Women Affairs Commission B a r. M r s . T h e o d o r a Igwegbe xi. Ecumenical/Inter-Religious Dialogue Commission: Msgr. H. A. Adigwe xii. Justice and Peace Commission Dr. Ikenga Metuh Joseph xiii.Youth Commission R e v . F r . M i k e Ifeagwazi xiv Communications Commission Fr. Hyginus Aghaulor
NO.2 PROGRESS: The Central Planning Committee met for a total of 32 times; fifteen times in the steering committee and seventeen in the Central Planning Committee, from which all its actions, proposals and assignments emerged and were completed. THE PRE-LINEAMENTA STAGE: This stage spans from the inauguration of the Central Planning Committee to the production of the lineamenta. These are the highlights of some of the major actions taken within this stage: a. The enlargement of the Central Planning Committee (with Parish Synod representatives), and further empanelling of the sub committees and the Commissions. The Committee and sub-committees were to be implementation organs, while the Commissions were to be leaders of research and study moderators through the various stages of the synod preparation. 40
b. The outlining of the project design through the formation of the provisional timetable of phased activities towards the great event; emphasizing probable timing of the synod, programme for the production of the Lineamenta, operational proposals and funding. c. Synod Theme: With a view to determining the theme and other matters of the synod, the committee sent out fillers to the entire diocesan community on 19th September, 2003 by way of an awareness, in the form of an open ended questionnaire, seeking views and submissions regarding the considered need areas of the diocese. The returning date of this was 30th November 2003. From processing the returns, which was completed by, march 2004, the theme issues were formulated and other stages of study towards the production of the Lineamenta set. d. Announcing the synod: We recall that at the Chrism Mass of 8 April 2004, in the cathedral of Assumption, Nnewi, His Lordship, Most Rev H.O. Okeke our diocesan Bishop announced the synod with the following schemes:
I. The Lineamenta Stage: Thanks to the effort of our team of experts that headed the various Commissions, the document was prepared under the dutiful co-ordination of Very Rev. Fr. Ignatius Obinwa who collated the responses, from which the Lineamenta emerged. a. Presentation: His Lordship, most Rev. H.O.Okeke presented the Lineamenta in the Diocesan Pastoral council of 23 October 2004. The Lineamenta is a presentation of reflections on an outline of issues of study by the faithful for the work of the synod; it is a very important stage of synodal preparation. b. Study and Returns of Lineamenta: The usefulness and purpose of the lineamenta is that it be thoroughly studied by every member of Christ's faithful, that it elicits appropriate fruits in pertinent responses so as to enrich the sessions of the synod assembly and the out come therefrom. To achieve these, the Central Planning Committee published a programme of study and returns, urging every individual to study and respond to it, but assigning formal and official responses and reactions to organizations, societies and institutions in the diocese as well as Nnewi communities and other groups outside the diocese (For schedule of Assignment and Time table for study and Returns see attachment 1). The committee pursued effective supervision through the Parish Synod Delegates, Parish Priests and suggested parish seminars on the Lineamenta. The co-operation from the parishes was more here, less there. C. Update on the Committees and Subcommittees: At this stage all the subcommittees had become fully operational pursuing already formatted designs to realize the synod. The Central Planning Committee had received the approval of the Pastoral Council to wax a commemorative cloth for the synod and to produce other souvenirs. This was detailed to the competence of Fr. Hyginus Aghaulor and his team. The composition of Synod anthem had been referred to the Diocesan Music Commission. The Finance Subcommittee had embarked on a Raffle project in memory of the First Diocesan Synod; voluntary donations were, and are being solicited for from the public, and selective requests for funding assistance directed to some personages and institutions are being vigorously pursued. His 42
§ Theme: Living the faith in the Family of God on mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. “That Christ may live in your hearts through faith”, (Ephesians 3: 17). § Dates and Venues: Sunday 3 April 2005: Synod Opening Ceremonies, at our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi. Monday 4 Saturday 9 April 2005: Synod Working Sessions at Ozubulu, St. Michael's Parish, Eziora Ozubulu. Sunday 10 April 2005: Synod Closing Ceremonies, at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral. § Prayer for the Synod: His Lordship also promulgated the Prayer for the First Synod… in that same solemn occasion, and gave the directive that it should be prayed in every Mass throughout the Diocese. The prayer seeks to place our Diocese in context in the hands of Christ as it marches to its aspirations. 41
Lordship, our bishop had resolutely remained faithful to the diocesan policy of no levies and mandatory contributions being imposed on anyone towards the celebration of the synod. d. Appointment of Synod Participants: It is the prerogative of the diocesan bishop to invite participants to a diocesan synod. In view of that, the Central Planning Committee put forward a draft to assist His Lordship in gauging the parameters for his appointments and invitations (see for attachment 2)
What we now present is the realization of the mandate given to us by His Lordship, Most Rev. H.O Okeke at the inauguration of the Central Planning Committee in August 2003. We present you the first Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Synod; we present you its programme. Thanks. Rev. Fr. Jude Ezike (Secretary Central Planning Committee)
ii. Instrumentum Laboris Stage: This is the highpoint of the synod preparatory process. The collation of the Lineamenta returns was done in these fronts: Frs. Edmund Nwagbala and Aloysius Obiwulu of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu; Fr. I. Obinwa of Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha and Fr. Alphonsus Ndoo Okonkwo harmonized their work to give us the Instrumentum Laboris. This working document of the Synod was presented by His Lordship, Most Rev H. O. Okeke on 9th March 2005, at the meeting of the College of Consultors. This is a working tool; it is the guide to the assembly, the agenda as it were. The whole diocesan community was mandated to study it, since all interventions during the synod were to be restricted to the Instrumentum Laboris.
CONCLUSION With the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris, one could courageously say that all was ready for the first Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Synod. The Central Planning Committee and the Subcommittees have been operating in full swing. The Liturgy Subcommittee had set a pace with the liturgy of the opening and closing ceremonies; the finance committee liaised with the Diocesan Finance Secretariat to hunt for funds for the synod. The Publicity Subcommittee had announced the synod to the world. The Catering Subcommittee had ensured the catering process and the Protocol Subcommittee had gathered our bits together. The commissions had been together in sourcing the database for the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum Laboris. 43 44
RELATIO ANTE DISCEPTATIONEM
Presented at the First Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, 3-10 April 2005 by Rev. Fr. A.P Ezeobata
Hence, when His Lordship, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Most Rev Hilary Paul Odili Okeke, convoking the first synod of the diocese during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday 9 April 2004 chose the theme: Living the Faith in the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi “so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith”, it was a literal “downloading” of the fruits of these reflections to the particular context of the diocese, and indeed an inspired choice. The diocese is not subsisting and operating in a vacuum. It is a concrete reality, with all the qualities and properties of the Church of Christ, firstly divine as well as human. It also exists in time and space, among a people who have a history, a culture, socio-political organization, and institutions. With all of these, the local church shares the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century, the often-disconcerting speed of the information age, and the silent, sometimes not so silent questionings of the status quo even in the very heart of the Church herself. Thus the Church in Nnewi diocese, while fully aware of its identity and divine mandate, indeed precisely on account and as a result of that identity and that mandate, has a duty and call to consider herself in converse with her circumstances, situations, and environment, in order to fulfill her role effectively and efficiently, “so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith”. The Theme, the Mission, and the Vision The Family of God in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi perceives itself in a sort of reflective vision, whereby it beams on itself in the web of all its surroundings, and envisions its role within that circumscription. It is therefore on mission, first and foremost mission ad intra, to itself in a continual self-definition, self-assertion, and self-actualization. In its body collective and in the individual members, it strives to attain that fullness and maturity of Christ, in living faith, hope and love. In its mission ad extra, the family of God reaches out in obedience to its divine Master who said, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mark 16:15). The Church speaks with and to men and women who are not in its fold; sheds the light of the gospel of salvation on societal cultures, customs, and mores; examines, scrutinizes, and ennobles the temporal order; and constructively engages itself with the contemporary problems which impinge sometimes adversely, on both the temporal and spiritual aspirations of men and women of all shades. This is in a nutshell, the import of the theme, the ambient of the mission, and the focus of the vision, which this special assembly has set for itself to prayerfully pursue in the Spirit of the Father and the Son, “so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith”. 46
Introduction “This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, take its name: Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breath and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God”. (Ephesians 3:14 -19) The consciousness and image of the Church as the Family of God came into prominence especially in the context of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Taking its roots from the rich biblical imageries of familial relationships, it found great resonance in the particularly characteristic African ideals and value of the family, which that assembly exploited with significant results. That very same image has been reflected upon in its various ramifications and implications with regard to evangelization, in a direct line of descent from the Ecclesia in Africa, through The Church in Nigeria, Family of God on Mission, which was the Pastoral Exhortation arising from the nation's first Pastoral congress held in 2002. The family is a reality and institution very dear to the African soul in its natural as well as its spiritual dimensions. Tapping from the wealth of this fecund spiritual well, the Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Nnewi at its very inception boldly embraced and adopted the same image of the Family of God to a particular application and appropriation to the diocese as its guiding principle and operational model. In a timely setting of its compass and charting its course, a diocesan synod was envisaged to situate and establish this family in relation to the faith, which was already handed down, planted and received, with a view to being a faith lived, deepened, and shared. 45
Family of God on Mission located in the context and situation of Nnewi Diocese The Lineamenta or outline study document, and the Instrumentum Laboris have dwelt on the history and development of the diocese from inception in the heroic labours of the early missionaries and their collaborators and successors, through the years and growth in Onitsha Archdiocese up to the present time. Great effort has been expended in the compilation of this historical presentation, from which it is possible to visualize a coherent picture of the diocese's past and chart its progress. Nevertheless it is also acknowledged that as history never writes finis to anything, much more work, better and greater details would still be required. Already, for instance, the Instrumentum Laboris (no 23), directs attention to the key Native Chiefs who welcomed the early missionaries, as well as those who donated land and other facilitations in that early period. Furthermore, the prodigious growth recorded in numbers, parishes, stations, personnel, vocations, institutions, and sodalities, in brief, tremendous assets, which the Family of God treasures, has been detailed. Causes of thanksgiving to God, these assets must be considered in depth and a proper assessment of the correlation of quantity and quality carefully discerned and determined. The starkly negative areas of neo-paganism, idol worship in one form or another even among the baptized, and other social and moral ills tend to constitute a blight, casting a dark shadow on the recorded progress, and throwing up anew the paradox and anomalous phenomenon of the “baptized but not converted”. The synod sets all this before its sights. Indeed, most other sections of the working document present a similar picture of wonderful opportunities side by side with nearly daunting challenges as well. Roadmap for the Synod: Challenges and Opportunities The tool and mode par excellence, by which the Family of God, the Church effects encounter, whether ad intra or ad extra, is evangelization, euangelion, the Good News. The Church functions in and by evangelizing: living the presentation that God's love for mankind, “the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints…the mystery of Christ among you, your hope of glory. (Colosians 1:26, 27) is close at hand. Inaugurated by Jesus himself in the proclamation, 'the time has come' he said 'and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News', (Mark 1:15) the culmination came in the resurrection of Jesus, the Lord is risen indeed, the primary Kerygma of the apostles. The Good News is to be handed to our people in order to give the fullness of life in Christ, (cf John 47
10:10). It is to be shared and lived so that its transforming power may be at work in them, and manifest itself in their freedom as well as in their relationship and activities towards one another. Thus a redeeming influence will be established in society and its usages, such as will help in combating “unfortunate indices of paradoxes about the faith of our people” The Instrumentum Laboris, in nos. 33, 34, and 35 highlights some of these shadows which need to be dispersed by proper evangelization, namely unwholesome ways of living, clothed in the garb of culture or “our tradition”. These are often sources of conflicts such as Mmanwu ozoebune, the kindred or lineage ofo, recourse to deities or idols for oath taking and solutions to problems in the society. Also underscoring the need to evangelize and re-evangelize is the penchant for moving form church to church, and multiplication of fellowships, crusades, revivals etc, where signs and wonders, miracles, and other sensational outcomes are sought with inordinate avidity. All these call for vigilance and proactive approach to the task of evangelization, which is the reason for existence of the church, the Family of God and its members. Every stratum of the people of God in the diocese must be fully equipped to play its role in this task, the Bishop and Clergy, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful, to whom the call had been made, “you shall be may witness” (Acts 1:8). The question must include, as reactions to the Lineamenta have pointed out, how to maximize the use of the Schools, even those run by the state, but more so the numerous schools being established and managed by the church, in order to impart sound moral and religious convictions. It must include the review of methods and approaches to catechesis and in particular, the presentation and learning of the Catechism, the issue of who teaches the catechism, and what quality time are Christians young and old, prepared to devote to learning the faith. Concrete suggestion for the formation of agents of evangelization include establishment of schools of Evangelization in the Diocese, with centers in the regional and deanery levels. In brief the Instrumentum Laboris no.48 makes an outline of the diverse dimensions of he evangelizing mission of the Family of God. i. Primary Evangelization, which means bringing the Gospel Message to those who have never received it. ii. Liturgy, which is the Church's worship of the Trinity. iii. Pastoral Care for those already in the Church, deepening the faith of Christians by catechesis and other saving interactions. iv. Re-evangelizing lapsed Catholics and other Christians. 48
The witness of life in the values of our faith within the social, political, economic and cultural domains of existence.
In order to more fully consider these dimensions, evangelization in general need divisions into the sub-themes of Proclamation, Inculturation, Dialogue, Justice and Peace, Family Affairs, and Social Communications which are also the opportunities for the church to prosecute its mission. Proclamation Proclamation simply put is the announcement of the Good new of salvation. The sole object of proclamation is “Jesus Christ, crucified, died, and risen from the dead, the way, the Truth, and the Life.” Effective proclamation must lead to modeling the lives of men and women on Jesus Christ, by accepting, believing and living all the teachings of Christ and following the way he leads to salvation and the eternal destiny of mankind. There is no doubt that a great thirst for salvation has been aroused in our people which can only be satisfied by intensive and sustained proclamation of the Gospel aimed at molding individual lives after the pattern of Christ's saving life. The Instrumentum Laboris has clearly stated in n. 55 “it is therefore essential that the Family of God on Mission should center here mode of evangelization on a transforming encounter with the Living person of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.” This ought to be complemented by thorough and down to earth exposition of the word of God, preached in season and out of season. We must ask what text we have, what translations, of the Word of God, of Liturgical rites, of important documents of Christian's instruction. Intensive and more regular learning sessions, workshops, seminars, and other learning experiences have been recommended. Together with these the establishment of Biblical Centers, study groups in the form of Small or Basic or Neighborhood Christian communities is highly encouraged. The place and importance of the Sunday Evening instruction cannot be overemphasized. Inculturation Conceptually, inculturation is a theological term, which speaks essentially of the positive converse of faith with culture in a given milieu, and among a given people. It is a concrete condition and method of evangelization. The taking flesh of the Son of God by which “he dwell among us” John 1:14, known as the incarnation is the primordial paradigm of inculturation. Just as the Son of God took (flesh) on human nature and ennobled it, the Good News of salvation takes flesh in the various thought patterns, words, actions, and way of life of a people, becoming a principle that “ illumines, animates, elevates, and unifies the culture, making the people new creation in the Incarnate Son of God”. 49
In inculturation, it is usual to think of various dimensions, viewpoints, and perspective, like the Instrumentum Laboris No. 58 mentions the intimate transformation of authentic values through their integration in the Christian life, and the insertion of the Good News of salvation into the various thought patterns, words, and actions. Other dimensions could call for baptizing some wholesome cultural practices of people, in this case our people in our local environment in Nnewi diocese. Others speak of “Christianizing” aspects of our culture, which are of positive value. Whichever perspective we take, the most important point is to note that incultruation is an urgent priority and need which we cannot do without if we must make the faith we profess to really become culture. Pope John Paul II, as other popes and inspired church leaders through the centuries have long emphasized in different ways that a faith which has not become culture is a faith that has not been received. This therefore is one of the major tasks of the Family of God on mission in our diocese. We must inculturate according to the sound principles and time-tested practices employed by the apostles (cf Acts 15:22ff). It has been complained for too long that far too many of our people are yet wearing the faith like a garb, the faith is not skin deep, and faced with any hardships or problem of any sort, recourse is often made to the traditional approaches to solutions. Inculturation must touch on every aspect of the life of the Church and their expressions: Scripture, theology, Liturgy, structures of organization of life, and iconography. Similarly, it must also touch on every aspect of life of the people, especially those that border on limit situations: rites of passage, funeral celebrations, life initiations, social initiations, conflict resolution etc. This sacred assembly has to address the issues, which arise from conflicts between our cultural beliefs and practices on the one hand, and Christian practices on the other. Respondents to the Lineamenta show concern over such areas as Ozo title taking which though already addressed, still engenders reservations in many quarters. Other issues like masquerading, or Mmanwu in its different manifestations, oath taking, New Yam festivals, Ibu Ozu Nwada, and so on continue to pose obstacles sometimes to true practice of faith. On the other hand, concerns are also expressed regarding the wanton manner in which some members of the Family of God on Mission sometimes inflict a fanatical destruction of traditional objects and culture of people. These and other incidents like them underscore the need for well articulated, properly organized, and methodically executed policies and practice of inculturation, so that the faith may sit at home in the life of our people, “and Christ may live in your hearts through faith.” 50
Dialogue Dialogue is the interchange of communication between two or more parties. In religious terms, it means a sincere effort at mutual understanding and respect between parties of different religious persuasions, even though at times by extension it can be applied to any pursuit of mutual understanding even within the same religious group or denomination (cf Instrumentum Laboris No. 66), which points out that through the action of the Holy Spirit the grace of God is at work in all human persons of Good will, offering them the possibility of sharing in the Paschal Mystery. This Mystery of unity and union, community and communion, pervades all human history despite the differences in their religion and practice. The church is therefore in dialogue all the time in its encounter with the world and diverse peoples, aiming as she doe at the salvation and welfare of the human family. Practically prior to all other forms of dialogue, there is the need for harmony within the Family of God itself, which will continue to be a sign to all and sundry. Hence some areas of internal dialogue have been highlighted in the responses to the Lineamenta (see Instrument Laboris No. 67). Nevertheless, there are other levels of religious dialogue of equal interest to the Church, and these have to do with other religions, other churches, and ecclesial communions. In our area, ecumenical dialogue that is with the other Christian churches is an ongoing undertaking. But many express the view that the pace is rather slow and too tentative. Some measure of more boldness in well informed interaction and dialogue is required, especially on the level of experts and leaders, the abiding mistrust notwithstanding. Sustained prayers echoing the priestly prayer of Christ could be offered more regularly and publicly for this need. With regard to our culture, customs, and traditions, which retain a lot of the influence of African Traditional Religion, it has to be noted that any systematic initiatives towards dialogue with adherents of Traditional Religion had given rise to better understanding and respect between the two parties. The Ozo title agreement in many localities is one such example. A similar approach to other issues such as Ofo of different types and hierarchies, Igbandu, Inu Iyi, etc, holds out some promise of success. Should it not be considered to set up permanent standing bodies which should be fully activated and empowered to devise and put into place such initiatives as would make dialogue at all levels and of all types an ongoing exercise? Justice and Peace The Church in imitation of its divine Master has always shown and been actively involved in all efforts and endeavors to promote the human welfare, the progress 51
and development of the human society and solicitude for the deprived. Those activities, agencies, and organizations, by which the church channels these energies have come to be characterized as Justice and Peace. While all of those activities receive the attention of the Family of God on mission as a duty and mandate from Jesus the Master, a decisive skew is always observed in the particular attention to the less privileged persons, following the Lord's own mission statement in Luke 4:18, “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, and to proclaim the Lords year of Favour.” The church follows Jesus in the definitive option for the poor. How, and to what extent can it be said that the church in Nnewi diocese is fulfilling the role towards human welfare in say (promotion of human rights, equality and fairness) the progress and development of the society (political rectitude and responsibility), and solicitude for the deprived (the poor, the down trodden, the oppressed etc)? Do we have cause to take a close look at those areas around us, which may respondents to the Lineamenta stressed time and again. Note for instance “unbridled incessant levies or collections in the churches, political apathy among Catholics, disappointing delivery of dividend by the political class, oppressive social structures, enthronement of class distinctions by the awards of titles questionably earned, economic deprivation of personnel, even of the church etc. Think also of the discriminations in society and sometimes the maltreatment of groups based on gender or circumstance of birth. What infrastructures and provisions exist in our diocese for the care of the disabled, the handicapped; what care is provided for PLHIVA. It is in the attention, which the family of God on mission gives to these needful situations and conditions that success is achieved in making the prophetic voice of the church in our area resound with greater credibility and stridency, (cf Instrumentum Laboris No. 73-77). The Family of God on mission in our midst has taken steps in the right direction in many areas. “The problem of levies has been addressed by the new system of encouraging only freewill giving” for church projects, which is certainly a first of its own kind. The hope is that it spreads to all communities, parishes, stations, villages, wards, and zones of the diocese. 52
The flip side to it is that the synod hopefully provides much-needed catechesis on the issue of stewardship of the goods of this world, the needs of the church and the duty and obligation of the faithful to provide these needs through freewill offerings, donations tithes, bequests, and endowments. Should it be desirable and useful to establish bodies and agencies along with the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and Diocesan Caritas to take particular care of marginalized groups such as having Widows Welfare Committees and groups for the care of non-indigenes and other minority and vulnerable groups in every parish? These steps could go a long way to creating visible webs of solidarity and crowns of the mission of the Family of God. Family Affairs The Christian family evokes deep emotions, which go back to God as its source (Eph. 3:14). Witness Instrumentum Laboris No. 84 stating that “God has endowed this fundamental institution (family) with qualities, values, and purposes which are crucial for the continuance of the human race, for the progress as well as the temporal and spiritual welfare of her members, and for dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the whole human society, as a whole”. Its specific importance and relevance to evangelization is “especially because it is in the community of the family that parents draw the strength to lead their children to real Catholic maturation of their personalities, according to the grace of the Good News of salvation proclaimed in the church for the salvation of souls (Instrumentum Laboris No. 84 p49). There is no gain saying that the “true standing of the family determines the future of the church and of the world.” If this sacred assembly of the first diocesan synod has any peculiar distinguishing features, a kind of individuating circumstance, it lies in the highlighting of family Affairs alongside the sub-themes of the main theme. This is to underline the paradigmatic underpinnings of the family in relation to the Family of God on Mission. The strengthening of the bond of love between spouses, the adherence to the covenantal reality of the sacrament of Matrimony, the good and Christian education of the children and the way forward therein, are some of the concerns raised in the responses to the Lineamenta. Furthermore, the apparent tensions within families occasioned by practices such as polygamy, Nkuchi Nwanyi, Nhachi Nwanyi, girl- child marriage, female genital mutilation, denial of educational opportunities for the girl-child, low male enrollment in school, etc need to be addressed. So also does the youth scene with indulgence in drugs and cult practices deserve attention, so as to safeguard the future of the natural families well as the spiritual Family of the church. 53
Social Communications God the Father initiated communication. Creation is Gods communication of being and meaning. God brought forth beings by means of his word- “and God said…” He spoke his word of salvation through the prophets of old and in the fullness of time spoke to us through his son. (Heb. 1:1) Jesus gave the command to his disciples to “proclaim” the kingdom of God. The church exists to announce the good news, “evangelion”, to all. The church is the broadcasting corporation numero uno. Particularly in this information age, which has turned the world into the proverbial global village, this function of the Family of God on mission is under grater challenge, and at all levels this challenge is felt whether we are talking of the means of delivery of the word of God in our churches, stations etc. or our use of the Radio, Television, the internet. What of the public address system in place in our churches? How prepared are we to invest in these instruments of effective preaching? How much use do we make of the radio and television for presenting our programmes, viewpoints, and position in faith? How many church personnel do we train in the techniques, skills, and profession of social communications? Anyone who has a message should need the means of delivering that message. Our patronage of the Diocesan Newspaper and other published materials will go a long way to projecting the image of our diocese as well as bringing its programmes to the doorsteps of every member of the family of God and beyond. The home video industry is exerting a huge influence among our people today, with mostly negative results. How do we bring the gospel of Christ to the centre of this influence, and sanitize and balance the situation? These are some of the considerations, which call for our attention in this sacred assembly. Conclusion Nnewi diocese was created at a particularly auspicious moment when the two distinct tides of renewed evangelization especially in Africa were blowing with singular intensity. These tides refer to the new evangelization proclaimed at the approach to the new millennium, and its specific concretization in the Ecclesia in Africa. The image of the Family of God as applied to the church projected a brilliance and effulgence, which mirrored and touched a chord on the Africa heart. The determination and commitment to realize to the full the benefits of this shining image is what lies behind the theme of this first ever synod of the diocese. Following the various aspects of evangelization as sub-themes, it is hoped that the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi will attain its much-expected self-definition, self-assertion, and self-actualisation. 54
As we are assembled in this solemn assembly, how can we fail to feel and see ourselves like the Church at its infancy following the ascension of the Lord, engaged in prayerful reflection and learning from the Holy Spirit of the Lord, and cum Maria matre Jesu, equipping itself for a phenomenal transformation of its world? We invoke our Mother and Queen assumed into heaven together with the heavenly hosts to accompany us along the path (hodos) we walk together (syn) in this encounter, “so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith”. God bless you.
Anichebe Patrick Ezeobata (Very Rev. Fr.)
Overview of the History of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, and Lessons for Renewed Evangelisation in the Diocese. Missionary Heritage of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, 1885-2005 Hilary C. Achunike Rev. Fr.
Saturday, December 5, 1885, was the date that marked the planting of Roman Catholicism in the lower Niger. This date was the harbinger of Catholic heritage, which we have and enjoy today. Thus, the Igbos, through the efforts and sacrifices of the Catholic missionaries who devoted their lives to intense evangelization, inherited Roman Catholicism in all its ramifications. However, it has to be noted that prior to its arrival in Onitsha, several attempts were made by the Portuguese Missionaries to plant Christianity in Benin Kingdom, but all failed. However, the success story of the Catholic Christianity inherited by the Igbo was not forced through the barrel of the gun as Ayandele would want us to believe. The tolerant Igbo traditional religion and the similarity between Igbo culture and Roman Catholicism in particular helped a great deal in the conversion of the Igbo to Catholicism in particular. J such similarities could be seen in Aja Missa (Sacrifice of the Mass), the concept of the priest as a mediator, holy communion, indissolubility of marriage, the influence of the ancestors, the idea of the angels or spirits, etc. (Ozigboh 1988:267-277). 55 56
The planting of Catholic Christianity was not done in a vacuum. Prior to its arrival, the Anglican Church was already there at Onitsha in 1857. it must have softened the ground for and prepared the minds of the people towards accepting the Catholic religion. The planting of Catholicism came with its attendant problem: gaining the earliest converts, the formation o the Christian village, redeeming slaves to make Christians out to them and consequently setting them free; attempting to convert the chiefs with the intention of reaching their subjects; the many treks embarked on by the missionaries to reach the interior or the Igbo hinterland etc. These efforts paid off as many Catholic churches were founded in many towns. An overview history of what is known as the beginning of the history of Nnewi diocese could be seen in the solo treks of Fr. Duhaze. He was an itinerant church planter who came to Ozubulu through Oguta. Though Duhaze came to Nigeria in 1904 he made treks to Ozubulu to negotiate for opening of a new station around 1906. Through Duhaze the then Ezeani Ezeodenigbo invited the missionaries to come to settle in Ozubulu. In his journal entry of Duhaze on 27th December 1906, he wrote among other things “…Ozubulu is demanding a teacher. This town is well placed for future development. Object of replacing Nsugbe with a new foundation”, (Jordan 1949:42). Ozubulu people got together and worked hard for a resident priest. In a short time, they built a school, a home for Father and one for Catechist. Before this time, the Protestant church was long established. (Obe et al eds. 1985 :129). The Anglican Church came to Ozubulu in later part of 1905 and was fully established in January 1906. The location of CMS mission was at “Nke Nnubia” in Egbema Ozubulu. The missionaries sought for a place with particular features. Finally the Church fell on Ozubulu where the school stood on an excellent site, which commanded a Glankeen-like valley of water and woodland. Ozubulu was within easy working distance of particularly the whole group that had accepted schools in 1906 Isingwu, Ibolo, Ukpor, Oba, Nnewi, and Okija (Jordan 1949:43). On the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel September 29, 1908, Ozubulu Parish was formally opened; Victor Duhaze was the first parish Priest. Thus, Ozubulu became the fifth parish in Onitsha Archdiocese after Holy Trinity Parish Onitsha, Aguleri Parish, Nsugbe Parish, and St. Mary's Parish inland town Onitsha. Ozubulu parish was closed down in 1927 but was reopened once again in 1953. 57
It does not appear form the foregoing accounts that Nnewi, a neighbouring town to Ozubulu wanted to be associated with Ozubulu parish as has been x-rayed above. Ikenga-Metu and C. Ejizu noted and rightly so that Nnewi was at a time an out station of St. Mary's Onitsha. They further claimed that Father Victor Duhaze who lived at St. Mary's Onitsha, in his famous exploratory visit in the interior of Igboland “did not touch Nnewi in that particular trip” (E. IkengaMetuh and C. Ejizu in his orther trips. Further, they did not tell us whether Duhaze ever quarrelled with Nnewi people. Therefore, their claims are spurious and unsubstantiated with valid and undisputed facts. However, the author will be praised for reconstructing the damaging effect of history and carefully avoided a link with Ozubulu through Father Duhaze (Hilary C. Achunike 2000:51-52) However, with the passage of years, the missionaries were faced with another problem, raising the local clergy and indigenising Catholic Christianity. Catholic Seminaries started with difficulties in 1924 and by 1950 Bigard Memorial Seminary was founded. Ozigboh (1998) has given a graphic account of the genesis of the Catholic Seminaries in Eastern Nigeria. But white missionaries found it very hard to accept fully the first generation Igbo Catholic Priests since they were not academically on a par with them. Consequently, priests like William Obelagu, Michael Tansi, Joseph Nwanegbo, Mark Unegbu, David Panaki, Moses Emerenini, Edward Ahaji, Anthony Nwedo, Clement Ulogu, Peter Meze Idigo, Dominic Ekandem, Godfrey Okoye, Edward Nwafor, Moses Orakwudo, Michael Eneja, Martin Maduka, Stephen Ezeanyi, Innocent Egbujie, etc. found it entirely difficult to gain proper education as to be fully accepted by the white Catholic Missionaries as their equals or colleagues (Achunike 2003). Not to be forgotten is the development of juniorates and houses of formation for the male religious. However, the ordination of the local clergy grew markedly between 1976 and 1984. From 1985 to the present, the ordination of local clergy is of epic proportions. The laity, which includes chiefs, catechists, teachers, women, men and children, grew in large proportions. Vincent Nwuso (1990) has documented a first class account of The Laity and The Growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria with particular reference to Onitsha between 1903 and 1983. Following this E. I. Metuh and C. Ejizu (1985) wrote down an account of a century of Catholicism in Nnewi. Their work is commendable and is a reference work even though the authors are not trained historians. Their accounts concentrated on the founding and unprecedented growth of Catholicism in Nnewi town. They failed to make a future projection of this promising church. 58
Again, enough space was not given to the Anglican church which arrived Nnewi in 1893, some nine years before the advent of Catholic church in Nnewichi in 1902. They forgot almost entirely the existence of the African independent churches and particularly the Pentecostals. THE SACRAMENTS In inheriting the Catholic Church, the Igbo inherited the full sacraments of the Catholic Church. The Catholic missionaries together with the first generation priests right up to the present priests strove strenuously to impart the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church to its adherents. This was done directly through the homilies of the priests, Sunday evening instructions, and during the catechetical classes. It was also done through other church related documents like the Lenten pastorals, etc. Today, that system of mass education needs to be revised while integrating the modern means of communicating. Pastoral communication will do the Catholic Church in Nnewi a world of good. Most people, who were baptized as infants, received communion and possibly got confirmed as children or adolescents but grew up not too sure of what they had learnt. After marriage and church wedding, a good number zero into the knighthood or become Ozo titled Christians. They still search for a more fulfilling spiritual food. There is a noticeable lacuna for particular spirituality for the youths. Here, a life in the spirit seminar of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal can serve as a good substitute. The sacraments, which are the trademarks of the Catholic Christianity, must not only be reshaped but also made relevant to the 21st century Igbo Christians. In doing this, Ecumenism cannot be forgotten. Ecumenism presupposes dialogue among Christians, which is very crucial today. This is important because Pentecostalism of all colours and hues are found in Nnewi today together with members of other mainline churches. CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD One of the sacraments the holy orders or the sacred priesthood should receive a special mention. This is because priests are both the official representatives of the church and the administrators and spiritual dispensers or leaders. The demographic picture of Catholic Priests in Nigeria today is very impressive. Nnewi diocese, which is three years old, is not an exception because she is annually blessed with several ordinations to the priesthood. One can safely say that it is because of the growth in the number of priests (and consequently the laity) that new parishes and dioceses are created in Igboland and Nigeria in general. But as is expected, there is always a problem with big numbers. We have had few cases of priests who have left the priesthood in Igboland. We do not pray to have such experience in our young diocese now or in the future. And God has been particularly gracious to us since no bishop in Igboland or in Nigeria has called it quits. 59
Catholic priests are well educated but they seem to be casting after completing their further studies. With proper education, better inculturation, a deep sense of Igbo culture, and deeper application of Catholic doctrines, the priests have a lot to do in the Lord's vineyard. Many things in this modern and computer age are demanding their attention. In our recent publications, we have observed that Nigeria is peopled with the highest number of Catholic theologians in African yet, many of them are not confident in themselves, academically speaking. They take their cue from America and Europe. After their study, many come back to settle down in the parishes. Many of them are not research-oriented. They are not writing either for self-improvement or to transform the society (Achunike 2004). The intellectual contributions of the priests in Nigeria are very much needed to help shape and form the opinion of people in the world today, particularly in Nigeria. A witness to the holiness of life in imitation of Christ is very urgently needed in today's world. A priest stands necessarily as a sign of contradiction. Only Africans (including African priests and the religious) can adequately develop themselves and their God given society or environment. DIOCESAN AND PARISH ADMINISTRATION There is no doubt that we inherited our diocesan and parish administration from the missionaries. It has largely remained so for decades now. What is worrisome is our concept of dioceses and parishes. The diocese must be large. We seem to be obsessed with jumboism. Indeed, we need to spread the parishes and make them smaller in number. It will not be a sin if our parishes are located within 10 minutes walking distance or 10 minutes driving distance. Our approach to parish administration must be dialogical. It is unfortunate to note that priests are still lording it over our people. Priests have the sole duty of continuously reminding their parishioners or the congregants of the need to engage in participatory liturgy. Songs and hymns belong to our missionary heritage. Sure enough, there have been obvious improvements on the creation or composition of songs classical and local. But many choirs in many Catholic Churches still sing hymns that are not only foreign but are not common with the congregants. A change carefully and thoughtfully introduced will revolutionize some aspects of our ministries. For instance, annual mission collection, which is now called Annual Church Fund, was mandatory in the past and linked to going to confession or receiving some of the sacraments. If one failed to pay to the Annual Church Fund (ACF), one would not be allowed to go the confession. But all this has now changed because of the diocesan reform. People need freedom and not coercion, conviction not compulsion. A good number of convinced Christians can “Move Mountains” with their faith. Bishop Hilary P.O. Okeke (2005:5) agrees. We will quote him at length. 60
We have reformed the Annual Church Fund system, a missionary heritage. It was characterized and marred by compulsion. We have embarked on voluntary fulfilment of ht obligation to support the church from one's means according to one's faith. Twice a year, there will be special collection for sustaining the work of a parish and diocese and for meeting other demands. We have also rationalized second collections in such a way that there would not be more than two second collections in a month. Your response has been commendable. Your donations at the second anniversary celebrations, at the Cathedraticum, at the “Annual Church Fund Collection” in March and October and diocesan collection in August have provided generously for the needs of the diocese. I thank you. I encourage you to continue giving your support willingly and generously. May the Lord who cannot be outdone in generosity reward you most abundantly. The above is close to payment of tithes. There is nothing absolutely wrong with encouraging the faithful to pay their tithes weekly (for traders) and monthly (for the civil servants). The Catholic method of future payment if accepted, must be devoid of Pentecostal colouring and the paid tithe must be indicated in the parish account book as is reportedly done in Onitsha Archdiocese. It is not an overstatement to note that some priests have consistently preached about payment or tithes. What remains is to harmonize it on diocesan level. EVANGELISATION THROUGH SCHOOLS The name of Bishop Shanahan is synonymous with Catholic evangelization through schools particularly primary and secondary schools. Thus, the catholic method of establishing schools in the whole of Igboland and beyond became legendary. However, the schools were taken over by the military government immediately after the Nigerian civil war. Education is necessary in life. No church or country can do without serous education of its members or citizens. It has long been known that the alternative to education is ignorance, which in itself is a terrible disease, which breeds poverty, confusion or rudderlessness. Few schools however have been retuned to the churches, Catholic and otherwise, by the government. While the injustice and the highhandedness of the government in taking what does not belong to it (mission schools) last, efforts should be intensified to establish new schools. In deed, nursery, primary and secondary schools have been established since after the war by different churches but more efforts are needed. Not too long ego, licenses have been granted to different churches to float universities. Everything possible should be done not to loss this opportunity. 61
At present, the Catholic Church in Nigeria has got three universities: Madonna University Okija, Catholic University of Abuja (CUNA) and Caritas University Enugu. These three universities cannot satisfy the yearnings of the Catholics and non-Catholics in Nigeria. More are needed and some are in the offing. Priests an the religious should be trained as specialists in different disciplines to help run these universities. The role of the laity is equally important in this regard. Happily, the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt now runs Bachelor of Theology courses for the professed sisters and lay men and women. The Spiritan International School of Theology (SIST) Atakwu is running a similar programme. The Catholics presence in the Nigeria secular universities has been dwindling over the years. For instance, at eh University of Nigeria, Nsukka, up to ten priests have been lost by death and some have been retied. But surprisingly, there is no noticeable replacement of these priests scholars or university teachers. Other churches are more aware of their roles in the secular universities than the Catholic Church particularly in Igboland. The presence of priest means a lot in the secular universities. Their apostolate in these ivory towers is unique. The Catholic heritage through schools cannot and should not be limited to primary and secondary schools only. BLOCK ROSARY CRUSADE After the visitation of our Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children at Fatima, Portugal, the Block Rosary Crusade (BR C) started in earnest round the world. Before the Nigeria Biafra crisis, it had started in Igbo land and spread to several places. But today, Block Rosary Crusade is not what it used to be. It seems to be a shadow of itself. The block rosary centres are closing up in several places around Igboland. This is because it is regarded as something purely meant children. Anglicans have a similar organization. But on the whole the block rosary crusade is being swallowed up and displaced by crusades and night vigils organized by Catholics and non-Catholics. The children spend more hours watching television programmes than they give the block rosary crusade. In itself, block rosary crusade is a potent means of evangelization, which we seem to be neglecting to our detriment. Other pious societies or sodalities in the church must be supported and sustained. Sr. Lucia (The Leader), the last of the three children visited by the Virgin Mary died on 13th February 2005 at the age of 97 at the Carmelite Covent of St. Teresa at Coimbra in Central Portugal. There is need to step up our desire for Marian dedicated several pages to the understanding of the role of Mary in the world today particularly among nonCatholics. It is heartening to note how Protestant stripes like Methodists, 62
Baptists, Presbyterians and the Evangelicals are recovering the role of Mary in the economy of salvation. Perhaps motivated by feminism and the feminine role in religion, priests and theologians are beginning to recover the role of Mary in the New Testament. The Protestant pastors and their theologians preach about it in their different churches in their own way. EVANGELIZATION IN GENERAL Evangelization in Igboland from the 1970s appears more as a given than conscious effort aimed at conversion. Catholics are generally known to be good managers or caretaker of the flocks under their care than making new converts. They do not of ten attempts to convert people of other faiths. Conversion as such is a very difficult thing. However, God has been with us for a good deal of the time. It is quite embarrassing to know the number of Catholics who regularly drift to the Pentecostal churches. In deed an Igbo Catholic Bishop put it this way: “when the Pentecostals want to win more members, they come to the Catholic church. And this is because Catholics are very comfortable with themselves because they presume that they lack nothing.”. Catholics in Nnewi diocese inherited an enviable system of evangelization that must not be allowed to die down. Efforts must be doubled at preaching the word of God in churches and public places. Evangelization through the media (Achunike 2002) is today a necessity and in fact is imperative even though it takes huge sums of money. The traditional ways of Catholic method of evangelization must be updated and more initiative injected into them. Teaching catechism, home-to-home visitation, visitation of the sick, Medicare, schools award of scholarship, celebration of public mass, market evangelism, building of monasteries, leprosaria etc. must be properly utilized. Above all exemplary life, detachment from material possessions, holiness of life, good neighbourliness and ploughing one's wealth into the building of God's kingdom (Church) on earth should be encouraged at all cost. Priests an their Bishop in Nnewi diocese should be seen making conscious efforts not only to guard this heritage jealously, but actually deepening, protecting, defending and teaching the faith to the Catholic Christians. There have been many changes in the world today and these changes are impacting on the churches often negatively. For instance, the effects of television, video and constant watching of the CNN though educative have been largely negative. But viewed from another perspective, what this means is that we are being invited to use the electronic media as a new altar or pulpit to counter the negative impacts they have on the vast masses of the people. Writing on the recent sickness (suffering) of the Holy Father and its relevance to the Christians and non-Christians the Newsweek magazine of 28th February 63
2005 made several points central to Christianity. Christianity is about suffering, torture and the experience of the Christ on the cross because of ht love he has for mankind. This is our heritage and must not be lost on us, Catholic Christians, now or in the future. Our Charismatic Christ has taught us that heaven is gained through the narrow way. Writing in his treatise “Salvifici Doloris” Pope John Paul II argued that: Suffering is not punishment for a crime or sin. As Job understood, as Isaiah preached in the Old Testament and Christ Taught in the Gospels an his life, suffering is merely part of the human condition and can best be answered with love. “Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence”. It is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense 'destined' to go beyond himself. Yes, the missionaries suffered to bring us our heritage the Christian faith in an earthen jar. We must suffer to pass on the baton so as to give birth to other Christians. Newsweek magazine further mad e some startling revelations on the change in Catholic share of population 1970 2-5. The USA has 1%, France 12%. Ireland and Austrian have 6% and 18% respectively. Puerto Rico has 24%. Brazil and New Zealand have 3% each. Italy has + 2%. Poland the homeland of Pope John Paul II has + 4%. Sudan and South Korea have + 5% and + 7% respectively. Congo has + 20% and Micronesia has + 37%. Finally, Nigeria has + 6%. The purpose of the pluses and minuses as percentagized is to show where Christianity is most active. What these translate to is that the number of Catholics worldwide is dwindling but the rolls are still growing in Africa and Asia. Latin America still has large population of Catholics. One good Catholic argued that September 11 tragedy in the USA in 2001 has driven many Americans back to the churches. But the truth is that Paedophilia, scandals in high places and the Anglican Episcopal ordination of a homosexual have driven many Americans out of the Churches. A good number of them now live in fear of the unknown PRIESTLY APOSTOLATE/MINISTRY Some priests are undoubtedly doing their ministry with every might and main. Judged by ourselves, we can be seen to be making fantastic progress. But when compared with pastors of other churches especially on preaching the word of God and other forms of evangelization, we seem to be wanting. For instance John Okonkwo Alutu who wrote Nnewi History devoted some portions of his book to the Catholic Church and the activities of her priests in Nnewi. He noted the different styles of doing the apostolate or executing the priestly ministry and the different charisma of the Catholic priests who worked at Nnewi many years back. It is instructive that Alutu (1986) who is obviously not a Catholic compared Fr. Louis Kettels and Fr. Godwin Ikeobi. He noted that both had two 64
striking qualities or virtues: simplicity and pragmatism. He saw Fr. B. Onwusaomba as a dutiful priest and who had vast areas to do his ministry. He had the sole task of inspiring the Igbo whose spirit was dampened because Biafra lost their war. He insisted the cohabitation of husband s an wives must be after the church wedding. Emmanuel Nwosu who came after Onwuasmba was approachable. Ikeobi was flexible and clever and taught Catholic doctrines through traditional religion. He saw Ikeobi as very pastoral and down to earth but a revolutionary of some sort. Christopher Ezekwugo was religious and encouraged people to the priesthood and sisterhood in addition to being hardworking and sympathetic particularly to the marginalized of the society. However, his not taking the Nnewi culture seriously brought some dissatisfaction to himself and the Nnewi community, which resulted in not sending him off formally in 1976. Dennis Sokei was cautious. He mad effort not to offend anybody but people were not satisfied with his approach. His policy was that of non-committal according to Alutu. Sokei presented the idea of building a central church for Okowanna Nnewi. Launchings for funds were organized and large sums of money were realized. However, when he was leaving in 1979 the central church building had not started because of contract disagreements. Moses Nnajofor was a good singer, loved children and awarded the contract for the building of the central church. The contract confusion however persisted. In 1979 when Nnajofor was still the parish priest, Oraifite Parish was carved out of Nnewi parish and Fr. Clement Okpala succeeded Nnajiofor. He worked hard and celebrated 3 masses on Sunday with ease. During his time Otolo parish was carved out of Uruagu Parish. There are always brave people in nay society. Alutu belongs to this group. Alutu wrote the history of Nnewi not minding the undesirable heritage Christian rivalry that Ekechi (1971) has carefully documented. Alutu's keen observation of Catholics and priests and his ability to educate Catholic activities in Nnewi are worthy of emulation. We cannot please ourselves in the false belief that we are perfect and consequently rest on our oars. Catholic priests and the laity must belt up to represent Christ and his church to the world an to make these very relevant now and in the future. The Igboman or woman cannot run away form himself/herself by becoming Christian. He/she must be a real Igbo man or woman and good Christian or Catholic. This informs the spirit of this first synod of the Catholic diocese of Nnewi whose convocation is today held in Ozubulu, the first port of call in what is Nnewi diocese by the white Catholic Missionaries. SECULARISM, HUMANISM OR ATHEISM Ordinarily, the three terms or concept above do not seem to be part of our heritage. However, they are our heritage, at least indirectly. They were read by 65
Christians in various literatures. These concepts were and are still discussed within the homilies in Catholic churches etc. Above all, Christians live in the world that is today becoming more secular than ever. The world, which the churches have devoted her bimmillenial experience and wisdom to convert to Christ, is today converting Christians to its ways. Arnold Bittlinger put it succinctly thus: There are many endless false teachings in the world today, which try to steer us away from our course and to lead us astray. They buoy us up with false promises of a happy life, independent of God, but he end of this is sin and misery. Africans are incurably religious. But the world is fast changing. Today, people are doing away with religion especially in Europe and the USA. People erroneously believe thy no longer need God to succeed in life. Religion is meant to train people and some believe that they have come of age. They think they have overgrown religion; that they can now stand on their own. The danger in this is that our people who travel out a lot imbibe this idea and spread it when they return home. Some learn by watching television or the CNN. But many people even in Nigeria believe that they that they humanists. Some have claimed to be atheists. And we have not far to seek in locating them Tai Solarin, an educationist had nothing to do with Christianity or any other religion for that matter when he was alive. Femi falana a lawyer and social activist is another apostle along this line. Ironically pastor Chris Okotie founder of the Household of God Ministry Ikeja, Lagos and a former presidential candidate of the Justice Par (JP) in the 2003 elections has honoured late Tai Solarin posthumously with the Karis Award to the tune of N500.000 Sheila his wife collected the money on his behalf while urging those present to fight for the values Solarin fought and died for. Recently according to the Guardian Newspaper Prince Ajayi Memaiyetan, a veteran journalist and son of a Pastor proclaimed that he neither believes in heaven or hell. According to him, “I am a humanist, I don't believe in ay religion, all I am doing now is to be remembered when I am no more and would want people left behind to say that there used to live a certain fellow here who did so and so to alleviate the suffering of his fellow man. I am not doing all am doing for the sake of heaven or hell, for I don't believe they exist”. What of homosexuals or lesbians? Are they limited to the USA or Europe? This synod may not be directly concerned with these questions. But these problems exist in Nigeria today. It is no longer a secret that our national female soccer team fail to perform on occasions because they practice lesbianism. Think of contraception, divorce, and social justice, secret cults of any kind in Nnewi town. Our attitude toward money and worship of 66
wealth must be looked into the idea of single parent is not only an issue in our society today but it is fast taking root in Nigeria. Pope Pius XI in 1937 wrote an encyclical: Atheistic Communism. That was when communists governed Russian and Mexico and were engaged in a bloody war within a civil war in Spain to control the government of that country. Communist lost the war in Spain, and Mexico has changed for the better but communism persisted. Twenty-eight years later precisely in 1965, Pope Paul VI entrusted to Jesuits a special task of combating atheism in the world. The society officially accepted this charge during their General congregation in the same year. Five years after this papal demand, Arrupe who headed the Jesuits admitted then that he made a mistake. He proposed a “broader context” (James Hitchcock 1984). The Jesuits thus zeroed into social justice and this has led them to be advocates of several unacceptable things by the church. I am thinking of some Jesuits advocacy of women ordination to the priesthood, their proabortion stance and support for sexual revolution etc. the Jesuits no doubt have the intellectual stature an academic credential to execute this job but things have changed. Since John Paul II's intervention and reorganization of the Jesuits' hierarchy there has been uneasy calm. However, despite the measure taken by the church and her unrelenting manner or evangelization, people seem to see secularism as a worth while venture. Priests who are scholars must wake up to the realities of our time. It is my considered view that we must not always take our cue from America and Europe. They seem to be over civilized and definitely need to be reevangelised. However, our detachment goes with some responsibilities. For instance, we must be self-supporting and self-reliant church. The minds of the faithful must be disabused so that they complain less when the church makes financial demands from them. In addition, the local church must pursue rigorously the justice Development and Peace Commission Programmes, which are already there and make them more relevant to the people of the diocese. CONCLUDING REFLECTION This is the first synod of Nnewi diocese but it will not be the last. Synod is ongoing, to help build and make Christ's church ever relevant and meaningful to the people. The missionary heritage of our young diocese must be treasured and referred to. The sacraments need to be looked at with fresh eyes. The role of the priests is ever more important now and in the future. The future of our diocese is bright. But for this future to be assured, evangelization or proclamation of the good new must be taken much more seriously. W e cannot run away form the world that is constantly changing. 67
Rather we must brace up for action. All must work out their salvation in fear and trembling. Priests and the laity who are gifted intellectually must use their giftedness to salvage our society from the onslaught of secularism or humanism. The African face of Christianity must be projected and sustained. This is largely the function of the intellectuals. There is need for dialog among Christians. The missionaries did not labour in vain. To justify the missionary heritage, we ought to strive harder than the missionaries so as to make a difference. Thank you and God bless our young Catholic diocese of Nnewi. NOTES R.A. Ozigbo (1988) Roman Catholicsim in Eastern Nigerian 1885-1931. Onitsha: Etukokwu Publishers (Nig.) Ltd. R.A. Ozigbo (1998) “Catholic Seminaries in Eastern Nigerian, 1924 1996: An Historicla Excursion”, The Nigerian Journal of Theology Vol. 12, June. John Jordan (1949) Bishop Shanahan of Southern Nigeria. Dublin: Clonmore and Reynolds Ltd). Celestine A. Obi et al (eds) (1985) A Hundred years of the Cahtolic Church in Eastern Nigerian. 1885 1985. Onitsha: Africana Fep Publishers Limited. E Ikenga-Metuh and C. Ejizu (1985) Hundred Years of Catholicism in Eastern Nigeria 1885 1985. the Nnewi story: A Historico Missiological Analysis. Nimo, Asele Institue. Hilary C. Achunike (2003) “Stephen Ezeanya, 1961 1980: The University Years”. Valerian Okeke (ed) (2003) Christian Witness: Essays in Memory of Archbishop Stephen Nweke Ezeanya, Enugu; Delta Publications. Hilary Achunike (2002) “Catholic Missionary Evangelism and Inculturation: the Ozubulu Connection 1908-1998”. Journal of Liberal Studies. Vol. 8 No. 1 April 2000. Hilary Achunike (2004) the Influence of Pentecostalism on Catholic Priest an Seminarias in Nigeria, Onitsha: Africana First Publishers Limited. Michael Ogunu (2005) “The Life and death of Sister Lucia, the last Visinary of Fatima , The Leader, Sunday March 20. David Van Biema (2005) “Hail Mary” Time Magazine, March 21 68
Hilary P.O. Okeke (2005: 5) Let us Celebrate The Mystery of Faith: Pastoral Letter. Onitsh : Good mark Prints Production Inc. Hilary Achunike (2002:64-89) “Televangelsm and the Survival of Churches in Nigeria. 1970-2000” in Hilary C. Achunike (2002) Evangelzation in the third millennium: A Contemporary Analysis. Onitsha: Africana- Fep Publishers Ltd. Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland. “Precious Suffering”. Newsweek, February 28, 2005. 1980/82. enugu Fourth Dimension Publishers. Arnold Bittlinger (`1977:96), Gifts and Ministris. Stoughton. London: Hodder and
The Goals, Methods and Dynamics of New Evangelisation A Paper Presented at the First Diocesan Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi (3rd 10th April 2005) on Monday 4th of April 2005. By Rev. Fr. Tony Igweagu
INTRODUCTION: The term NEW EVANGELISATION issues precisely from the Holy Father Pope John Paul II. It has been part and pared of his dream since his election into the papacy (October 16, 1978). This dream in some way influenced his thoughts in the very first encyclical he wrote tilled “Redemptor Hominis”. While in Nigeria in 1982 he inaugurated for the church in Nigeria “a new era of Evangelization.” During his visit to Mexico, city May 6, 1990 the Holy Father summed up his pontificate in these words: “ The Lord the master of history and of our destinies has wished that my pontificate be that of a pilgrim Pope of evangelization, walking down the roads or the world bringing to all people the message of salvation” Pope John Paul II was validly called the kerygmatic Pope because of his consistency in proclaiming Christ and calling upon us to do the same. He was an Evagelizer and invites all to get trained and become evangelisers like himself. He has also this marching orders foe evangelisation in his famous encyclical “Redomtoris Missio Dated Dec. 7, 1990 which he wrote to mark the 25th anniversary of “Ad Gentes” the Vatican II document on the mystery and mission of the Church. 'Redemtoris Missior' is a forceful and crystal clear call to dynamic evangelistic action that the service of this call of Pope John Paul II. It is in this school that people are thought the Goals methods and the dynamics of this New Evangelization and groomed to become active evangelisers. 70
Pope Pius XI (1937) Atheistic communis, London Catholic Truth Soceity. James Hitchcock (1984) The Pope and the Jesuits: John Paul II and the New Order in the Society of Jesus. New York: The National Committee of Catholic Laymen, Inc. F. K. Ekechi I1971) Missionary Enterprise and Rivalry in Igboland 1857 1914 London: Frank Cass. V. A. Nwosu (1990) The laity and the Growth of Catholic Church in Nigeria: The Onitsha Story 1903-1983. Julius Ogunro (2005) “Subterranean Moves” Insider Magazine January 10, p. 33 Jonathan Arebanmhen and Confidence Igwe (2005) “Nobody Can Stop Lesbianism in Nigerian” Sun Newspaper, January 22, p. 18. Ibrahim Barde (2005) “This Pastor's Son Does not Believe in Heaven or Hell … and Does not Believe in any Religion Too” Sun Newspaper, January 22, p.34. Michael Ogunu (2005) The Life Death of Sister Lucia, the Last visionary of Fatima, The Leader Newspaper, March, 20, p. 10.
THE DYNAMICS OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION. There are three aspects of the new Evangelization, which the Holy Father Pope John Paul II had always highlighted whenever he talked about the Dynamites of the New Evangelisation. They are: (i) NEW IN METHOD (ii) NEW IN ZEAL (iii) NEW IN EXPRESSION i. NEW IN METHOD: The message of salvation is the same; Jesus today and Jesus forever; but the method of the communication of that same message is the one that is to be New. This new method seeks to get the people to read the Bible and to understand the doctrine of the church. They are to appreciate it live it our and share it with others. On the first Sunday of advent for the 1997 liturgical year. On December 1, 1996 to be precise, His Holiness Pope John Paul II called on every adult Christian to carry the faith in him or her into the world-into the market places. Civil offices, workshops, Schools, streets, villages, Hospitals and other works of life where people are found and to begin to preach the good New to all creation. He announced that the way we profess our faith come the new millennium is to change. In the previous millennium the method of the practice of our faith was largely that of coming into the church to listen to the homilies of ordained ministers at Holy Mass and other celebrations and going back home to live out what we heard in our daily lives an no more. But for this third millennium, all adult Christians have to endeavour to become evangelisers who not only live out their faith in their daily lives but also who engage actively in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. It was then that the Pope mapped out the detailed procedure how this it to be carried out in such a way that this procedure become training ground for all who follow it. He mapped out a three year intensive program of evangelistic action, which would serve both to guide people and at the same time give than some practical systematic training in this new evangelization. The first of there three intensive years was the year 1997. In this year the Pope conjoined all adult Christians especially Catholics to engage in proclaiming intensively the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Our Lord Jesus Christ in trying to proclaim Him we are also to preach everything that relates to the person of Jesus and so we are to preach (i) the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is the body of Christ. (ii) The Bible, which is the written word of God existing side 71
by side with the incarnate word of God, Jesus. (iii) We are also to preach about the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the Virgin Mother of the incarnate Word. All these are to be taken in one stretch in that first year. That was why that year 1997 was surnamed “THE YEAR OF JESUS CHRIST. The second of the three intensive years was the year 1998, in the evangelistic plan of the Pope; this year was dedicated to proclaiming the Holy Spirit making Him more known by the faithful and the whole world. Documents we published to enable people learn more about the Holy Spirit and assist them proclaim him to the whole creation. That year was in turn surnamed THE YEAR OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The third of the three intensive years was the year 1999. This very year was dedicated to preaching the first preaching the first person of the Blessed Trinity. God the Father. Every adult Christian was to carry to all the nooks and corner of the Earth their preaching about the fatherhood of God taking as their paradigm and special manifestation of God's mercy and fatherhood the parable of the prodigal son. That year in turn was also called THE YEAR OF THE FATHER. In the plan of his Holiness this procedure was to serve as a gradual general practical training on how to preach on the Trinity as well as some of these key mysteries of our faith. All these were meant to be the proximate preparation for the New Evangelization, which was to take on its full force from the beginning of this 3rd Millennium onwards, a time when virtually every adult Christian is expected to be an evangeliser. His Holiness Pope John Paul II also spoke of our bringing into our evangelistic efforts what he called “The Three Great 'Ts” namely: Your Time Your Talent and Your Treasure, He enjoined that where possible one should apply all these three great “Ts” in one's work of evangelization. Where you cannot apply all the three you can employ any two of them. When you cannot apply all the three you can comply any two of them. When even this is also not possible one should apply at least one of the three as one's singular contribution in trying to answer this urgent call to New Evangelization, which leave us with no other option. To fail to apply none of these T's to the work of evangelization would look like taking the position of the famous “wicked servant” who hid his master “one Talent and was of course 72
condemned for it. (Mt. 25:14-30) the truth is that since that 1997 up till now many Christian could be seen to have taken the position of this wicked servant and have remained there through their lack of positive and tangible participation in the work or evangelization inspite of this renewed urgent call of Christ through the Holy Father Pope John Paul II. This synod with all its demands on all of us constitutes therefore a fresh call to all those lagging behind to join in this allimportant race of the New Evangelization.
THE DYNAMICS OF NEW EVANGELIZATION: The dynamics of New Evangelization is one and the same thing as the dynamics of “ACTS II Process” and it consists of 1. Conversion 2. Proclamation 3. Community WHAT IS ACTS II PROCESS? Acts II process is a training technique in evangelization, which takes its orientation from the experience of the apostle in the book of Acts of the Apostles chapter 2. It is a method of Evangelization developed and taught by the Franciscan sisters of the New Covenant Denver Colorado U.S.A. in 1991. Two sisters from this community Sr. Angeline Bukowieeki and Sr. Jan Mattermann came to Nigeria and schooled the co-ordinators of the schools of Evangelization on this programme. Since the many schools of Evangelization have adopted developed and harnessed it. This text of the scripture (Acts 2) clearly demonstrates that they Apostles on the event of Pentecost underwent a profound conversion experience. This Conversion experience radically transformed n the Apostles, changing them from scared timid men (Mt. 26:56; Mk 14:50-52) in to bold courageous ones (Acts 2: 14ff; 4:13, 18-20). Thus disposed the Apostles, fearlessly proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14-36). From the Proclamation issued a Community of believers in the Good News of Jesus Christ to others and the process continued. Thence the three Dynamics or characteristics of Acts Ii process, of the New Evangelization; CONVERSION, PROCLAMATION, and COMMUNITY. The whole issue about New Evangelization and especially about Acts II process hinges on this strong conviction that if we carefully study the detailed process of all that happened in the book of the acts of the apostles chapter 2, and we carefully follow or produce the same process we are likely to re-produce or harness the same fantastic good results in our own evangelization. The apostles were scared, timid and largely uneducated. In strong fear of the aggressive Jews they resorted to intensive payer at the upper room almost helpless about he situation but nevertheless convinced of at least one thing; that their God is the Lord of history and that Jesus Christ is his son, and is able. Now still buried in prayer for diving intervention the holy Spirit descend3d on them and effected in them all the changes they needed to be transformed into bold courageous and effective apostles. They immediately moved out and began to challenge to their faces the Jews who killed Jesus the author of Life. After Peter's 74
ii. NEW IN ZEAL: The kind of zeal, (new zeal) involved in this work of New Evangelization is a charismatic kind of zeal, which was epitomized in Our Lords passionate expression in Luke 12:49 “I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were blazing already”. In John 2:17 when Jesus was working with this zeal in the cleansing of the temple of those who were buying and selling, the apostles could not help remembering the saying in Psalm 69:9 which applied aptly to Jesus: “Zeal for your house will devour me”. Fired with that same hot zeal Jesus gave this enigmatic answer to the Jews who demanded for an explanation why he acted the way he did (with hot zeal): “Destroy this Temple an din 3 days I will rise it up” (Jn, 4:19). This is the kind of zeal that St. Paul was demanding of St. Timothy when in 1 Tim, 4:1-2 he laid on him this solemn charge: “Before God and before Christ Jesus… I put this day on you in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and welcome or unwelcome insist on it… It is only this kind of tenacious zeal that can help us evangelise effectively. iii. NEW IN EXPRESSION: the Holy Father re-echoing the Vatican II Council document, “Evagelium Nuntiandi” reminded us that we should utilize the medium of communication today in announcing Jesus to the world. For instance, music and songs of the day should be used to announce Jesus to the world. Modern man's advancement in print and electronic media Television, Radio, Publications etc should be used profusely in evangelising the world today. All the other modern means of communication not mentioned here like cassette recording s video films pictures, sculptural designs and the like are all included here. Many aspects of cultural heritage can, through inculturation import new ways of expressing our faith for example some cultural dances and artefact in liturgy can constitute new expression of an old truth. All these are what we are called to foster in the New Evangelization. 73
Address (Acts 2: 14-36) the people were so touched that very day about three thousand people got converted to the faith. This is the fantastic big result that forms the target of the New Evangelization and which the training in the Acts II process wishes to achieve in the evangelisers. This New Evangelization Program also strongly believers that lay people trained in the schools of Evangelization can also produce fantastic big results in their own evangelization as the apostles dis. CONVERSION: PROCLAMATION AND COMMUNITY: The detailed study of the contents of these three terms forms the whole corpus of the detailed Training in the How to of the New Evangelization. The scope obviously transcends the confines of this brief presentation. THE GOAL OF NEW EVANGELIZATION The main goal of the New Evangelization is to bring about the formation of an evangelising community within the parish through the networking of small groups whose primary purpose is evangelistic outreach. This is the number one pastoral benefit to the parish, and the number one service that the ACTS II process offers: the formation of the parish into small home groups. (The Small Christian Community SCC). A small hone fellowship is a group of 10 to 20 men or women who meet together at fixed times, at fixed times, to pray over the scriptures together, share their love of Jesus, intercede for the needs of others, help one another when difficulties arise, feast together, mourn together just like the first Christians did in Acts 2 of the Book of Acts. This pastoral method takes the Word of God right down to the grassroots level and brings a “sense of belonging “ tour Christian Catholics. The co-ordinator and pastoral leader, as well as those who receive the evangelization training, have the responsibility to help their parishioners realize and understand that they have been called to evangeliser (Mt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). In decree on the Church's Missionary Activity, no. 35, the bishops have this to say to the people of God: “Since the whole Church is missionary; and the work of evangelization the fundamental task of the people of God, this Sacred Synod invites all to undertake a profound interior renewal so that being vitally conscious of their responsibility for the spread of the Gospel they might play their part in missionary work among the nations.” 75
ACTS II is a response to this call of the bishops and facilitates such an interior renewal through this new formation and training. REFERENCE Oborji, F., Muoraa, C., Oborji F., Manual for Schools of Evangelization 2000, Onitsha, Vicalex (Nig.) Ltd. P.8. The Pentecost Experience, Onitsha, Symae Printing and Design Ltd. 1996, p.1 “The Acts II Method of Evangelization in New Evangelization in Nigeria Onitsha, 1994 p. 45. Acts II: Conversion, Proclamation Community, Vol 3 Obadam. 1992 P. 22-23.
Flannery A. , Vatican Council II (Vol I & II), Dublin, Dominican Publications, 1998.
1.3 The Synod left a legacy not only to the Church in Africa but the entire universal Church. I personally recall that eventful morning when His Grace Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna made his intervention on the floor of the Synod Hall. His title was: “The Church as God's Family”. The Synod then made the Church as God's Family its guiding idea for the evangelization of Africa. For us in Nigeria this image expresses very well what we want the Church to be: care for others and solidarity; warmth in human relationships underlined by numerous rituals and celebrations; generosity and acceptance, dialogue and trust.
Formation of Agents of Evangelization: Nnewi Diocesan Synod, April, 2005. (Paper Presented By Anthony 0. Gbiiji, Bishop of Enugu, 4-4-2005).
INTRODUCTION: 1.1 The rediscovery by the Second Vatican Council, of the institution of the Synod is a blessing in the life of the particular Church or diocese. The Revised Code of Canon Law, 1983, places the Synod as a priority in the internal ordering and structuring of the particular Church to discuss the good of the entire diocesan community and to provide assistance to 'the diocesan bishop who is the sole legislator within the synod (cf. Canons 460 466). The advantage of this forum in the Church is precisely the participation of the clergy and other people who must summoned as members as prescribed in the common law (C. 463). 1.2 The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, called the African Synod was thus inspired by and rooted in the Second Vatican Council of 1962. The desire for an African Synod took shape soon after the Council and was celebrated at the Vatican in April, 1994. It marked a turning point in the evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa. It is the Synod of all other Synods in Africa because it has set the pace for other Synods within Africa for the third millennium. The Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation states that “for all the people in Africa the best preparation for the new millennium must consist in a firm commitment to implement with great fidelity the decisions and orientations presented in the Apostolic Exhortation” (EIA, 141). One important implication from this is that all future Synods and pastoral plans of the Church in Africa must be carried out in the spirit of the African Synod. This is the task you have chosen to do ten years after the African Synod. 77
1.4 The Catholic Church in Nigeria later undertook the task of putting into place model of a Church with the riches and values of the African Synod in the National th Pastoral Congress held in Ibadan from 11 15th November 2002. By our choice of the theme: The Church in Nigeria: Family' of God on Mission, we aimed at building a Church as family that should avoid all tribalism and exaggerated ethnicism; we must encourage reconciliation and true communion between different ethnic groups; favour solidarity and sharing of personnel and recourses among the local Church, without undue ethnic consideration. :' 1.5 It is within the context of the spirit of the above ecclesial event that one would like to celebrate and evaluate your first diocesan synod with the theme: LIVING THE FA1TH IN THE FAMILY OF GOD ON MISSION IN THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI: “That Christ may live in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17). For this, His Excellency Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke has signaled a wish in the prayer for the synod that: “Through this synod, we yearn for Jesus Christ, Your Son, to take hold of our diocese in an all embracing way... May the values of his kingdom form our society into 'God's fearing, just, peaceful, and loving continuities…” We ask the Good Lord to grant your prayers through Christ Our Lord. 1.6 The specific issue you have asked me to address in this paper is: “Formation of Agents of Evangelization” I want to thank sincerely His Lordship and the organizers of this Synod event for inviting me to come and share in the renewal deliberation and experience. I bring with me the ever-fresh experiences of the African Synod 1994 at which I was privileged to participate actively. I had also st the onerous task of being the chairperson of the 1 National Pastoral Congress in Nigeria. It thus became easy for me to prepare and celebrate the Second Enugu Diocesan Synod in 2001. (I present to you the documents and Pastoral Exhortation from that Synod). 78
Moreover, for the past 19 years I have promoted, with some success, on the African Continent New Evangelization and the establishment of schools of Evangelization for the formation agents of Evangelization. The experience at the experiment has been very rewarding and I hope to share with you some of the insights of New Evangelization in a New Era of Evangelization called for by Pope John Paul II, the “great Pontiff' who has been called to the eternal glory. R.I.P. 1.7 For the sake of clarity we shall discuss in this paper: 1. The Pope's challenge to the Christian World to a new Evangelization. 2. Who are the agents of Evangelization to be formed? 3. What type of formation is to be given to the agents of evangelization? 4. How do you form Agents of Evangelization? 5. Who are the FORMATORS of the Agents of Evangelization? .6. Why formation of Agents of Evangelization? 7. Conclusion. THE POPE'S CHALLENGE TO THE CHRISTIAN WORLD TO A NEW EVANGELIZATION: 2.1 it is necessary to understand the special significance of New Evangelization to be able to understand the implications of the theme of this paper. Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit in 1982 to Nigeria challenged our nation to a New Era of Evangelization. He later in 1983, March 9, in Haiti proposed for the universal Church an Evangelization new in its zeal, expression and method (cf. Address to Bishops of CELAM, March 9, 1983). 2.2 NEW ZEAL When we talk of zeal, we call to mind the fervor and spirit of the early apostles especially of St. Paul: woe to me if I do not evangelize. (1 Cor. 9:16). We remember the early missionaries who came to our shores the Whitman's graveover 100 years ago. They toiled, suffered and died out of zeal for the Good News. New zeal underlines the spirituality of the new Catholic evangelization today through a new experience of the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts and minds of evangelizers. Awareness of the Holy Spirit has become more engraved in the consciousness of Catholics than was the case a generation ago. 2.3 Pope John Paul II 1986 published an encyclical, his own personal reflection on the Holy Spirit. Many factors also have deepened our awareness of the Holy Spirit and his role in the Church: historical and biblical studies abound; the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.LA,) with its immediate liturgical link between baptism and confirmation; the three Eucharistic prayers emphasis the 79
role of the spirit in the transformation of bread and, win and the creation of the worshiping community; the broadened appreciation of the many gifts and talents and ministries of the people of God, whose origin is the Holy Spirit (Cor. 12 & 13 Eph. 4:7-12); the understanding of Pentecost, not as the end of the Ester Season, but the culmination of the Easter season, and above all the great impact of the Catholic Christian Movement. In the Scriptures, God's Spirit broods over the waters of creation (Gen. 1:10), drives prophets to speak in the name of the Lord (Is. 61:1-3), anoints kings of Israel to rule with justice (1 Sam. 10:1-6), empowers leaders and judges with wisdom (Num. 11:16-30,). The spirit will come to rest on God's messianic chosen one (Is. 9:1-7): And as a sign of the last days of fulfillment, the spirits will rest on all without discrimination, of sex or rank in society, filling then with hope, visions and dreams of God's reign. (Joel 3:1). 2.4 The New Testament portrays the life giving spirit as initiating the “new creation” though Jesus of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit generates new life in the Virgin Mary, hovers over Jesus at his baptism, sends him out into the desert, anoints him with the task of spreading the Good News about the reign of God. The Spirit's activity in Jesus reaches its fulfillment by raising Jesus from the dead, making him the first fruit of the new creation. Jesus promised to send another counselor or advocate who will keep the community grounded in faith, truth and love. Luke sees the spirit gathering together the disciples, dispersed after the death and resurrection of Christ, uniting them into a community through prayer, interpreting Scripture, sharing the bread and mutual service. The spirit encourages them to live and proclaim the Good News of God's plan and presence in the world, empowering them with wisdom and strength when their message encounters resistance and rejection. That same spirit creates openness in the hearts of those who heard the gospel. “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit.” (I Cor. 12:3). 2.5 Pope Paul VI in E.N. 75 concludes and summarizes all we have said above in these words: “It must be said that the 1-loly Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is he who impels each individual to proclaim the gospel, and it is he who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood. He alone stirs up the new creation, the new humanity of which evangelization is to be the result ... Through the Holy Spirit the gospel penetrates to the heart of the world, for it is he who causes people to discern the signs of the times signs willed by God which evangelization reveals and puts to use within history. 80
2.6 NEW EXPRESSION New Evangelization is characterized by new expressions and strategies. Statistics show that three are about 970 million Catholics in the world today. Less than 2% are clergy and religious, over lay people. The main strategy and thrust of New Evangelization are to train the lay people, known as the sleeping, giants in our Church, and mobilizing them for evangelization. Each and every one of the baptized is called to be a herald of the gospel. “From eternity God has though of us and loved us as individuals. Every one of us he calls by name (Christ Fideles Laiei (CFL) No. 58). In the parable of the vineyard, the world is seen as an immense vineyard that must be transformed according to the plan of God in view of the definitive coming of the kingdom of God. The words of the parable, “you go into my vineyard too” are seen as the call of the Lord Jesus to all Christians, both men and women, young and old to go and work in this vineyard. (CF. Mt. 20). 2.7 Evangelization is not only a call but also the mission and mandate to every Christ's faithful believer, “Go therefore proclaim the Good News, and make disciples of the whole world (Matt. 28:19-20); Mk. 16:15),” is a familiar text that New Evangelization takes rather seriously. New evangelization hopes, during this third millennium to equip every Christian with the spirituality and skill to bring the Good News to all people in every nation. The efforts of evangelization are all out to achieve this and have to a great extent succeeded in doing so. The two world retreats for priests in 1985 and 1990; above all the numerous daily emerging Schools and programmes of evangelization are efforts to prepare, equip and mobilize the laity for conquering the world for Christ. Along this line is the strategy to use the families, youth, parish cells, the small Christian communities as well as inculturation of the Christian message in the values, customs and the specific ways of life of the people, in giving new expression, to evangelization in our time. 2.7 NEW METHODS New Evangelization is largely based on the word of God in the Scriptures. It encourages every Christian to study the Scriptures, pray with it and allow God's Word to touch their lives. We are discovering once more the empowering capacity of the Bible for evangelization. In Evangelii Nuntiandi (6-14) Pope Paul VI outlined a sketch of the essential biblical foundation for making evangelization part and parcel of our Christian formation today. 1. It must be associated with the mission of Jesus himself as portrayed in the gospels; 2. It proclaims human liberation, especially from sin and its effects. 81
3. Those who are evangelized are to be identified with the “Kingdom” of God. 4. It requires untiring effort, even suffering. 5. It builds a community, the Church, which is one with Jesus as evangelizer. 2.8 Evangelization 2000 and Lumen 2000 promote and articulate the use of Mass Communication media for evangelization. We live in an age of mass communication through the press, radio, television, the cinema, video and radio cassettes and other like media. These exert a far reaching influence for good and evil on the entire society: the family, schools, church, political, and economic institutions. In E.N. 45 Pope Paul V has this to say: “Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means...” 3. THE NEED FOR A NEW EVANGELIZATION: 3.1 Times and situations have changed in the modern society. The evaluation of the whole situation particularly in Nigeria shows the weakness of the Catholic Church. Many of our Catholics are not committed Christians. Our Churches are full on Sundays; the confessionals are besieged every weekend; our altars are crowded with communicants. By and large, idolatry is still a problem very much with us. It shows itself in many forms of superstitious beliefs and practices, fear of witchcraft and charms. Many Catholics would run to the priest for Mass in the morning and go to the spiritual churches and the fortune-tellers in the evening. In this regard the Church in Nigeria is addressing itself seriously in inculturation. The family life is being eroded by evil currents Family planning through artificial methods is heavily subsidized by the government 3.2 There is unrest among youths who are alienated from their homes roaming the streets of the cities for jobs that are not there! This causes dissatisfaction, insecurity arid frustration. Children, therefore, tend to revolt against their parents and constituted authority. Young boys and girls are targets of proselytizing religious sects and political ideologies. Our society has become too secularistic and materialistic Religion is commercialized. The youth fall easy prey to bad and corruptive influences. They cannot find fulfillment and meaning in life. They are not spiritually equipped and so there is at present a disturbing wave of sects, moral laxity, robbery and killing and gross indiscipline in our society. Besides, the future of the Church and State is precarious and uncertain 82
3.3 The new times demand that the Christian message reach people today through new methods of apostolate arid that it be expressed in languages and forms that are accessible to the men and women of our world who need Christ and thirst for the gospel. We are challenged to make accessible, penetrating, valid and deep the response to people today without in any way altering or changing the content of the gospel message. We must reach the heart of the cultures that we want to evangelize. The task to find new methods and expressions to bring Christ and the gospel to our world becomes more impelling. There is an urgent need for a New Evangelization 4 THE DYNAMICS OF NEW EVANGELIZATION: 4. 1 According to Pope John Paul II Evangelization must be new in zeal in method and expression. Three major elements are underlined: CONVERSION PROCLAMATION AND COMMUNITY. These are clearly enunciated in the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi (cf. EN. Nos' I -24) Other necessary and important elements are mentioned CONVERSION: 4. 2. Conversion, a metanoia, or total change of heart is the first requirements of New Evangelization. It calls to a deeper personal relationship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit; knowing God and being known by him. The evangeliser is called to an authentic witness of life commitment. Either tactic or aloud, but always forcefully we are being asked: Do you really believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you really preach what you live. The witness of life has become more than ever an essential condition for real effectiveness in preaching (Ev. NunI. 76). Vatican II says that our evangelizing zeal must spring from true holiness of life, preaching must in turn make the preachers grow in holiness, which is nourished by prayer and above all by the love of the Eucharist (P.O. I 3). The world calls for and expects from evangelizers: simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self sacrifice (Ev. Nunt. 76). To achieve this conversion, which is an ongoing event in the Christian life, there is need for constant spiritual exercises, daily study and reflection on the scriptures, fervent prayer and of course frequent reception of the Sacraments especially of reconciliation and the Eucharist. 83
PROCLAMATION: 4.3 The second dynamic of New Evangelization is proclamation: when one discovers Christ in that intimate personal relationship, there arises an urge to tell others about Christ. It is like discovery a pearl of great value; one feels impulsively to share it with others. St. Paul says this very forcefully when he writes; “I reckon nothing can… outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Jesus and be given a place in him... All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:8-10). Continuing he says: After this personal knowledge of Jesus and the power of Jesus: he made that beautiful assertion: “At the name of Jesus every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: .JESUS CHRIST IS LORD” (Phil. 1:1 0-11). “There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which they are to be saved” (Acts, 4:12). Thus, Christ is to be proclaimed as an ultimate value. COMMUNITY: 4.4. When Christ is proclaimed either to groups or to individuals there grows a community of believers. One of the dynamics of New Evangelization is the COMMUNITY Acts 2:42-47. There is a great emphasis therefore on setting up Christian Communities where persons pray together, share in the doctrine of the Church, the Scriptures and share common goods and above all celebrate and share the Eucharist. New Evangelization, above all, emphasizes the need to evangelize into the Catholic Church thus building the Church as God's Kingdom of love, justice and peace. (Ev. Nunt 27, 32 etc). Our African culture of family life and the extended family groups offer a lot o opportunity to build small Christian Communities that could evangelize themselves and others (Ev Nunt 7 I) Thus, the family and evangelization are intimately connected New Evangelization builds up the family and families promote evangelisation. We must see the Church as a Family. This concept of church as FAMILY has strongly emerged from the 1994 African Synod. THE POWER OF HOLY SPIRIT IN EVANGELIZATION 4 5. Evangelization, conversion and renewal are the actions of the Holy Spirit without his inspiration and strengthening assistance, we can neither do nor 84
achieve anything. The Holy Spirit is called by Pope Paul VI the “Principal Agent” without whose action evangelization is impossible (cf Evangelii Nuntiandi No 75). The Scriptures have abundantly proved this, Jesus himself said “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor” (Lk. 4 :18, Is 63: 1-2) In preparation for his role as precursor of the Messiah, John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spiri1 from his mother's womb (Lk. 1 :15) On Pentecost morning the Apostles were “all filled with the Holy Spirit,” and only afterwards made the “bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted” that converted 3000 on the spot (Acts 2:4,2:4,41). Paul became Apostle of the Gentiles after Ananias laid hand upon him and prayed that he “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9 17) Before Pentecost, the Apostles were united by a fear that left them cowering. After Pentecost they were united by a determination to face even torture and death to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to the end of time. We must be led not by “a Spirit of timidity but a spirit of power” (2 Tim 1: 7) The Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the Father's promise” You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you” Then you will be my witness “Yes even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1 4,8) MARY AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION 4.6. On the World Mission Day, Pentecost Sunday, May 22, 1988, Pope John Paul II invited all members of the people of God to reflect “on a particular aspect of evangelization namely: the presence of Mary in the universal mission of the Church. She is present as the “Star of Evangelization” in order to guide and console the heralds of the Gospel and to support in faith the new Christian communities which have come into being through tile missionary proclamation” She, in fact, is the first evangelizer, she brought the unborn child Jesus to Elizabeth and John. PRAYER FOR NEW EVANGELIZATION: 4.7. “Except the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps.127). The first and best reason to pray for evangelization is that Jesus instructed us to do so. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers to gather his harvest”(Mt. 9:36-38). At the last supper we hear Jesus expressing his evangelistic prayer: “Father, I have made your name known to those you gave me... I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent 85
them… I do not pray for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word” (in. 17:621). St. Paul the great imitator of Jesus Christ also prayed thus: “pray for me that God might put his words on my lips, that I may courageously make known the mystery of the Gospel... Pray that I have courage to proclaim it as I ought” (Eph. 6:19-20 cf 11. 1). We are therefore called to pray for the success of the New Evangelization SCHOOL OF EVANGELIZATION 4.8. These are very important for the formation of Agents of Evangelization. All agents of proclamation must be trained in the spirituality, doctrinal, biblical, and in pastoral skills and techniques of New Evangelization. Schools of evangelization are very important because: I. They offer a response to Christ's command that his disciples proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15). 2. They are a very concrete way to foster the Church's primary and universal mission of Evangelization (EN 14). 3. They offer a positive response to the constant call of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for a New Evangelization in our time (RM 3, 86, 92, etc) 4. They are a most welcome tool to Bishops in their search for ways to train Catholic Evangelizers 5. They are an encouragement for other Church leaders to direct their zeal and talent towards the task of training and preparing God's missionary people, as well as all future Priests and Religious, for their first task of evangelization (cf. Ad Gentes, 35, Evangelii Nuntiandi 59). 6. They are besides a positive way to respond to the attacks of fundamentalist sects, aimed at undermining the faith of Catholics through tracts and the media. 7. Schools of Evangelization are very important indeed as they are awakening the sleeping giants of the Church namely the unmobilized 99.9% lay members; an encouragement and challenge to the hierarchy and clerics, so few, old, overworked, and tired, too afraid of the radical change called for by the Holy Father Pope John Paul II in New Evangelization. BIBLICAL APOSTOLATE: 4. 9. New Evangelization lays great emphasis on the word of God in the Scriptures. It encourages every Christian to study the Scriptures, pray with it, and allow God's Word to touch their lives. We are discovering once more the 86
empowering capacity of the Bible for evangelization. In Evangclii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI outlined a sketch of the essential biblical foundation for making evangelization part and parcel of our Christian formation today (ci EN 6 .6-14): 1. It must be associated with the mission of Jesus himself as portrayed in the gospel. 2 It proclaims human liberation, especially from sin and its effects MASS MEDIA AND NEW EVANGELIZATION 4. I0. There has been a tremendous upsurge of interest in Social Communication within the Church since Vatican II Decree: Inter Mirifica (1963); Communio et Progressio (197 I) (Ev Nunt. 1975, 45); guide for training future Priest in the mass media (1986). The Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983 deals with Social Communication in Canons 822 -832 It is abundantly obvious today that the means of social communication - the press, radio, television, the cinema the video and radio cassettes and other like media exert a far-reaching influence for good or evil on the entire society: the family, School, Church, political, and economic institution. NEW EVANGELIZATION encourages a generous cooperation among Catholics, and utilizes all forms of Social Communications to bring the Good News of JESUS CHRIST to the ends of the earth EUCHARISTIC DEVOTION AND NEW EVANGELIZATION 4. 11. New Evangelization is centred on the Eucharist, which is the fount, the centre and apex of the whole Christian Life (LG 11). It promotes daily participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice and worthy reception of the Holy Body of Christ and the adoration of the Lord himself in this great sacrament of his love. The perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament naturally grows out of any evangelizing and evangelized community. Your Synod coming as it were during the year of the Eucharist is a gift from God WHO ARE THE AGENTS OF EVANGELISATION TO BE FORMED? 5. 1. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuiitaiai,di, Pope Paul VI says that 'the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church... Evangelising is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelise” (E.N. 14). B Born of the evangelizing mission of Jesus and the Twelve, she is in turn sent forth “Depository of the Good News to be proclaimed...having been sent and evangelized, the Church herself sends out evangelizers. She puts on their lips the saving Word (E.Nunt., 1 5). Like the Apostle of the Gentiles, the Church can say: 87 5.
“ I preach the Gospel… for necessity is laid on me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (I Cor. 9: 16). “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15). Such is the mandate that the Risen Christ, before returning to his Father, to his Apostles: “And they went forth and preached everywhere” (Mk. 16:20). This is the Church's Mission and it is a mandate for ALL. In the family of God everyone has to be an evangeliser. In the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, every Christian has been sent out to bring the Good News where God has put him or her. The African Synod challenges each group in the Church to live fully their baptism and commit themselves to evangelization. Which are these groups? THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY 5.2. Among the agents of evangelization, the Christian family takes the primary and first place. The African Synod calls the African Christian Family: i. A privileged place of witnessing the Gospel; ii. A 'true domestic Church'; iii. A community, which believes and evangelises; iv. A community in dialogue with God; v. The first cell of the living Christian Community and of society; vi. A school of the gospel and social virtues; vii. Parents are by their word and examples the first messengers of the faith for their children. The father of the family, the mother, the children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized by receiving the sacraments, by prayer and thanksgiving and by the witness of a holy life, self-denial and active charity. Thus the home is the first school for Christian life and human growth. viii. Because of the enormous change in society, African families face great political, economic, social, and cultural difficulties, the challenge is to adopt the positive values of modern life and a the same time to keep the essential values of the African family. The family is not to be closed in on itself, but open to other families and to society. The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family. . . .This is why the synod considered the evangelization of the African family a major priority, if the family is to assume in its turn the role of active subject or agent in view of the evangelization of families through families. SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES 5.3. The Small Church Communities are the place where the Church as Family is experienced. Christian Communities must become evangelizing 88
communities. There are the parishes, Pious Associations of Sodalities and Societies in the Church. They should be communities, which are engaged in evangelizing themselves so that afterwards they can bring the Good News to others; communities, which pray together and listen to God's word; take on responsibilities and learn to live as Church by reflecting on their different human problems in the light of the Gospel and also celebrate the Eucharist. The parish small groups become the focal point of all evangelisation outreach after the parishioners complete the training; the trained parish evangelizers emerge. Here people are trained to assume some degree of responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of their brothers and sisters in the Faith. THE LAITY 5.4 The lay people in our Church form over 99% of Christ's faithful believers. By baptism they are all called to evangelise. Evangelisation is the work of each individual Christian. “Go make disciples of all nations”. Our Laity are not yet awakened to this command of Jesus. The “sleeping giant” as they are called of our continent must be awakened. The result could be very pleasant and formidable. Pope Paul VI in Evangelisation in the Modern World said: Lay People... exercise a very special form of evangelisation. Their own field of evangelisation is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics.., it also includes other realities which are open to evangelisation such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional works, suffering...” (Ev. Nunt. 70). 5.6. There is a growing awareness of the fundamental equality of all the baptized. Consequently, a reorganization that lay people are called to holiness in daily transactions of their lives. All agree that the Laity shares with the Clergy and Religious one Christian spirituality. The need is felt in our society today that the Layperson should be fervent and committed to Christ. In general, the Laity feel themselves called to work with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for its growth and life, by exercising a great variety of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord is pleased to give them (cf. Ev. Nunt. 73; Rm 72). THE CATECHISTS 5.7 Catechists will ever remain a powerful force in the implantation and expansion of the Church in Africa. The Catechists are held in great esteem for their participation in missionary activities and for their characteristics, which are rarely found in ecclesial communities outside the mission. According to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: “Their number continues to grow and in recent years has been between 250,000 and 350,000. For many 89
missionaries they have been absolutely indispensable, serving as their close assistants and at times interpreters. They have often been able to keep the faith of a community alive during trying periods, and their families have given priestly and religious vocations. (I am happy and proud to be numbered among the children of Catechists). 5.8 Pope John Paul II paid a glowing tribute to them during his pastoral visit to Angola: “So many times it has fallen to you to strengthen and build up the young Christian Communities, and even region of the world, do not cease to put questions to Christ as they meet him and keep searching for him in order to question him further... The Lord himself renews his invitation to all lay faithful (and the youth) to come closer to him every day, and to associate themselves with him in his saving mission. Seminarians as other youth are agents of evangelisation. PRIESTS 5.9. As co-workers of the Bishops, priests are called by virtue of the Sacrament of Orders to share intimately in concern for the Church's mission. The spiritual gifts that priests have received in ordination prepares them, not for any narrow or limited mission, but for more universal and all embracing mission of salvation to the end of the earth (R.M. 67). DEACONS 5. 10. What has been said about the priests is applicable to the deacons of the Church. Deacons are united with their Bishops and assist them because of the communion, which has its source in the Sacrament of Orders and in the charity of the Church. (Ev. Nunt. 68). BISHOPS 5.1 1. The Bishops together with the Pope are directly responsible for the evangelisation of the world both as members of the College of Bishops and as Pastors of the particular Churches and must f concern for all the churches. Bishops by their office as witnesses of Christ before all people, have an irreplaceable service of unity in charity and should work with the priests and other pastoral workers in the spirit of trust. They carry the responsibility of teaching, sanctifying and governing the family of God (R.M.). 5. I 2. Each Bishop too, as Pastor of a particular Church has a wide-ranging duty. It falls to him as the ruler and centre of unity in the diocesan apostolate to promote, direct and coordinate it. He must see to it that apostolic activity is not 90
limited only to those who are already converted, but that a lair share both of personnel and funds be devoted to the evangelisation of nonChristians. It is thus the Bishop who will discern, inspire, motivate, and put into action all the activities to foster a dynamic work of evangelisation in his diocese MISSIONARIES AND INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE 5. 13. All these groups of agents of evangelisation already mentioned, included all Christ's faithful believers The Religious men and women are also included as they are either clerics or the laity According to His Holiness Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical Letter “Redemptoris Missio:” “Now, as in the past, among those involved in the missionary apostolate a place of fundamental importance is held by the persons and institutions to whom the Decree Ad Genies devotes the special chapter entitled: “Missionaries” (A. G 23-27). This requires careful reflection, especially on the part of missionaries themselves, who may be led, as a result of changes occurring within the missionary field, no longer to understand the meaning of their vocation and no longer to know exactly what the Church expects of them today. Missionaries must always meditate on the response demanded by the gift they have received and continually keep their doctrinal and apostolic formation tip to date” (R M 65). Institutes of Consecrated Life, whose members, “because of the dedication to the service of the Church deriving from their very consecration, have an obligation to play a special part in missionary activity in a manner appropriate to their Institute” (A. G 40). History witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by Religious Families in the spread of the faith and the formation of new Churches” (R M 69) 6. WHAT TYPE OF FORMATION IS TO BE GIVEN TO THE AGENTS OF EANGELISA1ION 6.1. In its message on 6 May 1994, the Synod of Bishops, Special Assembly for Africa, underlines that all engaged in evangelisation, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, catechists and the laity need to be trained for evangelisation. In all areas of Church life, formation is extremely important. People who have never had the chance to learn cannot really know the truths of faith, nor can they do what they have never been taught. The whole community needs to be trained, motivated and empowered for evangelisation, each according to his or her specific role within the Church. This includes Bishops, priests, religious and all the lay faithful. The formation programme will stress the training of the lay people, so that they will, fully exercise their role of inspiring the temporal order 91
and political, cultural, economic and social with Christian principles. This is the specific task of the laity's vocation in the world. 6.2. The question is: what type of formation for evangelisation should be given to Bishops, Priests, the Religious who have already undergone thorough and tedious years of formation in the Seminary or the religious formation houses. It may sound curious that a Bishop needs formation to evangelise. I and some other bishops have done the formation course with rich experience and good results. I express gratitude to Evangelisation 2000 and to ICPL Malta. for the laity one could propose some type of theological formation as programmed in our seminaries. But what we are saying is that the seminary formation does not adequately prepare one for evangelisation. This is becoming more and more obvious with a clear teachings and emphasis of the Holy Father on a NEW EVANGELISATION New in zeal, new in expressions and new in method. Numerous schools of Evangelisation have emerged today and each tends to offer an answer to our question. From my personal contact over these 19 years with Schools of Evangelisation in the continents of Africa, Europe, Asia and America, the ACTS II PROCESS of evangelisation clearly underlines the type of formation needed today, for all agents of Evangelisation. The necessary and general characteristics of all schools of evangelisation are: CONVERSION, PROCLAMATION and COMMUNITY. This conclusion is drawn from a careful study and appraisal of the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi (Ev. Nunt Nos. I8 -24) This has also been powerfully confirmed and systematized by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki in the most valuable series of ACTS II manuals now popularly used in most schools in Africa, Asia and Europe. We pause to reflect on these characteristics. CONVERSION 6.3. Metanoia: - Greek, means a radical conversion and profound change of heart and mind. This is the goal of all evangelisation. Schools of Evangelisation bring those evangelised to a profound conversion experience and a personal relationship with our living Lord and Saviour (Lk. 1 8). This conversion must first be experienced by the evangeliser himself (cf. En. Nunt. 10). The first lesson in any School of Evangelisation is learning how to love. This is important because evangelizers are bearers of the Good News that God's love surpassing all others can be experienced personally. Evangelisers lead others to the forgiving healing love; by the way they love more than by the things they have to say about love. When others are led in this way to experience God's love for themselves, the great change called conversion takes place. 92
6.4. This personal conversion includes character transformation that is both fully human and supernatural. It is deeply spiritual, drawn from the intimate religious experience of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit working powerfully in the life of the evangelisers. This is achieved through an emphasis on personal and communal liturgical prayer, as well as through the teaching and fostering of a Christian life that is Biblical, sacramental and service oriented in both the Spiritual and material realm. Conversion is also intellectual through a Biblical Theological formation based on the rich spiritual, intellectual, and historical heritage of the Catholic Church; through the appreciation of Catholic traditions, such as our loving relationship to Mary. The mind of the Evangeliser is always loyal and faithful to and guided by the teaching magisterium of the Church rather than by the highly personalized or opinions of selective doctrinal teachings of theologians and experts. PROCLAMATION 6. 5. In Schools of evangelisation, formation needs to be caught not taught. This means that every school must be a model of what it proclaims. Potential evangelisers must be challenged not only to announce the Good News, but also to be Good News through love and hospitality they practice. Christian hospitality shown to family, relatives, friends, and co-workers, in the words of Pope Paul Vi, stirs up irresistible question in the hearts of those who experience it “Why do you live in this way What or Who is it that inspires you? (E. N 21). 6. 6. As in the case of the Apostles (Acts 2: 37-42), their conversion experience radically transformed them, changing them from being seated men into bold and courageous men (Acts 2: 35; 4: 13, 18-20). The result of their conversion experience was the proclamation of the Good News. So, also, when one discovers Christ in that intimate personal relationship, and a profound conversion experience takes place, it arouses an urge to tell others about it and to share with other. St Paul expresses his own experience very forcefully when he writes “1 reckon nothing can outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and i look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Jesus and be given a place in him…All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection”. COMMUNITY 6.7. When Christ is proclaimed to groups or to individuals and the Good News is listened to, accepted and assimilated, it arouses genuine adherence in the one who has just received it. This adherence is to truths, which the Lord has revealed; still more, an adherence to a programme of a new way of living in a 93
community, which the Gospel inaugurates (Acts 2:43-47; EN 23), there grows a community of believers. This is a model for all Small Christian Communities A A MISSIONARY FORMATION 6.8. With special reference to the diocesan priests the Second Vatican Council insists that the formation of candidates to the priesthood must aim at giving them “the true Catholic Spirit, whereby they will learn to transcend the bounds of their own diocese, country or rite, and come to the aid of the whole Church in readiness to preach the Gospel anywhere. All priests must have the mind and heart of missionaries open to the needs of the Church and the World...” (P.O. 10; Op. Tot. 20). 7. HOW DO YOU FORM AGENTS OF EVANGELIZATION? 7.1. The Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christian Fideles Laici (Nos. 45 - 46) and the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio (Nos. 71-74) teach that lay people are to be trained for their mission through suitable centres and schools of biblical and pastoral formation. Similarly, Christians who occupy positions of responsibility are to be carefully prepared for political, economic, and social tasks by means of a solid formation in the Church's social doctrine, so that in their places of work they will be faithful witnesses to the Gospel 7.2. For a very long time the Catholic Schools, Universities, Seminaries and Formation Houses as well as the parishes have been the main centres of formation of the evangelizers. Within the past two decades Schools and Programmes of Evangelisation have emerged and are still proliferating all over the African Continent. Six types of such Schools and programmes exist today: The residential and non-residential schools. . The residential schools could last from 1 year to 4 years or 1 month to 4 months. Residential School usually trains trainers. By and large, most schools are non residential and are either parish-based or weekend seminar Schools. Minischools organize very short-term training programme to train people for outreaches. These could be residential or non-residential. 7.3. In Enugu, Nigeria, an International Institute of Evangelisation (SPIIEE) for higher Theological Formation for laypersons and non-clerical religious men and women has been established and went into operation in October 2001. It is intended to offer a 4-year Diploma and Degree courses in Theology. It is our hope to have it granted a Status of a Pontifical University, and of course, it has been affiliated to a University in Nigeria. 94
7.4 In all the Schools and Programmes of Evangelisation including the International Institute for Evangelisation in Enugu, the curriculum should include: 1. A formation in Missionary Spirituality. 2. A Doctrinal Formation 3. A Biblical Formation. 4. Methods and Techniques of Evangelization. 5. Human Development Skills in Evangelization. These courses can be packaged and introduced into our seminaries and Higher Institutes of Formation. This may help to eliminate or, to some measure, minimize the problem of looking for funds to maintain welltrained lay evangelisers who are Fully employed by the Church. It will also complement the inadequate formation in our Seminaries that send out priest without a missionary spirituality or adequate skills for the ministry. 8 WHO ARE THE FORMATORS OF THE AGENTS OF EVANGELIZATION? 8. 1. The process of formation of agents of evangelization is complex but not complicated. The Holy Spirit is the Principal Agent of Evangelization. It is important to gain a new appreciation of the spirit of the One who builds the Kingdom of God and prepares its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. He stirs people's hearts and quickens in our world the seed of the full salvation, which will come at the end of time. Evangelisation, conversion and renewal are actions of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit “anoints” the baptized, sealing each with an indelible character, and constituting each as a spiritual temple, that is, he fills this temple with the holy presence of God as a result of which each person is united and likened to Jesus Christ. With this spiritual “unction”, Christians can repeat in an individual way the words of Jesus: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor”. (Lk. 8:18-19; Is. 61:1). Thus with outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in baptism and confirmation, tile baptized share in the mission of Jesus as the Christ, the Saviour Messiah. “Indeed the Church is directed and guided by the Holy Spirit, who lavishes diverse hierarchical and charismatic gifts on all baptized, calling them to be, each in an individual way, active and responsible”. The Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the Father's promised: “you will receive power when the spirit comes down on you. Then you will be my witnesses... yes even to the end of the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4,8). 95
8.2. All other agents as formators are secondary: The B1ess Virgin Mary is the formator, the model and the Star of every evangeliser. She moulds each one with her maternal hands after the image of her beloved Son, Jesus. The College of Bishops headed by the Pope, Successor of Peter are ever solicitous for the Formation and the sending forth of worthy missionaries for evangelisation (RM. 63). Each particular Church, the diocese, the Bishop, the priests and the faithful laypersons are all responsible for the formation of the evangeliser (RM. 64). Missionaries and Religious Institutes of Consecrated life for Missio Ad Genies play important roles in the formation of their member before sending them forth to the mission (RM. 65). 8.3. The parish and the Small Christian Communities and the Christian Homes and Families are schools where evangelizers are formed by their spiritual, moral and sometimes financial support. Finally, the evangeliser himself by his faithful response to the voice of God calling him and to the inspirations and promptings of the Holy Spirit and cooperation with the Grace of God tops the list of all other. 9. WHY FORMATION OF AGENTS OF EVANGELISATION? 9. 1. This last question cannot fail to act as a great motivation in the arduous task of forming agents of evangelisation in our diocese. When we look at the new situation on our country, many questions confront the Church in Nigeria today: How can we make our Christians authentic Christians effectively equipped to become credible and faithful witnesses to the Gospel message of faith, hope, and love? What are the ways and means of evangelizing mission in the New Millennium? How can we transplant the gospel message of justice, truth, fraternity, forgiveness and peace to our culture, to our community, to the people of other faiths and to the world of the modern means of social communications. Our nation faces many difficulties, crisis and conflicts, which bring about much suffering and misery. In a land ravaged by poverty, bad governance and social tragic mismanagement of few available resources and where diseases especially HIV/AIDS continue to claim the lives of many! How can the Christian message of hope, peace, joy, harmony, love, and unity become Good News for the people in a continent of Bad news! 9.2. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II lifts up our hearts with hope by his words of encouragement in his Post synodal Apostolic Exhortation, the Church in Africa when he said: “indeed, this continent is today experiencing what we can call a sign of the times, a day of salvation. It seems that the 'hour of Africa' has 96
come, a favourable time which urgently invites Christ's messengers to launch out into the deep for a catch” (cf. Lk. 5:4; E.A. N° 6.). This can be applied to your diocese. In the New Millennium there is the great need to proclaim Christ to our people with fresh enthusiasm with which the early Christians were able to overcome strong opposition to plant the faith in the hearts of men and women... The Church cannot forgo the missionary mandate, which she received from the Lord, since it is by announcing that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and Life (Jn. 14:6) that the people will be saved. He challenges us to look to the future with commitment to a new evangelisation, one that is new in its favour, new in its methods and new in its expressions (Haiti, Nov. 14, 1986). 9.3. The task of evangelizing all peoples is the most important mission of the Church. Evangelising is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. Because in the world there are millions who are not yet evangelized, the Church is faced with the necessary and urgent task of proclaiming the Good News to all, and leading those who hear it to baptism and the Christian life. We are challenged therefore to learn and properly be equipped with the spirituality, the content and the skills and method of bringing the Good News to these millions. 9. 4. There is a strong and growing element among the laity today as one listens to their life's stories and testimonies. Many want to share their faith experiences and what God has done in their lives with others in order to inspire them to values and to hope in something that is not seen. We discover in our lay people a deep seated urge and drive to go beyond pious practice and “silent witnessing” of good Christian living to an open proclamation of the Good News to others. Many still ask: How do I do it'? Preach! I am not a priest. And above all preach on the street! Is it a Catholic way? There is need to train our people today to do all this - to preach on the street and evangelise. 9.5. Many fundamentalist sects are increasing in the towns of our dioceses. They aim at undermining our Catholic faith particularly of the youth through tracts and the media. The only positive way lay people can be prepared to answer to those who ask for reasons for the hopes that they have is to train them to evangelize (cf I Pt 3 15). This way we shall succeed in arresting the exodus of our youth to other Pentecostal Churches and this is a task that must be done urgently. The youth are the future of the world and the Church. Christ expects great things from young people, as he did to the young man who asked him “What good must 97
I do to have eternal life” (Mt. 19: 16). The Church has so much to talk about with the youth in our diocese. We must sustain the dialogue. We cannot afford to loose them or else we also loose the future of the world and the Church. 10. CONCLUSION 10. 1. Let us conclude this lengthy but very important discussion in this paper by borrowing two paragraphs from your Instrumentum Laboris (Nos. 44 45) “Given that the responses to the Lineamenta drew attention in a striking way to the importance of the formation of agents of evangelization, Schools of Evangelization should be established within the Diocese or in each Region as the case may be, and evangelical team set up, made up of members trained in the Schools of Evangelization. These agents of evangelization should be formed according to one's specific vocation and in the faith of early missionaries.” “Since the shallow-mindedness with regard to the deposit of full, leads the people to believe whatever, (they hear or read,) the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi should adopt a formation strategy that assures strong doctrinal foundation in the seminarians, institutions, schools and in other places of instruction. The member of the Family of God should be formed to be able to face squarely the difficulties in the life of faith and moral according to the teaching of the Catholic Church.” 1 0.2. I ask you to remember all that we have tried to present to you in this paper on forming Agents of Evangelisation. They are of vital importance to your arduous task of establishing and running schools and programmes of evangelization. If this paper has been of any help to you, Praise the Lord! 10.3. May Mary, Star of Evangelisation guide you in your wonderful efforts to bring the Good News of Jesus Her Son to the new vibrant Catholic Diocese of Nnewi in the New Millennium. God bless you and may the Holy Spirit guide and direct you in all the deliberations during this Synod. +Anthony O. Gbuji Bishop of Enugu 4 April, 2005
Consecrated Life in the Service of Communion in the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese
A Talk Presented By Mother Mary Joseph Ann Anochie, Ihm Superior General of The Sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, Nigeria to the Participants of the First Nnewi Diocesan Synod at Eziora - Ozubulu On 3 - 10th April 2005.
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, praise be to Jesus Christ now and forever Amen. A very merry Easter to you all. First of all, I must thank His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Odili Okeke and the organizers of this Synod immensely for giving me this wonderful opportunity of sharing with you today. I regard it as a singular privilege and I am deeply grateful to you. May God bless and reward each one of you. When His Lordship spoke to me about this talk on 10 March 2005. I was taken aback and felt like declining because my 8-days annual retreat was beginning the very next day and subsequent days were packed full. But, how can I decline an opportunity to speak on the very life I live, so I decided to do what I can within the limited time available to me. Therefore my talk does not pretend to exhaust the topic but to set the ball rolling for others to continue. 99
INTRODUCTION Consecrated Life is the, mode of Christian life followed by various religious families in the Church. In this Nnewi Diocese you have a good number of them e.g Spiritan Fathers, Claretian Fathers, Brothers of St. Stephen, Clarissan Missionary Sisters, Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, Immaculate Heart Sisters, Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy, Daughters of Divine Love, Benedictine Nuns here in Ozubulu and many others. This way of life is a gift of God the Father to His Church through the Holy Spirit and is deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ. (-f V.C 1) It is a gift the Church has never lacked (cf P.C 1, V.C 31) a gift to foster communion of states (cf V. C 31) a gift to make significant communion for mutual relations and collaborative ministry (cf V.C 53 & 74) a gift in the Mystery.of the Church (cf V.C47,) a gift of special value (cf V.C 32, 51) that proves communion among different institutes (cf V.C 54). First, all Christians are consecrated by virtue of our Baptism and are all called to holiness, to be holy (cf L.G. No. 39). In this sense we are all consecrated, but my talk will centre on the life of those mentioned religious families in Nnewi Diocese, that is, the special life of holiness of life expected of those Priests, Brothers and Sisters in Nnewi Diocese. Christ was fully aware that even among His Christians, the faith of many is enhanced only by seeing visible fruit of His existence in fellow human beings and that His people need examples of self control, dedication, zeal and selflessness if they are going to lead virtuous and holy lives. So, within this universal call for holiness in His Church, Christ picked and called a few to BE with Him, to REMAIN with Him in a stable manner, to GIVE themselves TOTALLY to Him without reserve and KNOW Him intimately through prayer and communion of life, to SHARE with Him the divine call for the establishment of God's kingdom. By so doing, He communicates His Spirit to them so that they become gradually transformed in Him and share from within His way of LIVING, LOVING, THINKING AND ACTING.' By professing the evangelical counsels people see in them the characteristic features of Jesus the chaste, poor and obedient one. As a result, in the midst of the world, the eyes of the faithful are directed/turned towards the mystery of the kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven. (cf V.C I) So we understand consecrated life as a CALL within a call. It was unfortunate that when the indigenous Congregations were first founded, in this area, the stress was laid on social services to meet the immediate demands of 100
the Local Church. By then, education, medical and charitable works seemed exclusively the work of the Church. But now that our people have been uplifted through education, some lay people can carry out those responsibilities just as well and even more efficiently than religious at times. On account of this, consecrated life went into crisis of identity since people began to question the role or function of the religious, which is exclusively theirs this time, surely the people of God in Nnewi Diocese are not exempt from this questioning. THE ROLE AND CONTRIBUTION OF CONSECRATED LIFE IN THE FAMILY OF GOD IN NNEWI DIOCESE The primary role of consecrated people or religious in the universal Church and in the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese in particular is to live a life of HOLINESS in a RADICAL way after the example of Christ. Therefore their role does not consist primarily in services like teaching, nursing, catechising or social works but in WITNESSING Christ in whatever work or apostolate they are engaged. That is why our Holy Father Pope John Paul II addressing Men and Women Religious in Ibadan during his visit in 1982 said: “Even more important than the various works which you carry out, is the life you live: in other words, what you are. You are consecrated persons striving to follow Christ with great intensity of love” (Pope John Paul II: meeting with men and women religious in Ibadan 15 Feb. 1982,) He stressed the primacy of the WITNESS, which they ARE as consecrated persons, who bear witness, to the power of Christ's grace and primacy of His Love, who also bear testimony to the reality of the redeeming life of sacrifice and of Christian perfection being realized. Fully aware that this vocation is given not only for the sanctification of the individual concerned but more importantly for the good of the Family of God in 'Nnewi Diocese, these consecrated persons give their whole life, talents and all they have to God in love so that all men and women would happily come to know God, believe in Him an so be saved. Some of you have attended profession ceremonies and you may have heard religious say: “I give myself wholeheartedly to this Religious community so that by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the help of' the Blessed Virgin Mary, I may seek perfect charity in the service of God, the church and humanity” If they say this, they are expected to live it out and they strive to live it out in spite of all human limitations. Thus in their consecrated state, they continue to 101
conscientize and remind the whole world of the ever abiding, active, loving presence of God among men, that this God should be loved in return by way of self dedication to Him, adoration, worship and service, that He should be preached to the poor, and the marginalized of the society. They make it clear to all that even in this present time, it is still possible to live the evangelical perfection taught and lived by Jesus Christ Himself. That is why the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council insist that: “The gifts of the Spirit are manifold: some men are called to testify openly to mankind's yearning for its heavenly home and keep the awareness of it vividly before men's minds (G. et S. No. 38b) (and to) give outstanding and striking testimony that the world cannot be transfigured and offered to God without the Spirit of the beatitudes” (L.G. No. 31b) Contribution Through The Evangelical Counsels The life of perfect chastity (Celibacy) in men and women religious is seen as a manifestation of dedication to God with undivided heart (cf I Cor. 7:32-34.) They show Christ to the Family of God in this diocese that Christ lived a celibate life to perfection without any damage to His Humanity. This is a proof that celibacy is not simply a privation but more importantly an evangelical freedom for the service of God, the church and humanity. In this diocese and elsewhere, consecrated persons by their life of perfect chastity not only conscientize both the married and the single, of the truth that even in this age, chaste life within and outside marriage must still be recognized and can be lived. It encourages married couples in the faithful observance of conjugal chastity, which is the secret of the success of the natural family planning advocated and encouraged by the Church. Above all by their chaste life, religious concretize their supreme, loving response to the divine call to the consecrated state which is considered by the Church always as a sign and a stimulus of charity, a sign of love without any reserves and stimulus of charity that opens itself to all men and women without exception or discrimination. Consecrated chastity liberates the human heart in a unique way and causes it to burn with greater love for God and mankind, so that the heart now loves not only one man or woman and a few children, but also all people of God (many children of God). Our selfgiving in chastity gives vitality to our life of prayer - and so religious should pray and pray for the Church and her problems and the people of God and for the spread of God's kingdom in Nnewi Diocese. 102
By their life of poverty, consecrated persons keep before the Family of God in this diocese that God is man's only real treasure. It becomes very important here to explain that religious poverty does not mean destitution. Religious are subject to the common law of labour and acquire goods not for themselves as individuals but to be shared by the community and the poor according to need. Sharing is a feature of consecrated life. The members share whatever talents, time, life and resources they have for the benefit of God's Family. This prevents them from amassing material wealth. Any resources belonging to the community is directed to the common good and not for the individual who administers it. In this way Christ's honesty and justice are noticed by the people “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” Thus this encourages the members who administer the common temporal goods of the diocese in their struggle for honest accountability. The rich among the people of God also are encouraged to share more of their resources for the common good. People also see examples of detachment from material goods and posts typical of consecrated people when their terms of office expire and others are elected to succeed them or when they are transferred from one place or posts to another. In the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese, consecrated people share their resources for the good of all. They build schools and other institutions, not primarily for economic gain but for the all-round formation of the young and work in hospitals to relieve the suffering of the sick and elderly with commitment. They try to relieve the needs of the poor and society. If you remember, during the war, Maria Regina Secondary/Comprehensive School was the only catholic school open around this area. Though very risky, religious kept it open, worked in sick bays, etc and went to war fronts to take food and medication to the soldiers. We religious now call on you all to help us live our vow of poverty with less pressure arising from demands made on us and which endangers our fidelity to our consecrated life e.g gifts expect to use or refuse to give etc. Further more, consecrated/religious poverty reminds members of the Family of God in this diocese of man's primitive, creaturely nature. Man was created poor from the very beginning with an irreversible radical dependence upon God, his creator. Since God approved this condition of man and pronounced it good (cf Gen. 1:31) it will be unlawful and indeed futile to engage in activities calculated to reverse or undermine this original design of God for the human society: That is 103
why religious poverty rejects as vicious and therefore undesirable, the prevalent mad rush after material wealth at all costs. Their life of obedience, which is sanctifying, freeing and fruitful convinces members of God's family in this diocese that obedience does not lower the dignity of the human person rather it brings it to maturity. As we say, any creature with more than one head is a monster. Taking from the organization of a religious community where we all obey the Superior believing we are thus obeying God,, the diocese works like an orchestra where all work in harmony under the leader. In this Family of God, the Bishop is the leader and all contribute and work in harmony under his leadership. Any member, be he a priest, a religious, parish councillor, head of sodality, etc who refuses to obey the Bishop dances out of tune and disharmonizes our diocesan family. Therefore a disobedient religious is out of place in God's House. Thus religious obedience shows people how to obey in the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese eg. Transfers, changes of office, education, etc COMMON LIFE: Consecrated life is a gift in service of communion in the Family of God. According to our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II: “Even fraternal life, whereby consecrated persons strive to live in Christ with “one heart and soul (Acts. 4:32) is put forward as an eloquent witness to the Trinity. It proclaims the Father, who desires to make all of humanity one family. It proclaims the Incarnate Son, who gathers the redeemed into unity, pointing the way by his example, his prayer, his words and above all his death, which is the source of reconciliation for a divided and scattered humanity. It proclaims the Holy Spirit as the principle of unity in the Church, where-in he ceaselessly raises up spiritual families and fraternal communities” (V.C 21) Thus fraternal life is a privileged place in which to discern and accept the will of God and to walk together with one mind and heart. Obedience enlivened by charity, unites the members of a religious community in the same witness and the same mission while respecting the diversity of gifts and individual personalities. In community life, inspired by the Holy Spirit, individuals engage in fruitful dialogue with others in order to discover the Father's will. At the same time, together they recognize in the one who presides, an expression of the fatherhood of God and the exercise of authority received from God, at the service of discernment and communion. It is in this way that religious community life is a particular sign before this Family of God in Nnewi Diocese and society, of the bond which comes from the same call and the common desire, despite differences, to be faithful to that call. 104
Authority and obedience as exercised in proper religious community shine like a sign of that unique fatherhood which comes from God, and of the brotherhood born of the spirit as well as the interior freedom of those who put their trust in God, despite the human limitations of those who represent him. This is contrary to the spirit of discord and division and selfish individualism in the world. (Cf V.C 92) From their fraternal life, consecrated persons render services of communion in the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese. These are specially directed to the poor, sick, ignorant, the underprivileged through development, education and social services. They relieve suffering, poverty, ignorance and uplift the highly marginalized like lepers. The apostolate with widows and single mothers is gradually gaining ground. By so doing they prove our oneness in Christ and bring these members to realize how much God loves them. Realizing God's love we understand that we are all God's children and so are brothers and sisters in Christ. With this fraternal communion in this Family of God our worship together, centred on the Eucharist, (which is the center and summit of the whole sacramental life, through which each Christian receives the saving power of redemption) becomes more meaningful to all. As members of family in communion with one another, we live the Liturgical life of the Church, which represents Christ ever living in His Church. While performing the above mentioned services in the Family of God, consecrated persons in the Active life portray Christ “in the proclamation of the kingdom of God, to the multitudes, in his healing of the sick and suffering, in his work of converting sinners to a better life, in his solicitude for youth and his goodness to all” (L.G. 46) Those in Secular Institutes contribute in a very special way to the coming of the kingdom of God. In a very distinctive synthesis they unite the value of consecration and that of being in the world. While living their consecration in the world and from the world they strive to permeate everything with an evangelical spirit for the strengthening and growth of the Body of Christ. (cf Can, 713 § 1). On account of this, they share in the evangelising mission of the Church through their personal witness of Christian living, their commitment to ordering temporal affairs according to God's plan and co-operating in service of the ecclesial community. These they do in accordance with the secular way of life, which is proper to them. (cf Can. 713 § 3. cf V.C,32) PRAYER: Consecrated persons are more than lay workers in the vineyard of the Lord. They are special lovers and friends who are tied to Christ, the Master of the vineyard by intimate bonds that are very powerful in their intercessory role. 105
“if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear fruit..... (Jn 15: 7-8). Therefore, prayer is a very important contribution of consecrated persons for they intercede for the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese ceaselessly. Since they have left the pursuit of earthly riches they are available or rather now concentrate on interceding for the people The Bishop, the Clergy, the people with all members of their various families. They pray daily for their material and spiritual welfare and so what they cannot contribute materially they plead with God to supply in the diocese. They show by works of charity that we belong to the same Family. Even the mere presence of consecrated people affects the people around them positively. It is a privilege for Nnewi Diocese to have the Benedictine Nuns here in Ozubulu in the Diocesan Family. As you know, they devote themselves completely to prayer and contemplation and direct the minds of the people to Christ praying on the mountain. They intercede for this diocese in a special way. People know why they are there and give glory to God. So, consecrated persons are characterized more by their mode of BEING than by their rapport to functions. They are defined by what they ARE more than what they DO. In their being and mode of life, they make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life capable of amazing the world. To peoples' astonishment they respond by proclaiming the wonders of grace accomplished by the Lord in those whom he loves. Consecrated persons, therefore, incarnate in a most transparent way the eschatological value of the kingdom presenting themselves thus as living testimonies of the profound life of the Church. (e.g Napoleon Bonaparte experienced this and said). The Laity live in the world and assume its structures to transform it. Consecrated persons on the other hand live the life, which the structures of this world, die to the world and as such live in Christ: They introduce at the same time in the world a newness, which is a figure and an anticipation of the future kingdom. In this sense, while laical life is referred to the world as to transform it, religious/consecrated life is referred to the world, as it will be, to anticipate it and testify it. Thus in both their being and life - priests bring to its maximum expression the sacerdotal aspect of our baptismal consecration (mediation and sanctification) The Laity express the royal aspect (dominion of the world and recapitulation in Christ) while consecrated persons express the prophetic aspect (living testimony). 106
So, consecrated persons accentuate with their lives the eschatological aspect of the Church's life, which is already the kingdom of God but not yet in fullness. They want to anticipate with their lives the future kingdom and with their testimony be an invitation and reminder to all men and women in this Family of God in Nnewi Diocese that their insertion and service in the world is to tend to the formation of a more perfect kingdom in the blessed communion of heaven. This kingdom transcends any other human and worldly reality and is constructed not in the abstract but in living out profoundly the intimate realities of the Church, that is, grace and the theological virtues, especially charity. CONCLUSION Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as I mentioned earlier in my introduction I have shared with you a little of what I know of consecrated life in the service of communion in the Family of God in Nnewi Diocese. We have tried to share how the life of consecrated people help to promote communion, unity, and progress in Nnewi Diocese. The Bishop as God's representative is the head and everyone else contributes according to his/her state of life and talents/charism towards holiness, the progress of God's kingdom on earth and our final end in heaven. We call on every one to join hands towards the realization of this our one objective, for God's greater honour and glory. May Mary, Queen, Assumed into heaven intercede for us Amen.
Catechesis for continuing Education in the Faith within the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi By Rev Fr. Kene F. Obiora
INTRODUCTION The Divine Mandate Catechesis is central, fundamental and indispensable to the Church's modes of living. It occupies the most prominent place in the life of the Church for, before Christ ascended into heaven; He gave the apostles the mandate- a commission to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that he had commanded. He promised them a presence. They were sent out as we are on the greatest task in history, but with them, there was the greatest presence in the world. It would have been a staggering thing for eleven humble Galileans to be sent forth to the conquest of the world. He thus bequeathed upon them the mission and authority to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the WORD of Life the life that was made manifest. Having entrusted them with the mission and power to teach with authority what He had taught them, He gave them the Spirit to fulfil this mission and also promised them of His presence. If all authority was given to
Him in heaven and on earth, then He had the right to delegate that authority to whomsoever He pleased. It was important that the authority He delegated be given to those who were contemporaneous with Him in order that He might pass it on to them. An electric wire that is fifteen hundred or two thousand miles away from a dynamo cannot communicate current. The dynamism or current that was passed into the Apostles under the headship of Peter was to continue until Christ's Second Coming. The Apostles were not merely to teach; for He who gave the commission was not just a teacher. They were to make disciples in every nation; and discipleship implied surrender of heart and will to the Divine Master. The name catechesis, therefore, was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in his name and thus build up the Body of Christ. Catechesis does not stop at the moment of the reception of the desired and required sacraments, rather, it continues throughout the course of life. 2. SOURCE OF CATECHESIS Catechesis draws its message from the living Word of God. Catechesis will always draw its content from the living source of the Word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures, for the Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church. All God's children, animated by his Spirit, know that the Word is Jesus Christ, the Word made man and that his voice continues to resound in the Church and in the World through the holy Spirit. That is to say that the Word of God, contained in Sacred Tradition and in Sacred Scripture is meditated upon and understood more deeply by means of the sense of faith of all the people of God, guided by the Magisterium which teaches with authority. There are Principal and Subsidiary sources of catechesis: “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.” Sacred Tradition “transmits in its entirety the word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. The Magisterium has the duty of giving an authentic interpretation of the word of God and in doing so fulfils, in the name of Christ, a fundamental ecclesial service. Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium, all three of which are closely connected, are each according to its own way, the Principal sources of catechesis. Biblical excerpts, liturgical texts, patristic writings, formulations of the Magisterium, creeds, 109
theological reflections and testimonies of the saints are the subsidiary or complementary sources of catechesis. 3. THE NATURE, OBJECT AND DUTIES OF CATECHESIS The objective of Catechesis is to inscribe in the hearts of believers the authentic knowledge of the Triune God; in order to obtain the riches of God. Catechesis is “the mystery of Christ.” Catechizing is in a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions, to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery and know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge. It is to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal design. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ's actions and words and of the signs worked by him and developing this understanding of the mystery of Christ in the light of God's word, so that the whole of a person's humanity is impregnated by that word. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ; only in deep communion with him will catechists that is, Popes, Bishops, Priests and lay faithful find light and strength for an authentic, desirable renewal of catechesis. 4. CATECHESIS IN THE APOSTOLIC AGE The Apostles transmitted the task of catechizing to their successors. They committed it also to the deacons. We hear that Stephen was “full of grace and power,” taught unceasingly, moved by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles trained and associated many others with themselves in the task of teaching and spreading the Good News. The letters of Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude gave credence to the catechesis in the apostolic age. The Gospels were passed on orally to the community of believers and they portray varying degrees of catechetical structure. Saint Matthew's account of the gospel was called the catechist's gospel, and Saint Mark's was called the catechumen's gospel. 5. THE PATRISTIC ERA The mission of catechizing which was hitherto held by the Apostles and their collaborators was continued by the Church. The works of the Fathers of the Church beginning with Clement of Rome to Origen are catechetical treatises worthy of mention. In the third and fourth centuries, many Bishops and pastors made it part of their ministry to pen down catechetical instructions and treatises. Among those worthy 110
of mentioning in this age were Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Ambrose and Augustine. In spite of all difficulties the Word of God “sped on and triumphed” as the Apostle Paul says it.” 6. COUNCILS AND MISSIONARY ACTIVITY The Council of Trent played major role in the shaping and development of catechetical thoughts. Trent gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. This council gave birth to the Roman catechesis, which was a summary of Christian teachings and traditional theology for use by priests. It also gave rise to a remarkable organization of catechesis in the Church. The Church at this time owes a lot of thanks to St. Charles Borromeo, Saint Robert Bellarmine and Saint Peter Canisius. May the First Nnewi Diocesan Synod spur up many priests and theologians whose insight and contributions would address local problems confronting the faith. 7. CATECHESIS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD “Behold! A Sower Going out to Sow” (Mk. 4:3) The Church, Mother of mankind continues to sow the Gospel in God's field. Christians of every generation perceive the world with the same eyes with which Jesus contemplated the society of his time. Christians shared the “ joys and hopes, the sadness and the anxieties of the men today By means of catechesis, in which due emphasis is given to her social teaching, the Church desires to stir Christian hearts “to the cause of justice and to a preferential option or love for the poor, so that her presence may really be light that shines and salt that cures. 8. CATECHESIS OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL Catechesis reaches its peak and the plus ultra when the Second Vatican Council prescribed that a Directory for the catechetical instruction of the Christian people be drawn up. The Congregation for the Clergy was entrusted this task. Thus, the General Directory for Catechesis was definitely approved by Pope Paul VI on 18 March 1971 and promulgated on 11 April 1971. The Magisterium of the Church has thrown the door wide open by encouraging catechetical research and this has proved fruitful and have contributed much to catechetical praxis in the particular Churches. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adult, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship on 6th January 1972, has proved especially useful for catechetical renewal. Mention must also be made of the followings: Pope Paul VI Evangelii Nunciandi of 8 December 1975. Pope John Paul II Catechesi Tradendae of 16 October 1979. Particular emphasis must be given to the twelve Encyclicals from Redemptor Hominis to Ut Unum Sint. (1979) Dives in Misericordia (1980), Familiaris 111
Consortio (1981), Dominus et Vivificantem (1986), Christifideles Laici (1987) and Redemptoris Missio (1990). These encyclicals constitute a synthetic corpus of coherent doctrine with regard to the catechetical renewal and ecclesial life desired by the Second Vatican Council. 9. CATECHESIS WITHIN THE FAMILY OF GOD ON MISSION IN THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI.
The people of God have thus continued for almost two thousand years to educate themselves in the faith, in ways adapted to the various situations of believers and the many different circumstances in which the Church finds herself. Nnewi Diocese since its inception in February 2005 left no stone unturned to see that catechesis occupies pre-eminent place among the family of God on mission. The Bishop, Most Rev. H. O. Okeke created the Directorate of Catechesis and Evangelization with its centre at Ihiala. The centre was officially inaugurated by th the Bishop on 9 November, 2003. Between November 2003 and December 2004, the centre has dug deep into the Church's documents dealing on catechesis in order to lend credible voice in the shaping and development of catechetical thought. Like every other thing human, there are obstacles here and there but a lot has been silently achieved to the Greater Glory of God. 10. CONTINUING EDUCATION ON THE FAITH WITHIN THE FAMILY OF GOD ON MISSION IN THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NNEWI.
In the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi continuing education in the faith is directed to the Christian Community as such so that it may mature in its interior life of love of God and of the brethren as well as in its openness to the world as a missionary community. The Episcopal Ministry of Most Rev. H. O. Okeke is replete with and flowering from his pen numerous works worthy of catechetical renewal Lenten Pastoral; -2002-. We are the Family of God;-2003-We walk by Faith; 2004- From Faith to Faith; 2005 Let us Celebrate the Mystery of Faith. Monthly letter to the People of God in The Christian Outlook, and numerous written addresses for instance his “Address to the Nnewi Diocesan Pastoral Council of 1st March 2003 has for its theme: Stand Firm And Hold Fast To The Tradition You Were Taught (2 Thes. 2:15). He has also written addresses for every meeting of the Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Presbyterium. For instance, his address to the Diocesan Presbyterium of 27th February, 2002, was titled: ONE HEART AND ONE MIND. The list is endless and the catalogue inexhaustible. There is monthly recollection for all priests of the Diocese. There is also compulsory one week Retreat every year for all priests of the Diocese. There is Continuing 112
Education in the Faith for all priests in the Diocese at least thrice a year. Catechists in the Diocese do have their two weeks orientation Course/Seminar every year. Last year the Bishop played positive role by giving N3,000.00 (three thousand naira) to each of the 120 Catechists who participated in the on-going education in the faith held at BORACC Nkpor. 11. THOSE TO BE CATECHIZED The entire members of the mystical Body of Christ are the targets of catechesis since everybody needs continuing education in the faith. The catechumens need catechesis in order to belong to Christ. The lay faithful, the religious and the clerics themselves need continuing education in the faith for the sustenance of their faith. C AT E C H E S I S I N T H E C H U R C H ' S M I S S I O N O F EVANGELIZATION The Church “exists in order to evangelize that is “the carrying forth of the Good News to every sector of the human race so that by its strength it may enter into the hearts of men and renew the human race”. This Missionary mandate of Jesus to evangelize has various aspects, all of which, however, are closely connected with each other: “proclaim” (Mk 16:15) “Make disciples and teach” (Mt 28:19-20) “be my witnesses” (Acts 1.8), “baptize. (Mt 28:19), “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). “Love one another” (Jn 15:12). Proclamation, witness, teaching, sacraments, love of neighbour; all of these aspects are the means by which the one Gospel is transmitted. 13. SOME CHALLENGES FOR CATECHESIS In order to be efficacious: i) To educate toward a correct evaluation of the socio-cultural changes of our societies in the light of faith. The Christian Community should be able to discern true values in our cultural milieu, as well as its dangers, and adopt appropriate attitudes. To clarify current religious and moral questions, encountered by the men and women of our time. For example, public and private morality with regard to social questions. To clarify the relationship between temporal actions and ecclesial action by demonstrating mutual distinctions and implications. To develop the rational foundations of the faith, that the right understanding of the faith and of the truths to be believed are in conformity with the demands of reason. 113 12.
v) Based on the example of catechesis in the patristic era, catechesis today, needs to form the personality of the believer and therefore be a true and proper school of Christian pedagogy. 17. OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE CATECHESIS It is necessary, however to examine with particular attention some problems confronting catechesis: i. Practical Atheism: This is made manifest in various ways such as not being a practicing catholic; lukewarmness in faith and morals; total lack of zeal and interest in the things of God. ii. Lack of Knowledge: catechesis encounters failure when there is lack of knowledge of what to teach, and language for proper communication. iii. Personnels: Priests, catechists and lay faithful who are not up and doing in their apostolate constitute obstacles to catechesis. When that is the case, the catechumens and the rest of the faithful have their spiritual edifice founded on sandy foundations, experience malnutrition and starvation, which may all result to spiritual death. 15. PROPOSALS 1. If the continuing education on the faith is to yield fruit, the family of God on Mission should make reading the Bible mandatory for her children. All statutory bodies and pious societies should read the Bible at the opening of their meeting. The use of bulletins should be discouraged in all the parishes and let them come to Church with the copy of the Bible since catechesis draws its source from the Word of God and ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Holy Communion and Confirmation Candidates should show copies of the Bible before they are finally accepted as passed. 2. Memorization or parroting catechism lends itself to almost non-existent assimilation, reducing all knowledge to formulas that are repeated without being properly understood. We should look for the ways our forefathers taught their children before the advent of Western Education by asking few of our living elders the question; how did our fore fathers transmit knowledge to their children? 3. The church should graduate from Uka Fada to Uka Ora. The priests should open up themselves and in humility allow lay ministry to flourish in the Church and collaborative Pastoral Ministry should be a welcome trend. 4. The Priests should be educated on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and it should be mandatory in all the parishes in our Diocese. 114
5. The Family of God on Mission needs to consider as its primary task the preparation and formation of co-coordinators and central catechetical instructors in the Diocese and parish levels. 6. Neighborhood Christian Communities should be encouraged. 7. Catechesis according to age group should be made mandatory in all the outstations and Parish Centres in our Diocese likewise Youth Ministry 8. All lay Apostolate Societies should be invited for lay ministry. 9. Executives of statutory bodies and pious societies in the Diocese should undergo leadership catechesis at least once a year. 10. Parish Priests should adopt interesting methodologies for the Sunday Evening Instructions as well as Bible Studies and bible sharing. This should be made mandatory for all in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. The Book - Sunday Is Our Weekly Easter by Archbishop Emeritus, Most Rev. A.K. Obiefuna should be studied and the people be taught the importance of Sunday observances. CONCLUSION Finally if catechesis is done well, Christians will be eager to bear witness to their faith, to hand it on to their children, to make it known to others, and to serve the human community in every way. Catechesis is necessary to make Christians attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. It is also aimed at making them prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls them to account for the hope that is in them. May the presence of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of Mary, grant the Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi enthusiasm in the catechetical work that is essential for her. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord Amen.
Living Liturgy for the Family of God on Mission in Nnewi Diocese, Paper Presented by Fr. Patrick C. Chibuko a Resource Person at the First Diocesan Synod, 3-10 April 2005: Theme: Living the Faith in the Family of God on Mission In the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi; that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, (Eph. 3: 7), held at St. Michael's Parish Eziora - Ozubulu.
INTRODUCTION The liveliness of the liturgy of any local church like ours depends eminently on its close nexus with the liturgy of the universal church, while at the same time maintaining certain particularity proper to the same local church. The life of the Church is seen in the liturgy. The tasks facing liturgy today are quite enormous. Liturgy must seek authentic means of creating a worshipping community through the celebration of the mysteries of Christ: the Eucharist, the sacraments, liturgy of the hours and sacramentals. As a holy people of God, the people are entitled to a liturgy that is at their disposition. They need to understand what they celebrate and participate actively in them. They require as a matter of necessity a liturgy that transforms the inner realities of their being and the entire humanity. Hence the need for liturgical inculturation as a means of achieving these goals. NATURE OF THE CHURCH'S LITURGY Liturgy means the public worship which our Redeemer as head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship, which the community of the faithful
renders to its Founder, and through him to the heavenly Father. In short, it is the worship rendered by the Mystical body of Christ in the entirely of its head (Christ) and members (the clergy and the laity) to the heavenly Father. Christ in his entirety is central in the Church's liturgy. First and foremost, it is an exercise of the priestly office of Christ. It is the entire public worship performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. Thirdly, an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church. It is in no way a private action of any individual. It entails the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ with the ultimate purpose of transforming the lives of the faithful leading unto their sanctification, edification and glorification of God through witnessing of life. Liturgy remains the starting point of constant reformation and renewal of the life of the Church. No wonder then, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wisely began the reforms of the life of the Church with the Church's liturgy leading to the emergence of the First document called the Sacrosanctum ConciliumConstitution on the Sacred Liturgy in December 1963. The liturgy has always been considered to be the life-wire and the nerve-centre of the Church. Indeed, the vitality of any local Church can always be assessed by the pulse of her worshipping forms. Liturgy however, does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church; it remains however, the culmen et fons, the apex and source of the Christian life and spirituality. By the liturgical reforms, the Council Fathers aimed at achieving the maximum active, conscious, plenary and socioCommunitarian participation of the faithful in the Liturgy. The constitution on the sacred Liturgy therefore declares that liturgical celebrations are not private functions, but are rather celebrations belonging to the Church. They manifest the whole Body of Christ, though they concern the individual members in different ways, according to their different orders, offices, and actual participation. CHURCH'S LITURGY CELEBRATES THE PASCHAL MYSTERY OF CHRIST The paschal mystery Forms an integral part of the entirety of the Christian mystery. Its location within the framework of the entire Christian mystery justifies its centrality and its importance. The entire Christian life revolves around the mystery of Christ. It not only forms the foundation of the faith of the Church, but also it remains the source from which the Church draws its vitality. We intend to examine as exhaustively as possible the nature of the paschal mystery and its implications in the light of evolving a living liturgy for the people of God on mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. 117
NATURE OF PASCHAL MYSTERY The Paschal Mystery of Christ can be well understood in the broad and narrow senses. In the broad sense, it includes the incarnation the birth, the public life, the ministry, the miracles, the doctrine, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, sitting at the right hand of God and the final coming of Christ in glory. That would mean the totality of what Christ is. Secondly, it has a very close connection with the entirety of the Christian mystery, which is summarised in the Church's creed. It remains the central and focal point of all that the Church believes and celebrates. The strict sense of the term includes simply, his passion, death and resurrection. The paschal mystery as it were remains the bedrock, the heart, the centre of and the firm foundation of the entire life of the Church. The Church is built, sustained, nourished and survives on this unique mystery of Christ. Through the liturgical celebrations, the Church constantly relives this mystery, makes a memorial; a commemoration, a re-enactment; an ananmesis of this mystery particularly in the sacraments and her other liturgical celebrations. Christ's paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happened once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life. So the mystery has reference to the past, relevance to the present with a thrust in the Future. THE CHIEF ACTS OF CHURCH'S LITURGY a. Sacraments The liturgy celebrates what the Church refers to as the Sacraments of Initiation namely, Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. The second set of sacraments are called Sacrament of healing which include Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Pastoral Care and Anointing of the Sick with the Viaticum. The third sets of sacraments are called Sacraments at the Service of Communion, which include Deaconate Priesthood and Episcopacy on the one hand, and Holy Matrimony on the other. b. Instituted Sacramentals Other celebrations that engage the liturgy as chief acts include Instituted Sacramentals. There are certain blessings that have lasting importance because they consecrate persons (blessing of Abbot or Abbess of a monastery, the 118
consecration of virgins, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church like lectors, acolytes, catechists etc) to God or reserved objects and places for liturgical use. c. Dedication or Blessings of Objects and places of Worship The dedication or blessing of a Church or an Altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels and vestments, bells etc. can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects. There are also other forms of piety and popular devotions like the veneration of relics, visit to the sanctuaries, pilgrimages, procession, via crucis, religious dances, the rosary, medals. These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. They should be so drawn up that they harmonise with the liturgical seasons in accordance with the sacred liturgy, in some way derived from it and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them. d. Christian Funeral Another important act of liturgy is bidding farewell to members from this world. The Church in her prayers emphasizes the centrality of the paschal mystery of Christ. All the sacraments, and principally those of Christian initiation, have as their goal the last Passover of the child of God, which, through death, leads the dead the life of the kingdom. Then what one confessed in faith and hope will be fulfilled: I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is away from the body and at home with the Lord. e. Liturgical Year The Church's liturgical Year is yet another great act which the liturgy celebrates. The Church has within the course of the liturgical year various seasons, which include, the Advent, the Christmas tide, the Short Ordinary time, the Lenten season, the Easter tide and the Post Pentecostal tide that is concluded with the solemnity of Christ the king. Through out this period the Church spreads around this central mystery and celebrates same for the edification of the Church and members. This is also the case with the cycle of feasts surrounding the mystery of the incarnation (annunciation, Christmas and Epiphany). They commemorate the beginning of human salvation and communicate to humanity the first fruits of the paschal mystery. f. Sanctorals: Sanctorals refers to the liturgical celebration of the saints and martyrs who bore witness to the paschal mystery either by physical shedding of blood, or by leading good lives of imitation-mimesis of Christ. In celebrating this annual 119
cycle of the mysteries of Christ, the Church honours the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her, the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be. Furthermore, when the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the paschal mystery in those who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the faithful as examples for admiration and imitation (mimesis). g. The Liturgy of the Hours In the liturgy of the hours, the Church repeats almost as it were what it did in the course of the year cycle during the day by extending through out the day the proclaimed paschal mystery at the Eucharistic celebration, through out the course of the day using the canonical hours of the day. Here, the mystery of Christ, his incarnation and Passover, which are celebrated in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, the Divine Office. This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhorts to pray constantly (Eph. 6:18), is so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God. In this public prayer of the Church, the faithful (clergy, religious and the laity) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in the form approved by the Church, the liturgy of the hours is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father. It is therefore, an hourly prolongation of the Eucharist and God's praise at every hour of the day, for the sanctification of the hour and the people of God. The success of these celebrations depends to a very large extent on filial obedience to the liturgical instructions guiding them and the enrichment of these celebrations with the cultural values and the genius of the people of Nnewi ecclesiastical jurisdiction following particularly the norms as enunciated in SC. 22-23. and SC. 34-37. Quest for A living Liturgy for the family of God on mission in Nnewi Diocese The reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council demands the creation of liturgical forms which ill be imbued with time cultural values and the genius of the people. The council insists that, while restoring the Liturgy to the reach of people's comprehension, active and full participation, both texts and rites should be drawn up so as to express more clearly the holy things which they signify. The 120
Christian people, as far as possible should be able to understand them with ease and take part in them fully, actively and as a community. It further maintains that the Church earnestly desires that Christ's faithful when present at the mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators. On the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayer they should take part in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's word, and be nourished at the table of the Lord's Body. They should give thanks to God, offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the Priest but also together with him, they should learn to offer themselves. The challenging recommendation of the reformed liturgy of' the Second Vatican Council could well be seen as an urgent call to go back to local cultures to find suitable values within the cultures to enrich the Christian rites or even to create entirely new rites. This recommendation of the Council portrays the liberal mind of the Fathers of the reformed liturgy to encourage varieties in the church's worshipping forms. These varieties resulting ultimately to different practices pertaining to the liturgy, the divergent usage, the juridical and administrative norms proper to local churches cumulatively lead to the emergence of liturgical rites. Rite in this sense therefore, does not simply apply to a single action of, for example, sacramental administration. Rather, it touches all expressions of faith particular to a local Church. In this broad sense of the term rite, liturgy becomes an integral part that makes up the totality of life pattern of a people. Such a creation is the challenge to the local Churches like Nnewi diocese to provide the people with an authentic liturgy, which would be truly Christian and fully cultural. A homily in the liturgy that suits the family of' God on Mission, must be able to uplift the minds of people above their immediate surroundings, lead to sanctification of the people, edification of the Church and ultimately lead to continuous glorification of God. The new liturgy must be socio-cultural oriented. A meaningful celebration of such liturgy must take into serious consideration the yearnings of the people and must be geared towards the liberation of the people and development of the people. It requires making close connection between the liturgical celebration and social justice. The contents and the application of the fruits of liturgical celebration must go beyond the limits of the celebrative moment to overflow into and influence the various socio-politico- economic agenda that challenge the modern society. The hitherto myopic conception of liturgy must be broadened for both the 121
celebrants and participants to see the inestimable treasures of liberation and transformation that are co-naturla with the central mysteries that the liturgy celebrates. For liturgy well celebrated and understood has the great potentiality to assess any given situation in its proper perspective, instil courage into fainting hearts, provide confidence in the midst of doubts, able to create practical options in the midst of diminishing alternatives, open up new realities and opportunities, and offering Christian courage even in the face of death. It has the power to uplift the mind to a new threshold from which it can view reality with new eyes, new hopes and new resistance. Three Special Areas of Immediate Concern There are three special areas I would consider as a matter of urgent concern towards the evolution of a living liturgy for the People of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. i. ii. iii. Celebration of the Eucharist according to the mind of the Church Celebration of the Word of God in the Liturgy elaborately Possibility of an lgbo Christian Rite of Marriage: Church Wedding and Traditional Marriage in one ceremony.
i. Celebration of the Eucharist according to the mind of the Church With the Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum Domine Stay With Us Lord (Lk. 24:29), the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, uses the experience of the apostles journeying to Emmaus to announce and lead the Church and the entire humanity into the spirit of the year of he Eucharist, which the Universal Church is celebrating from October 2004 to October 2005. Prior to this Apostolic Letter, the emergence of the third edition of the Roman Missal of 2000 followed by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal of 2000 and 2002 are very significant in the study of the liturgy of the universal Church with particular reference to the evolution of a living liturgy for the family of God on Mission in Nnewi diocese. With the publication of the new Roman Missal, another stage begins that is in the hands of the Bishops' Conferences namely, the work of revising the translations in use to ensure that they faithfully reflect the official Latin text in accord with the measures prescribed by Instruction Liturgiam authenticum approved last year by the Holy Father. Once the Bishops Conference gives its approval, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has to issue the necessary recognition for the revised texts.” 122
The liveliness of any local eucharistic liturgy must be largely based on the new Millennium Missal and the Revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, while noting its connectivity with the Reformed Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council whose 40 anniversary the Pope has kicked off with his Apostolic Letter Spiritus et Sponsa - The Spirit and the Bride, Dec. 4. 2003 appreciating its contents and challenge with a view to addressing the aberrations and abuses that take place in our sanctuary. This certainly calls immediately to mind the great work done by the Sacred Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ably headed by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze containing instructions issued by the Vatican in April, 2004: Redemptionis Sacramentum - On Certain Things to be done and Certain Things to be Avoided particularly in the Eucharistic Liturgy. Of great importance too is the master piece of a document on the Eucharist: Ecclesia de Eucharistia - The Church of the Eucharist of 2003. These documents have to be studied and applied by all clergy, religious and the laity. ii. Elaborate Celebration of the Word of God in the Liturgy
drawing instances from the Scriptures to corroborate the themes or the aspects of Christ's mystery that are being celebrated. That means that the ministers of the Word must make the bible their closest companion. The Word of God, as it were, teaches, but convicts, heals and illumines. No wonder then what happens in some Churches, after the celebration, the Word of God is enthroned on the Altar, and the Word then becomes really Emmanuel. The Church has the tendency to lose many of her members as a result of this deficiency in handling the Word. This is because people come to the celebration and leave with spiritual malnutrition. They are rather over burdened with moribund liturgy. But any where the Word of God is powerfully proclaimed and preached, (behind a powerful microphone or public address system, enriched with nourishing fruits of deep prayerful reflections, local idiomatic expressions, poetic forms, proverbs and wisdom tit-bits, with good liturgical and cultural music to help in digesting the Word and Signs, the situation is quite different. Such ceremonies are usually full and the Christian life and culture boom. Then in response, the people take up responsibilities to solve social problems, because they are now' fully armed with Christ, and all these of course lead to reverence to the Word of God and the sacrament being celebrated. There is absolute need to wake extra effort now to proclaim the Word of God with dignity, and make the crucified Christ central in all things. iii. Homily At Wedding Ceremonies Homilies delivered during wedding should do well to emphasis the nature and the implications involved in the communitas vitae et amoris - community of life and love between the husband and wife as the ends & marriage. And in African culture particularly, the possibility of procreation of choice sexes and education of offspring constitutes the burden of the homily. Secondly the aspect of service of communion for which the sacrament is known, namely the salvation of others should be very well developed. Along side with the priesthood, marriage is understood as the second sacrament at the service of communion. For in marriage, the couple dramatises the reality of the salvific love of Christ to the Church. Husband and wife see themselves as reflective mirrors of the life long commitment of Christ to the Church. The couple puts into practice the unique sacrificial love that exists between Christ and the Church in a mutual bond. It would be wrong for homilies at weddings to dwell too long on the personal qualities of the couples as if they are no longer in need of the grace of the sacrament. A homily with this kind of orientation leads to liturgical mini, which 124
A very well proclaimed Word of' God and well-prepared homily nourish the faith of the members a great deal. It keeps the celebration alive. Such quality homilies are always appreciated. They arc usually very challenging and never boring. The readings and the homilies are to be celebrated in the same manner as the words of consecration. They are as important as that. Just as the words of consecration cannot be uttered anyhow, the same applies to the readings and the homilies. The apostles in the early Church refused to be distracted in order to have time for the Word and Prayer. The tendency today is to emphasize the celebration of the sacraments over and above the Word. This is the mentality, which was inherited from the pre-Second Vatican Council period. Today more than ever, the opportunity has been given to get back to the Word, to read, to love and to preach the Word of God. Every homily must speak of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, namely: the paschal mystery. This is the core or the kernel of every homily. Otherwise, the homily is something else. The Cross of Christ must not be found missing in homilies, especially against the background of a materialistic society that seems to be deviating from The Cross and going after a Cross-less Christ. The centrality of the paschal mystery of Christ must be sufficiently emphasized. The homily is not first and foremost speaking about social problems but rather a commentary on the Word and the best commentary is from the bible itself, 123
pre-empties the mystery of the sacrament of marriage. Instead, the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctities them on the way to eternal life. Thus, the Eucharistic celebration within which the wedding is celebrated and in which they share in the same Body and in the same Blood of Christ. They may form but one Body in Christ. iv Homily At Funeral Masses Very often funeral homilies degenerate into mere eulogies. Eulogies are forbidden. The brief homily is not meant to be a eulogy or a panegyric in honour of the deceased. Often times, such homilies merely descend to sentimentality or triviality and sometimes rise to the heights of a solemn proclamation of beatification, if not an instant canonization. On the other hand, it would be difficult, if not callous, to exclude any reference to the deceased from the homily. Therefore, pastoral common sense would modify a total ban of any comment on the life or character of the Christian soul, which the church in prayer is commending to the mercy of God. Funeral homilies should never lose sight of three main points: entrusting the dead to the merciful Lord, (Misericordia Dei), the hope of the resurrection for the dead and the possibility of meeting again with the bereaved on the last day. Again most of the content and the main emphasis should consist of drawing out the revealed truths from the chosen readings, that is, proclaiming the consoling but challenging fact of life and death, resurrection, judgment, purgatory and the hope of eternal life in heaven. This is often a great opportunity for evangelisation, because, non - Christians apparently find the Catholic rites to be the most interesting and consoling of any funerals they attend. Here is one of those moments in the modern world when people are forced to face reality. Without being heavy handed, the homilist should seize such moments and use them for the glory of the risen Lord amid the salvation of souls. Furthermore, in some places a eulogy could he given after the Post Communion Prayer and before the Rite of Final Commendation and Farewell. Here, a member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased. This seems the right time for such words, as long as they are brief, but it is not appropriate to intrude a eulogy into the Rife of Final Commendation and Farewell. 125
V. Possibility of an lgbo Christian Rite of Marriage: Church Wedding and Traditional Marriage in one Ceremony The pastoral problems created by cohabitation of man and woman who are traditionally married living together without the Church wedding have been studied and given a practical solution. The good news I have for you on this issue, is that there is today in lgboland, a functional living rite of marriage whereby Church Wedding and Traditional Marriage arc celebrated in one Ceremony, the same day, the same venue tie, the same hour under the same canopy. The Second Enugu Diocesan Synod in October 2001 rose up with a resolution that the new Igbo Rite of Marriage Church Wedding and Traditional Marriage in one ceremony prepared by our experts should be approved by the Local Ordinary and put into use. This approval has since been given. This rite has already moved from discussion to decision. It is no long a question of: Can this be done? As to be provided with the third edition of the Rite on How it can well be celebrated and enriched with various alternatives and short forms. Incidentally, it was first celebrated by the Local Ordinary in the late 2001 at Amokwe in Udi L.G.A and subsequently in 2002 by priests at Ihe in the old Awgu L.G.A. and thirdly on the 23 October, 2004 at Ugwogo Nike. Secondly, this Rite was singled out as the major practical achievement of Enugu Diocese in the area of liturgical inculturation during he First National Pastoral Congress at Ibadan, 2002 when it said inter alia: Recently, however, the diocese of Enugu appears to have taken the lead among the Igbo speaking diocese to publish a text approval by the local ordinary to be used in the marriage of Christians. The Rite now exists for use as a practical demonstration of any accomplished liturgical inculturation. Presently it is approved for use in the diocese of Enugu. It is now in the process of being approved for the two ecclesiastical provinces of Onitsha and Owerri. The copies are obtainable outside for study and celebration with the approval of the local ordinary of Nnewi. Recommendations for a Living Liturgy for the people of God on mission in Local Church of Nnewi. i. Pre-Eminence of the Bishop's Mass The Bishop's Mass is to serve as ideal, where active, conscious and plenary participation is optimal, where ministers are at their best and where proper liturgical books are used with each person performing his or her role as best as 126
possible. The Bishop's Mass ought to be the model for all other celebrations; hence his celebration must be genuine, simple, clear, dignified and pastorally effective. As the chief steward of the Mysteries of God, he is the overseer, promoter, and guardian of all liturgical life in the particular Church entrusted to his care. All should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the Bishop, especially in his Cathedral Church. It must be guaranteed that the preeminent manifestation of the Church is present in the full, active participation of all God's holy people in these liturgical celebrations. Hence, the liturgical celebrations in which the Bishop presides manifest the mystery of the Church; as that mystery invokes Christ's presence; such celebrations then, are not a mere display of ceremony. These celebrations should serve as a model for the entire diocese and be shining example of active participation by the people. ii. Rediscover the Centrality of the Paschal Mystery in the Eucharistic Celebration At the heart of the Eucharistic liturgy is the paschal mystery of Christ. The image of the heart signifies innermost core or centre of an organism, the starting point and terminus of the circulating blood. The heart is the vitalizing centre without which life is impossible. As principal organ it supplies all areas of the body, even in their most minute parts, with the blood that is indispensable for life. Since the celebration of the first Eucharist by Christ and his apostles with the consequent command of Christ to the Church to continue this celebration, the Church has been faithful to it. Following the intention of the Lord, she does this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again. In doing this also, she effectively makes a memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, the Paschal Mystery. Although all the liturgical celebrations of the Church have this mystery at their centre, the Eucharist makes a re-enactment of it in a most excellent way. In the celebration of the Eucharist, the work of our redemption is carried out and this work is aptly and accurately brought out. iii. Re-address the Problem of Full Church and Poor Altar Rail A cursory survey in most areas has revealed that many attend Mass but abstain from the Holy Communion. A Sunday Mass of about three thousand people in attendance and the communicants range between 0 - 500. A church wedding of about 500 people in attendance and the communicants count between 100-120. 127
A funeral of a prominent personality with a mammoth crowd in attendance but the communicants are damn too few. There is need to find out the cause of the great drop in the number of communicants. This should be part of the project in this year of the Eucharist, why there is full Church but very meager number coming to the rail for Holy Communion. iv. Revive the Invaluable Role of Music in the Eucharistic Celebration Music gives sweetness to the expression of prayer, promotes the union of minds and makes the celebration more vibrant. Actually, worship assumes a very noble character when it is celebrated with music. With melodious music, prayers assume a very high joyous expression, while unity of hearts is rendered most profoundly from the unity of voices. With music in worship, the minds are raised more easily to the heavenly realities by means of' the splendour of sacred signs and symbols, and the whole celebration prefigures more clearly the worship which is performed in the heavenly Jerusalem. v. Re-install the Value of Silence in the Eucharistic Celebration Silence in worship must be fostered in our communities with greater commitment. We need silence if we are to accept in our hearts the full resonance of the voice of the Holy and to unite our personal prayer more closely to the Word of God and the public voice of the Church. Ours is a society filled with increasingly frenetic space, often deafened by noise and confused by the ephemeral. It is vital to rediscover the value of silence. Let us keep before our eyes the example of Jesus, who rose and went out a lonely place and there he prayed Mk. 1:35. We need a specific education in silence. The liturgy with its different moments and symbols, cannot ignore silence. Sacred silence accompanies the Eucharistic celebration as well stipulated in the GIRM 2000 as follows. Through out our prayer we speak words and sing songs of praise. We hear God's holy word proclaimed in the assembly. The homily takes into account the mystery being celebrated (cf. nr. 65). But at times in presence of the Holy One, the mystery of God hushes us into silence. The Instruction stipulates the following as moments of silence in the Eucharist: a. Silence is appropriate before the service begins (cf. nr. 15). b. After the first and second readings (cf. nr. 56, 128, 130). c. And after the homily (cf. nnr. 56, 66, 136). d. Silence may serve as the assembly's response to the Prayer of the Faithful (cf. nr. 71). e. Approaching the wondrous mystery of the Lord's real presence under the Eucharistic species, all prepare to receive in silence (cf. nrr. 3,84). f. All may spend some time after communion in silent prayer (cf. nrr. 88,164). 128
vi. Develop Filial Obedience to Liturgical Laws Catholic worship is meant to be well ordered. Liturgical law exists and is binding. But the purpose of this law is to encourage and promote the spiritual well being, participation and unity of Christ's faithful. It also exists for the sanctification and protection of the clergy, who celebrate the rites of the Church at the very heart of their ministry to others. It is thus a law of service, not of servitude or to be followed sheepishly or mechanically. It is not a law under the pain of facing a firing squad. It is rather of conscience. It is a law that flourishes only within the freedom of grace, because it facilitates the supreme ministry of grace, imparted in the sacraments. Outside the domain of grace, it soon degenerates into formalism and leads to ritualism. But like all sound laws, it exists both for the good of the individual person and for the common good of persons. Duly ordered liturgical worship sustains the people of God by maintaining, protecting and promoting the central reason for the existence of the Church the adoration of the triune God. While there are more options and a more flexible pastoral approach as are evident today, this is no excuse for a cavalier attitude toward directives, rubrics and traditions. The anarchist approach to liturgy has caused great harm among the holy people of God. It cannot provide that something more that the Council Fathers called for, going beyond lawfulness and validity, because it has scorned the foundational structure of Christian worship. vii. Responsibility and Competence In an era when liturgical confusion and innovations linger, the New Code of Canon Law places a certain responsibility on parish clergy; the pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the centre of the parish assembly of the faithful. He is to work to see that the Christian faithful are nourished through a devout celebration of the sacraments and especially that they frequently approach the sacrament of Most Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of penance; he is likewise to endeavour that they are brought to the practice of prayer as well as to a knowing and active participation in the sacred liturgy, which the pastor must supervise in his parish, under the authority of the diocesan bishop, being vigilant lest any abuses creep in. viii. Engage in Authentic Liturgical Inculturation The Roman Rite is meant to be prudently inculturated. That delicate process is not necessarily the part to wild innovations. There are fundamental and operational principles of liturgical inculturation. Furthermore SC has worked out what it calls the Magna Charta of liturgical inculturation including also the theological, liturgical and cultural principles that must be observed. 129
On the spot mutilation of an already existing rite in the name of inculturation or wholesale importation of cultural elements into the liturgy would be unfair and alien to the classical Roman liturgy. Liturgical Inculturation is not a haphazard affair. It is a science with methods, aims, principles, with ends in view. The Zairian rite is a clear evidence of an inculturational piece worthy of emulation. Some of the areas of urgent inculturation in the Eucharistic celebration in African culture or other African sub-cultures include: a. Kiss of Peace: between men, between women, boys, girls, man and woman not his wife and vice versa; between a boy and a girl not his sister in public and vice versa; a junior and a senior etc. b. Gestures Postures at the Eucharistic celebration, striking the chest, standing for the Gospel etc. c. Reception of Communion in the mouth (implications of feeding an adult in the mouth in public). Etc. d. Eucharistic Vessels e. Eucharistic Vestments. ix. Development of Proper Liturgical Language For the People of God The depth of liturgical inculturation is measured, not by external signs, even on the sacramental level, but by the use of a language that reflects the thought of the people. The use of native symbols and motifs can help to create an indigenous atmosphere and bring out the transparency of liturgical signs, but the real test is the kind of language that the liturgy employs. As long as the Church prays and speaks in a foreign language whose pattern of thought and mode of expression is alien to the people, all efforts at inculturation remain superficial. This means that the church has not penetrated the realm of the spirit nor fully appreciated the native genius of the people. Language is an authentic manifestation of the way people form ideas and interiorly reacts to objective reality. Language communicates the soul and spirit of the people and betrays their most secret sentiments. However, we are lot dealing here with awkward but faithful translations of liturgical texts. Translations will often be either beautiful but unfaithful to the original, or faithful but ugly and irrelevant. The insufficiency of translation is now accepted as a matter of fact, especially in non-western countries. The fuse of the vernacular has made the liturgy intelligible but not closer to the heart of the people. Beneath 130
every translation is a message originally communicated to another people. A translation, even in paraphrase form, cannot adequately transmit this message to the people of this age and culture without breaking away from its original mode of expression. Inculturation necessarily implies the composition of new liturgical texts. Anything less than this falls short of the goal of SC 37-40. x. A Re-living the Mystery of Sunday as the Day of the Lord In the solemn words of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II great prominence ought to be given to Sunday as the day of the Lord. A day, in which the Resurrection of Christ is especially commemorated, is at the heart of liturgical life as the foundation and nucleus of the whole liturgical life and a condition for living the liturgical life well. Furthermore, the Holy Father emphasized that every effort be made this year to experience Sunday as the day of the Lord and the day of the Church. He strongly expressed his happiness if everyone would reflect once more on his words in the Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini. At Sunday Mass, Christians relive with particular intensity the experience of the Apostles on the evening or Easter, when the Risen Lord appeared to them as they were gathered together (cf. Jn. 20:19). In a sense, the people of God of all times were present in their pastoral ministry should be even more attentive to Sunday Mass as the celebration which brings together the entire parish community, with the participation of different groups, movements and associations. Justin Martyr referred to Sunday as the day of the Sun- Dies Solis, the great day in which all in a given locality gather for prayers, to listen to the Word and to celebrate the Eucharist. It is indeed the day, which the Lord has made; in which we have to rejoice and be gad (cf. Ps. 118:24). It is held holy because of the resurrection, which is the bedrock of the Christian faith. It is the day of the new creation by God. The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at he heart of the Church's life. The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. All these combine to accord Sunday the dignity it enjoys in the Catholic faith and this has been observed all through the centuries to the present day. It needs to be noted that such is a wholesome tradition that should be encouraged and enriched with the values of the people in order to save it from being a mere routine. Instead it should be observed as a day of joyful celebration and celebrated accordingly. 131
B As The D day of the People Another important aspect of Sunday is that it is the day in which people assemble, a day in which people cease from work to rest in order to accord the day the dignity and importance it deserves. It is a day of grace and rest from work. Just as God rested on the seventh day from all his work, human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone to enjoy adequate rest and leisure, to cultivate their family, cultural, social and religious lives. For all Christians, like the early Christians of Africa who were often brought before the court to explain why they gathered on Sundays, who would often respond thus: our Christianity has no meaning without the celebration of Sunday. It is the day of the Lord, the day of the resurrection and the day of the Eucharist. The present day and its tendency of equating Sunday and Weekend should be reviewed in the light of the theological basis of observing Sunday as a work free day, and a day of rest. Sunday rest means more than abstention from work in order to clear the arrears of sleep, which have been incurred as a result of early rising to go to work during the weekdays. It means more than weekend whereby one can engage in long travels or attend to other social demands as the main purpose. Nor is it reducible to that free period in which one recuperates from the fatigue of daily work in order to feel strong to face the hectic demands of the following week. Sunday marks rather, the beginning of a new week. The nature of Sunday has to do with life. It forms the source of Christian life and nourishment of the same life. Life does not begin with work. Life exists before work. One works to live but does not live to work. Life is a gift, it is not earned. Life is not reducible to work and money and what money can buy. Work and money accruing from it is not everything. There are situations in life when even money can fail. There are other values more than work and money. Such values include, having quality time for God and for others. This is the socio- theological character of Sunday that needs to be emphasized in liturgical catechesis. In other words, over and above every other purpose of Sunday, it should be a day for the Lord, a day reserved exclusively for God after which other social, familial and cultural values could be addressed. Xi. Restore The Sense Of Prayer In The People Of God Of great importance in this regard is the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, which ought to be celebrated with dignity. It is a celebration that ceaselessly engages the Church in praising the Lord amid interceding for the salvation of the entire world. Pastors of souls introduce the faithful to the celebration of the 132
Liturgy of the Hours, which as the public prayer of the Church, is a source of piety and nourishment for personal prayer. It is an action that is proper to the entire Body of the Church. Pastors have the indispensable task of educating in prayer and more especially of promoting Liturgical life, entailing a duty of discernment and guidance. A diocese that celebrates the Liturgy of the Hours together especially in the Cathedral parish on Saturday Evening introducing the Day of the Lord, Lauds and Sunday Vespers would be ideal. Apart from collective celebration, individuals, clergy, religious and laity should be encouraged to pray the hours meditatively, consciously and actively. Spirituality seems to have been put aside by a broadly secularized society, but it is certain that despite secularization, a renewed need for it is re-emerging in different ways in our day. This is a proof test that the thirst of God cannot be uprooted from the human heart. Therefore, some questions find an answer only in personal contact with Christ. Only in intimacy with him does every existence acquire meaning and succeed in experiencing the joy that prompted Peter to exclaim on the mountain of the Transfiguration. Master, it is well that we are here (Lk. 9:33). xii. Continue the Classical Character of Eucharistic Liturgy Today we speak of classic as the model or standard and authoritative expression of literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture according to the principles and methods of ancient Greeks and Romans. By definition classic is synonymous with such qualities as balance, restraint or sobriety, noble simplicity, orderliness, solemnity and directness. In other words the Roman liturgy was not dramatic but sober, not prolix (or using too many words and therefore boring) in language and rite but simple, not symbolic in its gestures but practical and functional. The Church's liturgy must not be complicated or cumbersome. It must be distinguished by noble simplicity, brevity, sobriety and practicality or functionality. Part of the beauty of this period was that the liturgical celebrations were at their best. Liturgical functionaries took their ministries very seriously and put the best in them into their functions. Each functionary was duly equipped with proper books and functional materials. For instance, the celebrant used the Altar Missal from where the orations were recited; the lectors had their lectionary from where the readings were read; the deacons carried the Evangelia where the gospel texts were read; the cantors with their liber Cantorum as well as the choir; the ministers of the Altar were all in their best of performance. Active participation in the liturgy reached a great height at this period. 133
Consequently, subsequent eras of liturgical history had some kind of nostalgia for a return of this era. Right from the twelfth century, when the Roman Church woke up to the realization that it had lost the classical shape of its liturgy because of the Franco-Germanic influences in the eight century, efforts were made to recapture it. The post conciliar reform of Trent tried likewise, though with no appreciable success. The eighteenth-century Synod of Pistoia attempted to restore it, that the synod was condemned by Rome, fresh efforts appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century in the liturgical movement that is so called classical liturgical movement. Thanks to this movement for the recovery of the classical shape of the Roman liturgy became part of the liturgical reforms of' the Second Vatican Council. It is this classical Shape that the SC speaks about in art. 34 when it says: the rites should be marked by a noble simplicity; they should be short (noble brevity), clear (noble sobriety) and unencumbered by useless repetitions (noble practicality or functionality)… With regard to liturgical inculturation, the Church does not stifle initiatives; rather it boosts individual's or people's cultural values and genius of the people and encourages same to be admitted into the liturgy. However, such innovation or initiatives have to be subjected to the proper ecclesiastical authority for approval before implementation. Furthermore, the Church's liturgy is not in favor of having only one way of doing the same thing by everyone. There has to be unity in essence but diversity in expression; oneness in plurality. Therefore while maintaining the substantial unity of the faith, it has to he expressed in different forms according to people's cultural way. The reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council maintains a judicious and salutary openness to creativity, innovations, creation of alternatives and encourages even total replacement with entirely new rites over and above the ones contained in the typical editions for instance regarding marriage rites. The Constitution on the Sacred liturgy therefore declares that liturgical celebrations are not private functions, but are rather celebrations belonging to the Church. they manifest the whole Body of Christ, though they concern the individual members in different ways, according to their different orders, offices, and actual participation. xiii. Highlight the Social powerful Dimension of the Eucharistic Liturgy A meaningful celebration of liturgy must take into serious consideration the yearnings of the people and must be geared towards the liberation of the people 134
and development of the people. It requires making a close nexus between the liturgical celebration and social justice. The contents and the application of the fruits of liturgical celebration must go beyond the limits of the celebrative moment to overflow into and influence the various socio-politico-economic agenda that challenge the modern society. xiv. Maintain Collaborative Ministry in the Liturgical Celebrations The Church's liturgical celebration is very well equipped with so many ministers, each contributing to the unity and development of the work of God with the priest as the facilitator, animator or co-ordinator. The Lord's mission is never a one-man squad, hence the import of the collaborative ministry where each person has something reasonable and meaningful to contribute. In the celebration of the Divine Liturgy especially the Eucharist, the rich variety of orders and ministries express the dynamic hierarchy of One People who make up the worshipping Body of Christ. Each distinctive role is to be respected and promoted, to achieve that harmony which leads to a united action of praise and adoration. These include all those who ate actively, directly and immediately involved in the celebration of the Eucharist. Each of these has his or her human dignity as a person to be recognized and his or her specific role to be appreciated and fostered. The ministries are in general gender neutral. Where there is gender sensitivity, it will be specified. These would ordinarily include: the people of God, the sacristan, the lector, the acolyte, choir, wardens, technical crew, master of ceremonies, commentator, deacon, priest and bishop. xv. Develop A Deep Liturgical Spirituality for the Clergy and Laity Concluding the Apostolic Letter Spiritus et, Sponsa with an appeal, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II called for a Liturgical Spirituality to be developed which makes people conscious that Christ is the first liturgist who never ceases to act in the Church and in the world through the Paschal Mystery continuously celebrated, and who associates the Church with himself, in praise of the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. In a world replete with so many shades of spiritual experience there is a charming but challenging feeling of nostalgia for authentic spiritual experience based on the liturgy we celebrate. xvi. Celebrate Elaborately the Three Sacraments of Healing In the face of several terminal diseases ravaging human kind, most of which seem to defy scientific medication, the church has a challenge regarding her healing mission. She must remain a beacon of light and hope in a darkened world of HIV/AIDS pandemic and a source of healing or cure. 135
Lord if you will make me whole, I will be healed! Lord I am not worthy but only say the word, I shall be healed! These words should be re-echoed even with greater faith today. It healed in the past, and can still bring healing today especially when all hopes of cure from western medication have been exhausted. In the Church, the care of the sick normally includes the three great sacraments, which are all health restoration oriented: Pastoral care and anointing of the sick, Sacrament of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Reception of the Holy Communion is usually given many times in the course of a single illness. In general most of the prayers to be said after receiving communion suggest that it is the sacrament of healing. In the name of Christ the priest prays that the body and blood of Christ may be a lasting remedy for body and soul. Another prayer asks that the sick may be made one in Christ and since he is present in a unique way one may believe that he is present with all the love, compassion and power that he showed when he healed the sick during his earthly ministry. xvii. Celebrate the Mystery of the Rosary with Devotion With many the Church contemplates the face of Jesus in the Rosary. In contemplating the face of Christ, the Church becomes open to receive the mystery of the Trinitarian life, experiencing anew the love of the father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. The Rosary is the mysteries of Christ and the mysteries of his mother. It is a compendium of the Gospel. Only the experience of silence and prayer offer the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery. As a Gospel prayer, centered on the mystery of redemptive incarnation, the rosary is a prayer with a clear christological orientation. Incidentally, the title of the mother Church of Nnewi diocese is Marian. xviii. Promotion of Liturgy on Diocesan Level Diocesan liturgy commission should be charged among other things to monitor the celebration according to the spirit of the liturgy. To effectively do this, the need for trained Liturgical Masters of Ceremonies or Animators of liturgy becomes inevitable. To reach the grass root levels, there should be also be deanery animators of liturgy who should always liase with the diocesan Master of Ceremonies. For effective co-ordination of the liturgy in the diocese, the following groups should come under diocesan liturgy commission: masters of ceremonies, the choir, lectors, altar servers, deacons, and ministers of hospitality (ushers), technicians, experienced pastorally oriented men and women. Regular 136
meetings, seminars and conferences with these groups collectively or individually to effect a successful implementation of the demands of the RGIRM and ultimately enhancing its spirituality. Even on a larger scale, the diocesan liturgy commission could metamorphose into inter diocesan liturgy commission and National Liturgy Commission with very clear marked objectives and competencies. xix. Support Liturgical Studies in seminaries and Ecclesiastical Tertiary Institutions As qualified agents of evangelisation and inculturation, especially in this new era of evangelisation, the status of liturgy in the seminaries should be such that it is taken rather more serious both in theory and praxis. A theological institute of higher learning in the country or province would be ideal. Such national institute would create many opportunities for various levels of liturgical studies and research: diploma, Bachelor in Theology (B. Th), Masters in Theology (M.Th.), Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy (LSL). Doctorate in Sacred Liturgy (DSL). These presuppose an equipped library, qualified and sufficient staff, the autonomy such an Institute deserves and all the conditions necessary for that. Given the enormous task involved in liturgical inculturation in the new era of specialization across that is sweeping across the world, liturgy should rather be given the importance it deserves in the scheme of things. Such advanced study of the liturgy must also be pastorally oriented. Pastoral orientation to liturgy makes it to be meaningful. Ample and abundant use of Scriptures which is well applied to concrete human situation is strongly recommended, for in listening to the Word of God the Church grows and built, and the wonderful works of God once wrought in many different ways in the history of salvation are represented in their mystical truth through the signs of the liturgical celebration. Thus in this celebration, the Word of God expresses the fullness of their meaning, inciting Christian life to continuous renewal, so that what is heard at the liturgical celebration may also be put in to practice in life. Conclusion How fully convinced is the Church in her members, clergy, and laity in the liturgical celebrations entrusted to them? What is the level of commitment to the mysteries she celebrates? What efforts are made to appropriate the fruits of the celebrations as to become part and parcel of both the celebrants and the participants? 137
May be the Church in her members needs to be clearly reminded that the liturgical celebrations are simply, entrusted to her by Christ. These celebrations are mysteries of Christ entrusted to the priests to celebrate with specific instructions on how to get about them (like the manual of motor cars) with the aim of achieving the total transformation, sanctification, edification of the people of God, and for the glorification of God. The mysteries belong exclusively to Christ himself and he determines through the Church how best to celebrate it for his mystical body. It is not mine nor ours to do as we like. The vow of obedience comes in fully here. Against background, the observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart. A merely external observation of norms would obviously be contrary to the nature of Sacred Liturgy, in which Christ himself wishes to gather his Church, so that together with himself she will be one body and one spirit. For this reason, external actions must be illuminated by faith and charity which unite us with Christ and with one another and engender love for the poor and the abandoned. The liturgical words and rites, moreover, are a faithful expression, matured over the centuries, of the understanding of Christ, and they teach us to think as he himself does; by conforming our minds to these words, raise our hearts to the Lord. The secret of a living liturgy for the People of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi lies on a liturgy that is Trinitarian amid theological; Christocentric and pneumatological/epiclectic; faithful to the official liturgical guidelines and dynamic; creative and innovative; ritualistic and inculturational; paschal mystery oriented and ecclesial; communitarian and personal; biblical and prophetic; sanctoral and Marian; sacramental and devotional; magisterial and historical; transformative and sanctifying; edifying and God glorifying; anamnetic and mimetic; missionary and therapeutic; ecumenical and open to inter religious dialogue; ancestral and cyclical liberative social justice oriented and eschatological.
“ the Ozo title-taking still poses serious threat to true Catholic Christian life among its members and aspirants.” The principles and criteria employed in handling this major but delicate issue will become obvious as we proceed. A. THE OZO TITLE INSTITUTION
Principles, Criteria and Major Areas of Inculturation
By Rev. Fr. Dr. Raymond C. Arazu, Cs.sp Paper Presented at the First Diocesan Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, 3-10 April 2005, in St. Michael's Parish Hall Eziora- Ozubulu On 5 April, Tuesday, 9:30 - 10:00am
Ozo is to be distinguished from other titles in Igbo land that are not ozo. Every title taking in Igbo-land involves the paying of fees and a feast, which is at times quite elaborate. Ozo has these in common with other titles but what makes Ozo a special title distinct from others is the rite or ritual of initiation. In fact it is the rite of initiation that is called Ozo and not paying of fees or the making of a feast. Ozo is an Igbo cultural event through which a person achieves personal dignity and attains maturity by means of ritual initiations. A title that is inherited will prove not to be ozo when examined closely. Even when conferred on a child, the institution helps that child to grow and mature as only an ozo personality could make it in the Igbo set up. B. THE CHURCH'S DECREE ON OZO TITLE TAKING
Without thorough research, the Catholic Church authorities in this part of the country issued a Decree which was published in the Torch magazine of March 23, 1961:“Decree on Ozo Title taking The Catholic who is to take the title will pay the required sum, which money will be distributed in the traditional way. (ii.) No part of this money is to be set aside for any deity or spirits or deceased ancestors; if this has been part of the tradition it must now be ruled out. (iii.) No native sacrifice of any kind will be offered either by the person taking the title or by any of the titled on the occasion of this award title. (iv.) The sacrifice of the Mass will be offered for the person taking the title, the stipend to come from the money paid to the title holders. (v.) There may be a feast to celebrate the occasion, but no food that is offered in sacrifice will be allowed at the feast, and no part of the food will be left for any idol or spirit. (vi.) There will be no insignia such as “osisi” (i.e. ofo) that has connection with idolatry or ancestor worship. The ankle-string and eagle feather may be allowed, but these will be blessed with holy water and must not touch any idol or shrine. (vii.) It must never be considered that the titled man is a member of any priest hood or of any hidden cult” 140 (i.)
INTRODUCTION The Lineamenta for the Synod borrowed from the article written by LA. Tetlow in the New Catholic Encyclopaedia 1967 ed., “Inculturation, Theological”: “The concept of inculturation has been shown to imply the following: First, that every culture owns true and beautiful religious elements before the Gospel message is proclaimed within it; second, that the Gospel message can be effectively proclaimed only upon condition that Evangelisation is preceded by a thorough comprehension of, immersion into, and adoption of the culture itself by those who are to proclaim the Gospel; and finally, that the act of faith-commitment itself will be culturally shaped, and similarly, the consequent articulations of faith in theologies, ecclesiologies, and ascetical practices and theories,” must be authentic. The time allotted to my paper would hardly suffice for one major area of inculturation that creates perennial problems for Church authority. The Synod's Instrumentum Laboris states that 139
EVALUATION OF THE DECREE
The above “Decree On Ozo Title-Taking” reflected pre-Vatican II thinking on Religious Freedom. The Decree infringed seriously on the religious freedom of the Traditional Religionists who were the custodians and owners of the Ozo institution. According to Msgr. Pietro Pavan :“... Throughout the centuries men living within the Christian society were not accorded the right to profess their religion if this was not held to be the true one. This practice was very wide spread, in terms of both space and time, and the factors which had led to it are manifold and complex ... Among these elements we must mention especially one, according to which rights are based directly on spiritual values, that is to say, on truth and goodness; hence the so often repeated, seemiiigly self evident principle: truth has all the rights, error has no right. “According to this view only he who is in the truth has the right to profess it, because only truth can communicate this right; on the other hand the man who is in error has no right to profess it, for error cannot communicate any right ... However, the confession of an erroneous religion may be tolerated so as to avoid greater evils, according to the example of God, who, though he does not will error and evil, yet permits or tolerates both in view of a greater good, as is taught in the parables of the tares among the wheat (Mt. 13, 30 42).” For those who drafted the “Decree on Ozo Title Taking”, Christianity was the truth enjoying all rights to religious liberty while “paganism” (Traditional Religion) represented falsehood and therefore had no rights to religious or any other liberty. Vatican II condemned this way of thinking with all its practical consequences: “The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself... This right of the human person to religious freedom must be so recognised in the constitutional law whereby society is governed that the right becomes a civil right.”7 The Church goes further to determine the limits of this new found religious liberty that is vested not on truth but on the human person as a person: “This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, of social groups or of any human power, in such wise that in religions matters no one should be forced to act 141
against his conscience or restrained from acting according to his conscience, whether privately o publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” This shift from “the right of truth” to “the right of the human person” is the achievement of Vatican 11 as Msgr. Pavan admits: “But as regards religions freedom as a right of the person not to be prevented from practicing one's religion whatever it may be, the Church began to recognize this only in modern times and teaches it definitively in the present document.” “The Ozo Decree was pre-Vatican II and committed errors that Vatican II has corrected. It required “pagans” (Traditional Religionists) to perform their religious rite of Ozo initiation without offering the customary sacrifices to the gods they worshipped, and to pay for the stipend of the Mass that substitutes for “pagan” sacrifices, even when - the initiators are all of them “pagans” and only the candidate is a Christian. The Ozo Decree wants Christian candidates to prevent the “pagans” (Traditional Religionists) from following the dictates of their consciences and from carrying out publicly their Ozo cult of initiation, whenever a Christian candidate comes forward for it. The “pagans” sign the agreement documents drafted by the Church authorities, with mental reservation, which is manifest in their not following the terms of the agreements, immediately after Church representatives withdraw. D. THE REAL PROBLEM FOR CHRISTIANS IN TIHE OZO PHENOMENON
Ozo is not found throughout Igbo land. In those areas where it is found, it always involves a natural rite of initiation, which is apparent to the general public. In every town Ozo is taken in honour of some local deity or deities. Ozo has a spirituality that admits of polytheism at least in practice. It is the inner significance of Ozo that we are concerned with. For the Traditional Religionist (formerly called “pagan”) Ozo represents a means of salvation. Through it he escapes the human condition of powerlessness, and receives power from the gods, the kind of power he demonstrates with the number of chalk lines he describes on the sacred ground. The power in question is spiritual power, which the ofeke (non-Ozo member or initiate) is not supposed to possess. The spirituality of the ozo institution is polytheistic'. One proof of this assertion is in the document we are reproducing here in toto. This document produced by an 142
articulate group of Roman Catholics from Ihiala Town, nine years after the Church's “Decree on Ozo”, (1970), speaks for itself:“A MEMORANDUM ON OZO TITLE - TAKING IN IHIALA CLAN “We, the undersigned members of the Catholic Community of Ihiala, humbly submit the following memorandum on the above subject for the attention of the Catholic Authorities in charge of Ihiala Parish: “1. It would have taken much ink and paper to write a memorandum on Ozo-title-taking in Ihiala, if we were writing for the attention of ex-patriate priests who were completely ignorant of pagan culture in Igbo land, but it is not so in this case. Pagan tradition and customs in Igboland, and indeed in the whole of West Africa, are the same everywhere or nearly the same and this suggests a common origin or long association of the inhabitants of West Africa in the distant past. In this memorandum we are going to deal only with some of those aspects of the Ozo title- taking in Ihiala which appear to us to contradict Christian teaching as we understand it, especially in relation to the first of the Ten Commandments, which we were told cannot be changed to suit local conditions. We, therefore, humbly suggest that more enquiry should be conducted into those aspects, and more time taken to sift the results, in order to avoid falling from one error to another in the name of expediency. “2. In spite of the onslaught of Christianity on paganism and pagan traditions in Igbo land, three pagan practices among others appear to resist oppression, even among many Christians. Those are: (a) Ima Mmanwu (Masquerade), (b) Ozo- title -taking and (c) Polygamy “In each case, a Christian advocate of these practices is always ready with his excuses and even challenges such as, “where is it written in the Bible?” But we are concerned here with the Ozo title -taking in Ihiala clan. “3. THE AIM OF OZO - TITLE TAKING
according to them, it increases one's prestige in the society. But the original aim and the most important of all for the pagans in Ihiala in taking the Ozo title has always been to appease and propitiate their highest god, 'Urasi Ihiala', whom they believe up till today is the protector of life and property, and the giver of fertility to men and animals in Ihiala. Thus if a family is visited by premature death of wife or children, or loss of property, or some serious disease, or if a man has a wife but no children, or if crops fail to give the expected yield, the interpretation has always been that Urasi Ihiala is angry with the family so afflicted and that to avoid a recurrence of such misfortunes, Urasi Ihiala must be appeased or befriended. For the pagans, the most fruitful way of making peace with Urasi Ihiala is to take the Ozo title and in doing this, the Ihiala pagan concerned is not looking for increased prestige but he is fulfilling a religious obligation necessary for the realization of his dreams. Social and economic aims for taking Ozo title in Ihiala are always secondary - very secondary, and more often than not, a camouflage because in Ihiala the pagans with all their titles, feel inferior to a Christian who has the means to feed well and to train his children and more so if the Christian lives in a good house and owns a car. The pagans also accept the leadership of educated non-titled men among Christians in political, social and economic matters. It is only when discussing pagan religious matters that a titled pagan has a say and it is here that an ambitious Christian wants that prestige conferred on him by Ozo title taking. Prestige, indeed! “4. THE MEANING OF THE WORD OZO IN IHIALA CLAN: In Ihiala, as elsewhere in Igboland, the word 'Ozo' is used in two senses: (a) (b) as a collective noun to refer to the five stages of pagan “sacraments” in Ihiala, namely, Uhie-jioku, Akpa - Aja, Ikpo - Iku - mmuo and Ida-namkpu; as an adjective to indicate which stage or sacrament you are talking about, e.g. Ozo Uhie-jioku, Ozo Akpa-aja etc.
No other meaning, except the above exists in Ihiala, whether the title is taken by a Christian or by a pagan. It is by taking these “sacraments” that a man purifies himself and appeases the idol in the town since eaáh is associated with a certain god, but the greatest is Urasi Ihiala. “The word iku-mmuo literally means 'to appease the idol'. The five 'Sacraments' are normally taken in stages, according to the resources of the candidate, but they may all be taken in one day by a man of substance. Every Christian who has taken the ozo title takes the first and the second, the third and the fourth 'sacraments' in 144
It appears to us that the most important approach to the study of Ozo title-taking in Ihiala is to examine the aim or aims behind the practice, since as they say, 'the end may or may not justify the means'. “In Ihiala as elsewhere in Igbo land, Ozo title is something more than a social affair. Many Christians take it today because, 143
one day. The fifth one, Ida-na-mkpu is, by tradition reserved for certain selected elders. And only a few Christians may interfere with that arrangement. Thus, if you ask an Ihiala Christian how far he has gone with his ozo title-taking, he may proudly reply: 'I finished all at a go!' 'All' here means the first four 'sacraments' and nothing else. “5. WHO CONFERS THE OZO TITLE?
which the river flows. Okija town is another and typical example. Chukwu is only one of the gods worshipped or invoked in all these and other towns but the Ozo event pays no tribute or cult to Chukwu. A type of Ozo is devoted to the worship of this male divinity, Ulasi. In Ihembosi town the Ozo for women is dedicated to the cult of the River ubu, which flows into Ulasi at Ihembosi. When we say that Urasi (or Ulasi) Ihiala is to be regarded as a god, we can only make this statement in English. It is impossible to say it in Igbo because Igbo language has no single term or word for the English word “god”. We are coming nearer to the solution to the Ozo problem. I have discussed the problem of the absence of an Igbo word for “god” adnauseam, and in so many publications. Let us borrow the English word “god” and make it an lgbo term and some of our problems would be resolved. Chukwu is a proper name like Jahweh. It is not the generic word for divinity. We must get used to this shift in our understanding of divinity, The Catechism question Chukwu one di? (How many chukwus are there?) Must be re-framed to come out as 'God' one di? Answer: soso ofu 'God' di, nya bu Chukwu m'obu Chineke
We are not interested in whether the person taking the ozo title provides the goats, sheep, fowl etc. himself or whether he pays money 'cash down' to obtain the title. But it is here that many inquirers exhaust their wits. To us, the two methods mean the same thing. That is why we attach much more importance to the examination of the aim or aims of Ozo title - taking (cf. - par. 3 above). But here, we want to show that the high priest who administers the five 'sacraments' treated in section four is no other than a pagan priest. The method of administering the Ozo title has been handed down to us by pagan tradition. Apart from the traditional things done, traditional words are used when conferring the Ozo title. They use formulae; just as Christians do when administering the Sacrament of Baptism etc. the candidate chooses his own title name, which is either Ezike or Ezenoma. He stays about 24 days indoors serving the idols and at the end of that period he takes some offerings to Urasi Ihiala and the ceremony comes to an end. If any serious misfortune befalls him during that period, it would be taken to mean that the gods are still angry with him. The Ozo titleholder is entitled to second burial ceremony to make sure that he returns safely to the gods. E. FACING THE PROBLEM OF POLYTHEISM
At the root of the Ozo problem for Christian is the issue of polytheism - the cult of so many gods. The axe must be laid at the root of the tree of polytheism if the Ozo and so many other problems are going to be solved once and for all. Time without number have I continued to insist that the issue of Polytheism is very often swept under the carpet of missionary propaganda and cathechesis by our theologians who claim without objective proof that the Igbo people were monotheists i.e. worshipped only one Supreme Being or god before the missionaries came. A careful study of the “Memorandum On Ozo Title - Taking in Ihiala Clan” documented above, reveals that so much evidence of Igbo polytheism, is contained in the document. It is this polytheism that prevents Christians from embracing the Ozo institution for fear of Syncretism in their religious practice. That the spirit of the Urasi River (Ulasi River) is given divine worship is true of Ihiala and Ihembosi towns. In fact it is given worship in all the towns through 145
Urasi obu 'god'? Is Urasi god? Mba, Urasi aburo god. No, Ulasi in not a god. Ani obu “god'? Is Ani a god? Mba Ani Aburo god. No Ani is not a god. Onye bu God? Who then is God? Chukwu (Chineke) bu God Chukwu (Chineke) is God (among all these others) Soso ofu God di! Only one God exists! Fa di onye ato na ofu God afu; There are three persons in the one God; Chukwu, Nwa (okpala) na Muo Nso Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Anyi ama efezi god ozo beelu so chukwu (Nna), We shall not worship any Nwa (Okpala) na Muo - Nso! ‘god' other than (Father), Son and Holy Spirit Fa n'ato bu soso ofu god! They are three persons in one god! God adiro abuo God is not two. Even the Traditional religionist is to be regarded as a potential believer in ONE GOD, which is universally accepted today. The word 'Chukwu' should never again be used to stand in for the generic word 'god'. Such a use of the word 146
Chukwu or Chineke reduces the divine person to an idea or a concept and our prayers become misdirected and therefore ineffective. Our theology gets fossilized and missionary activity yields negative results. With Chukwu rightly declared the Father in the divine nature which is designated as 'god', theology gets a boost in the Igbo culture and all these so called 'gods' of Igbo traditional religion die a natural death in the sub conscious and consciousness of lgbo people and not just of Igbo Christians and the problem in the Ozo cultural event disappears. There would be no 'gods' to propitiate for there is only one god. Soso ofu god di! This statement is not the same as to say soso ofu Chukwu di because Soso ofu Urasi di! Only one Urasi is! Soso ofu Ani di! Only one Ani is! Soso ofu Agwunsi di! Only one Agwunsi is! 'Soso ofu god di! (Only one god exists) is the statement that sweeps clean the Igbo pantheon leaving only Chukwu who is the first of three persons in the one nature which is god. Chukwu or chineke is the first of the three persons in this one nature - god (a word that does not exist in the Igbo language). F. THE PAULINE PRINCIPLES According to St. Paul, the sacrifices done by pagans are offered to demons and not to the true God: “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagan sacrifice, they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” This text should be read in the light of “the Song of Moses” in the Book of Deuteronomy, especially where it states that “They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominable practices they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons which were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come in of late whom your fathers had never dreaded” It is the easy way out to take such quotations from the Old and New Testaments and apply them straight on to the practices of our traditional religionists. But in the light of Vatican II's Declaration On Religious Freedom, which we considered 147
above, we are cautioned to stop interfering in the affairs of other peoples' religion. God will judge people according to their consciences and not according to ours. Paul's main thesis is that since the idol or false god is nothing, the (sacrifice) offered to it has no value on the spiritual level. For those who think along this line, 15 “all things are lawful.” Such people, who are convinced that these “false gods” (idols) are not anything, can accept food offered to them by anybody, Christian or pagan, without qualms of conscience. This is because the issue of idolatry is out of question because of the stage of enlightenment in which such candidates have arrived. Many Corinthians had arrived at this stage on account of their meticulous following and understanding of St. Paul's teaching and example. But Paul was not only a teacher. He was a pastor with all kinds of people under his care. He had to provide for everybody. For the enlightened minds among his flock 16 “all things are lawful.” This principle is all right for those who have dismissed from their consciousness the idea that “these gods” (e.g. Urasi, Uhiejioku, Agwunsi etc) really exist, as gods. All things are lawful for those who have accepted that there is only One God. The second principle proposed by Paul is the one that Moral Theology calls the Scandal of the weak. It is all right for the intellectual genius to perceive the non-existence of these other gods (as gods) even from the philosophical perspective. Other people not endowed with such intellectual and other gifts may still think that such gods exist as gods and therefore that sacrifices and cult given to them are something. Paul foreseeing a situation where these different kinds of people live together even in the Christian fold warned that: “All things are but not all things are helpful, “All things are lawful,' but not all things build up.” The principle of Scandal of the weak is one of pastoral concern, which Paul enunciated with precision; “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” But the paradox was not resolved by Paul: “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience… if one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (But if some one says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice', then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience' sake - I mean his conscience, not yours - do not eat it.). For why 18 should my liberty be determined by another man's scruples?” 148
An Ozo man once told me: N'oma ese, m'onye eji nke ya ama ekwe
CHRISTMAS CAROL There should be no quarrelling (in this place), but the man whose property is withheld must continue to protest! 1. JESU BU NZE OZO CHORUS: BENE BENE!
This is the paradox of life. The enlightened mind goes ahead to clear new grounds. All these 'gods' of Igbo traditional religion have to be dismissed from our consciousness or reassigned other roles as has been done elsewhere. With this done, inculturation would be accomplished here in Igbo land. This is a great assignment for our local Church and indeed for the whole Church in West Africa. In the tradition of the Igbos of Nigeria, for example, the gods are many: Chukwu. Ana, Anyanwu - Na - Eze - Enu, Agwunsi. Amadioha etc. According to J. Omosade Awolalu and F. Adeluma Dopamu, the divinities of West Africa “are many, and their number varies from locality to locality. Among the Yoruba, for example, the number varies between 201, 401, 600 and 1700. But among the Igbo, Nupe, Akan, and Mende, the number is not as large” All these divinities could not disappear overnight or be described as demons. After all, the Hebrew God had an immense entourage. Why should the Igbo Chukwu, the Yoruba Oludumare, the Akan Nyame, and the Mende Ngewo have no entourage in their heavenly kingdom, since they are names for the same God whom the Prophet Daniel saw in his night visions: “As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was Ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand (100,000,000 - one hundred million) stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened” This is the court of Chukwu (Chineke) in heaven. Chukwu is God the Father. He is El Shaddai. He is Ehier Asher Ehier (I am that I am). He is Elohim (all the gods), all in himself. With Chukwu as Ancient of Days of the Prophet Daniel, all the other “gods” of the Igbo pantheon should be regarded as angelic forces. We have been using the Hebrew Cabala, which Medieval Christians used to portray the nine choirs of angels, to re-assign our Igbo divinities, giving them new roles on the Tree of Life of the Cabala. Jesus the Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity by becoming man has taken to himself the Ozo Insitution, thus becoming Nze Ozo. There was a hymn I composed many years ago Jesu Bu Nze Ozo: 149
Jesu bu nze ozo Onye buru uzo diri adi! Nya ka nwanyi turu ime ya, Muo Ya n'uchichi, Muo Ya n'uno ohia! Jesu bu nze ozo Ndi war'anya biar' ije, Che ihu n'oma igwe; Kpakpando e duru ha, Si ha ha sobe ya. Jesu bu nze ozo Ndi war'auya biari' ije, Che ihu n'oma igwe; Herod afuna ha: Si ha butere y'ozi Jesu bu nze ozo Herod a miri mma,, Gbupia umu e ku u'aka. Jesu bu nze ozo Nya bu Eze Ge degwum! Nya bu Igwe, tobe Ya! Onye furu nu azu Y'anya! Tuo Ya: “Okaa O mee!” Anyanwu-n 'eze-enu! Nya bu eze ama-ama n'uwa! Eze Nna nyer'ike eh! Eze uwe uwa nine! Eze a muru na mma! Eze n'ewu n'igwe! Eze k'eze nine! 150
Jesu bu nze ozo! Eze Chi Ya di n'enu! Eze kpakpando igwe! Eze nwe amuma mmiri! Jesu bu nze ozo! Eze ozo mgbe nine!
Unpublished “Memoranda On Ozo Title - Taking In Ihiala Clan,” signed by the authors, Aug. 8, 1970, St. Martin's Parish, the only Parish in Ihiala then, cf. Arazu, op. cit., Pp. 148 - 152. Arazu, op. cit., 210 - 211,246. 1 Cor. 19-22 R.S.V Deut. 32: 16 - 17 1 Cor. 10:23 cf. 10: 19 1 Cor. 10:23 1 Cor. 10:25 29 West African Traditional Religion Onibonoje Press and Book Industries (Nig.) Ltd., Ibadan, 1979, p. 74. Daniel 7: 9 - 10 Ex.3:14 Arazu - Jesu bu Nze ozo, Abu -Oma Nke Bible Liz Press Services Ltd., Enugu, 1993 Printed by SNAAP Press Ltd. Enugu, pp. 92-93 Arazu, Man Know Thyself, SNAAP Press, Ltd., Enugu, 2003, pp. 126 178.
127. 1314 1516171819202122-
(The chorus comes after each verse and both are then repeated on a higher pitch). In the above hymn, which is widely used, the Ozo institution is transferred to the kingdom of Jesus the Christ. With this transfer, celebrated in this hymn, Ozo is rid of every trace of idolatry. The hymn is used as a Christmas Carol. NOTES 123Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, first Diocesan Synod, 3 - 10 April, 2005, LINEAMENTA p. 28. ibid., Instrumentum Laboris art. 61, P. 38 R. C. Arazu, “The Moral Implications of Ogbu-ehi (Cow- Killer) in the “Ozo” Phenomenon in Igbo Culture, Unpublished P.H.D. Thesis in the Pontificia Universitas Lateranensis, Academia Aiphonsiana, Roma, 1972, p. 29. ibid., p.31 The Torch, No. 24, March 23, 1961, cf. Arazu, op. cit. p. 145. Msgr. Pietro Pavan, “Declaration On Religious Freedom,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II Burns & OatesfHerder, 1969, pp. 81 - 82; cf. Arazu, op. cit. p. 386. Declaration On Religious Freedom Of Vatican II Paulist Press, New York, 1966, Art. 2, pp. 66 - 67, cf. Arazu, op. cit. p. 387. ibid.Art.2, p.66. Pavan, Art. cit., pp. 83 - 84 Arazu, op. cit. pp. 148 -152 151
On religious dialogue specifically, I believe I enjoy also some advantage with my assigned theme. For some fifteen years, our illustrious compatriot, elder brother and father, His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze (the emeritus Archbishop of Onitsha), headed the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID, 1985-2003) in the Vatican. He not only travelled round the world explaining to people what religious dialogue means for the Catholic Church, he came home every year to teach us graciously the content and significance of religious dialogue.
Dialogue at Depth-level between Igbo Indigenous Religion and the Catholic Faith; the way forward in Nnewi Catholic Diocese.
Fr. Christopher I. Ejizu Faculty of Humanities University of Port Harcourt Distinguished members and participants of the historic First Nnewi Catholic Diocesan Synod, My Lord, the Bishop, The Vicar General, and the Episcopal Vicars, The Chancellor and Other Officials of the Diocesan Administration, Religious Superiors, and Officers of Various Statutory Bodies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Introduction: I have been asked to reflect with you on the theme of dialogue. I consider myself somehow fortunate, firstly because the word, dialogue, is undeniably a most popular term on people's lips these days in the country. Nigerians are currently engaged in a serious political debate, otherwise known as the National Dialogue, to determine the shape and course of events in the country. The presumption is that most, if not all of us gathered here, already have some good idea of what the word, dialogue, denotes. 153
One could argue though, that while both the national political dialogue currently in progress in Abuja and the briefings Cardinal Arinze gave us annually about his work in PCID, may be positive dispositions for a better appreciation of the term dialogue, they do not adequately open up the vents on my topic. On the other hand, the extensive preparation for this historic synod included a diocesan-wide study. You recall that the Working Document (Lineamenta) which guided studies in the parishes gave a full chapter (Chapter Four, pages 47 - 54) to the treatment of Dialogue. Even the chapter on Inculturation (Chapter Three), is better read as a corollary of the chapter on Dialogue. For, as many experts tend to suggest, inculturation is better understood theologically as a fruit of creative religious dialogue. Be that as it may, I take as my immediate point of departure in this paper the issues and insight highlighted in the section on Dialogue, that is Chapter Four of the Lineamenta for the Synod. Defining the Focus: My task in this paper, as I understand it, is not to rehearse what you already have in the lineamenta. That would be boring and unfair. I plan rather to propose certain practical measures and steps for our further discussion and collective reflection. I hope I am not being too optimistic and presumptive by suggesting that the practical measures I highlight, would provide the better way forward for a productive religious dialogue for our young Diocese. a) The General Notion of Dialogue; Dialogue, as a word, has a wide connotation with several trajectories. I need therefore, to attempt some basic definition of the term and delimitation of my focus so that we have a clear and precise idea of the meaning and particular trajectory we follow in this paper. From its Greek root (dia-logos), the term dialogue implies some kind of interlocution between two people, partners or parties. As opposed to monologue (mono-logos), it is essentially a two-way exchange. It immediately connotes the idea of passing information or instruction. 154
It is generally motivated by the desire to learn something from the other, as well as a willingness to share what one has with the other. Dialogue in general, is best conducted between two full-fledged partners. But it need not always be. It could take place between a senior and junior partner, a victor and vanquished. Mutual dialogue, in any case, has as its aim the growth and enrichment of the two parties engaged in the interlocution. As such, the parties must be disposed to listen and to learn, patiently if need be, from each other. b) Religious Dialogue, a Species; Religious Dialogue is a species within the broad framework of dialogue in general. It is, as the lineamenta (referring to Cardinal Arinze) correctly describes it, the interlocution of people of two or more different religions in sincere and humble openness about values of each other's faith. Hear the words of Cardinal Arinze directly: dialogue is “a meeting of hearts and minds across frontiers. It is a meeting of sincere believers who want each to listen to the other, to try to understand the religion of the other, to identify areas of convergence and divergence and to study together what they can do together” (Quoted in the Lineamenta 2004: 49). Religious dialogue properly understood, comprehends a variety of interlocutions between members of different religious faiths. It includes those between Christians and Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, or Catholics and Igbo Indigenous Religious faithful. One could follow the lead of experts and simply classify forms of religious dialogue into the two broad categories of the dialogue of life, and formally organized types. The dialogue of faith (which often takes place in the cave of the hearts of individual converts, and general cooperation belong to the first category, while the dialogue of work, academic dialogue and spiritual dialogue, all belong to the second typology. Religious dialogue is an important activity that has a number of aims including the promotion of mutual understanding and harmonious co-existence in a plural religious environment like ours (that is, a society in which you have people belonging to, and practising two or more different religions). Religious tolerance is not dialogue. Nor should religious dialogue be confused with convert-making. Genuine religious dialogue might in some cases result in conversion, but that is not really its aim. Because of the fundamental emotional nature of religion, interreligious dialogue calls for openness of mind, maturity, deep faith and conviction, study and mutual respect. Incidentally, the dialogue-encounter we are invited to reflect upon in this paper is not planned to be a total and full-scale one, but partial and over certain specific issues of concern to the two parties; Roman Catholics and Indigenous Igbo 155
Religion adherents. The working document lists some major issues as well as spells out certain lines of approach. The list includes, but not limited to the following: oath-taking, covenant-making (Igba Ndu), traditional healing practices, polygamy. I should also add to the list the following topical issues: traditional titles, custody of Ofo symbol (lineage Ofo - Ofo Umunna/Ofo Isiobi), as well as communal shrines and objects of worship of prominent lineage deities, masquerades, obsequies and funeral rites, inheritance, and widowhood. The list and priority of issues vary from one community to another. Igbo Indigenous Religion, At the Crossroads: One may begin to wonder the justification for expending scarce resources of men and material on a religion that is fast dying out, or dead already. Yes, Igbo Religion may not currently have more than 15% of active adherents of the total population of the Diocese. The religion that, not too long ago, was the dominant faith of the entire population of Igboland, is now sharply on the decline. It is indeed, a weak and numerically disadvantaged partner of the religious dialogue. But I should remind you that in matters of faith, statistics never tell the whole story. Besides, it is interesting that most, if not all, of the issues listed above as being of concern to us in the dialogue, stem from, or they are elements fuelled by Igbo Indigenous Religion. Those issues, and others not listed, are clear indices of the resilience and the inner dynamics of the religion. Igbo Indigenous Religion is full-fledged and has many of the key elements found in many other religions of humankind. Fathers Aime Ganot and Charles Vogler who produced the first Igbo Catholic Catechism (Katekism Nk'Okwukwe Nzuko Katolik N'Asusu Igbo) in 1901-1903, clearly appreciated that fact. By way of a systematic analysis, one could distinguish the following key elements in the structure of Igbo Indigenous Religion: i) Belief in Chukwu/Chineke/Olisa, (a sky dwelling spiritual being); ii) Belief in Ndi-Mmuo, Umu-Alusi, Ohu-Mmuo, na Nnu-Mmuo and Akaliogeli (Deities [major and minor], spirit forces, numerous nameless spirits and capricious cosmic forces); iii) Belief in Ndi-ichie/Ndi mbu na ndi egede (ancestors) iv) Belief in Inyo uwa na Ogbanje (partial reincarnation) v) Belief in the power and effectiveness of ritual objects and symbols, ritual Practices including sacrifice, divination, medicine-making, charms, sorcery, witchcraft, etc. vi) Importance of Ritual Experts/officiants (Isi-mmuo, Umu Dibia na Ndi Afa) vii) Essential characteristic of pervasiveness or omni-presence of religion in life, and a holistic view of life. 156
The traditional cosmology, which undergirds and sustains the key beliefs and rituals, as well as inspires the fundamental values and attitude of the people, must be understood as foundational and overarching. That world-view outlines two basic orders of things in the universe: the visible and the invisible, the world of men and the world of spirits and cosmic beings. The human world is the centre. But, spiritual beings are much more powerful. They could cause and influence the course of events in people's life. Indeed, they are believed to cause accidents, miscarriage, sickness and disease, failure in business, or premature death. Or they could foster wealth, good life and success. Nothing happens per chance (Ife ada-eme na nkiti). The same cosmology provides the explanation as well as the means and method for predicting and controlling space-time occurrences and developments. The ritual and ethical implications of Igbo traditional cosmology are farreaching. Man maintains the dynamic equilibrium and rhythm believed to exist in the universe. Through constant ritual sacrifices and strict adherence to the taboos and norms of approved behaviour (Omenala), he is able to keep the capricious spirits at bay. Igbo fundamental perception of reality (worldview), is certainly the foundation of Igbo indigenous religion and culture. It is equally the key to unlock and grasp the underlying logic of most activities, values and basic attitude of the average Igbo. This is true of traditional adherents, as it is of many average Igbo Christians. Christianity, western civilization, modernity, etc. have no doubt, dislocated and relativised the indigenous culture and religion. But the fundamental Igbo view of life, its key value-sets and related attitudes, persist deep down in the inner recesses of hearts and minds of converts to Christianity, the urbanized, the educated and the widely travelled. Aylward Shorter correctly observed that the average African (including the Igbo in Nnewi Diocese), views Christianity as “sheer gain, an 'extra' for which he has opted. It is an overlay on his original religious culture”. (1975:14). The maestro, Obiligbo captures a similar sentiment in one of his songs (I go to church hoping to gain eternal life. I keep my traditional religious practice so that I continue to enjoy the good things of this life. As a living system, the traditional worldview and other aspects of Igbo Indigenous Religion and culture are dynamic. They continue to evolve and adjust to changing circumstances of life of the people. The deities are now served Fanta, Coke and biscuits at sacrifice. They live in zinc-roofed houses and tie wrapper of various colours. 157
The Catholic Church and Dialogue in Context: For the Catholic Church, inter-religious dialogue, …., is a witness to Christ. It is dialogue of salvation. It is part of the total mission of the Church (Lineamenta 2004: 50). The biblical and theological explanations for religious dialogue are well articulated in the Lineamenta. The document spells out also the correct understanding, significance, obstacles and safeguards for proper religious dialogue for Catholics. Jesus through his words and actions left his followers some clear message and mandate. He urges us to engage in dialogue with members of other faiths. Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the Jacob's well, holds out specific imperatives and internal demands (John 4: 1-26). The Church in our time, explains that inter-religious dialogue is “an inevitable response to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the world” (Lineamenta 2004: 50). Nnewi Diocese, no doubt, is still very young. However, the main types of religious dialogue (dialogue of life forms and formally organized types), discussed earlier in the paper, are not strange to us. The mother Archdiocese of Onitsha from which Nnewi Diocese was carved out three years ago (2002), has a good tradition of religious dialogue with adherents of the traditional religion. The successful reform of Ozo title in several communities, the rich ensemble of native musical tunes and diverse native instruments which form part and parcel of our liturgical and non-liturgical ceremonies, the different dance troupes owned by different parish women and men societies, are some of the enduring dividends of productive religious dialogue. There were of course, some sad episodes like the “Okuku Onye Uwa” saga in Awka with the terrible anguish and strife associated with it, or the controversy over funeral rituals and widowhood in Nri and Nanka respectively in mid-1970s and 1990s. Those notwithstanding, the notable contributions and witness of illustrious individuals, including late Msgr. Martin Maduka (Nna-di-ebube), Msgr. Cyril Ezenduka and his colleagues of the Onitsha Archdiocesan Music Commission (1972-1985), and Fr. Raymond Arazu C.S.Sp. and his Abu-oma troupe of Saint Martin's Parish Ihiala, late Fredrick Anyaegbunam (retired Judge of the Federal Court of Appeal) and late Atamanya Nzediegwu, R.R. Olisa (deceased Igwe of Ossomala), are worthy of special mention. 158
Need For a Radical Change of Attitude: The attitude of most European missionaries to Igboland in the 19 and 20 centuries towards the indigenous religion and culture was simply negative. Rev. John Christopher Taylor who referred to Igbo territory as “the citadel of Satan”, had his counterparts among the Irish and French Holy Ghost missionaries. Most thought of the people as primitive savage, while the mission-field passed as a battle ground against the forces of “paganism, heathenism” and superstition. They were a handful of exceptions, the likes of Frs. A. Ganot, C. Vogler, I.A. Correia, who took to heart the wise counsel of Fr. Libermann, (the co-founder of the Holy Ghost Congregation, Spiritans as they are better known today), to members of his society - “… to strip themselves of Europe”. By and large, the expatriate missionaries were children of their age. Most of them suffered the extreme ethnocentrism of the average westerner who came to Africa (subSahara) in the period shortly after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Whether they came to civilise or evangelise, for most Europeans of the time, the missionary enterprise made “sense only if one has a basically negative evolutionary view of the culture one is trying to change” (T.O Beidelman 1974: 242). It needs must be emphasized that the terribly negative attitude and iconoclastic tendency most of us still retain towards the Igbo Indigenous Religion and its adherents, their places of worship, cult symbols and different aspects of the culture, are what we inherited from the expatriate missionary and colonial era. Many people still live and behave towards their relations and others who are traditional religion adherents as if the documents of the Second Vatican Council (Ad Gentes, [Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church] and Dignitatis Humanis, [Declaration on Religious Liberty], in particular), have never been promulgated, or the freedom of religious affiliation and worship is not part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We need a radical change of attitude to Igbo Indigenous Religion and culture if we hope to make any progress in inter-religious dialogue in this Diocese. Neither Jesus nor Saint Paul referred to the Samaritan woman at the Jacob's well or the Athenians at the Areopagus (Acts 17: 22-28), in any negative or derogatory terms. Rather, as we read in the N.T. their respective interactions (Jesus and Paul) with the people were marked by mutual respect and esteem. The Way Forward; The Diocesan Liturgical Diary and Directory for 2005, shows that the Bishop and the diocesan administration have established the following offices with 159
functioning personnel; Coordinator of Inter-religious Dialogue, and the Commission for Cultural Matters. The first impression one gets, is that the two bodies already in existence are enough, at least for our level of needs at the present stage. I have not read the terms of reference for the different positions. Permit me however, to articulate what I consider an alternative strategy for a productive and creative inter-religious dialogue. Maybe by the time I explain the details of my proposal, the advantage of my alternative over the existing structures, may become clear. a) A New Approach: i. a three-man inter-religious dialogue committee (with one woman member) in every parish council, and deanery (if need be), ii a five-man diocesan inter-religious dialogue council (with a priest-secretary, and four others; two men, two women), for each Ecclesiastical Region(if need be), iii) a Diocesan inter-religious dialogue Day (for seminar, prayer and exhibition/dance competition). The three-man parish committee is a very important body in this three-tier arrangement for inter-religious dialogue. Only persons distinguished for their maturity and deep commitment to the Catholic faith, open-minded and knowledgeable, should be asked to serve in the committee. They become the official delegates of the parish for all issues concerning the Catholic faith and indigenous religious and cultural practices. They should maintain a good rapport, as well as organize occasional meetings with traditional elders and adherents of the indigenous religion for discussion of important matters of common or particular concern. They report and document their progress at regular meetings of the parish council. Every effort should be made to avoid a fire brigade approach to issues in the committee's apostolate. The diocesan council, on the other hand, should animate and coordinate the activities of regional and parish inter-religious dialogue committees. The council should also organize annual inter-religious dialogue seminars and exhibition/competition between Catholics and Igbo Indigenous Religion faithful. They should document and maintain a rich storage of vital data on relevant aspects of the indigenous religion and culture in the Diocese. They 160
should also be involved in assisting Catholics who choose to take traditional titles, or to undergo initiation into cultural title societies, age grade and similar institutions, in accordance with norms approved by the Church. The council should link up and cooperate with any similar body in neighboring dioceses of the Igbo-speaking region for mutual interaction and exchange of views. b) A Call to Action: I believe the time for the Diocese to act is now. For too long, the Church in our area has kept post-poning full-scale inter-religious dialogue with Igbo indigenous religion and culture. It is either “we have to proceed cautiously, or we must be careful to protect the young faith of our Catholics”. (Compare, for example, the concrete faith-life of the Igbo area with what prevails in some dioceses in other parts of Africa, such as Kumasi, Ghana). As a result of our over cautious approach to issues of inter-religious dialogue, the Christian faith still lies shallow in the life of many of the people. Or, many Catholics are forced to live in a liminal state, betwixt and between two worlds, or suffer and groan in silence under the weight of some misguided or poorly informed policy of the “church”. If we succeed in breaking the jinx, and doing away with timidity, our worn-out defense mechanisms, we would find that some useful preliminary steps have already been recorded on a number of specific issues. A few illustrations will serve to make the point. a) On Ofo Symbol; there is in existence a detailed study that provides the wide range of meaning, uses and structural forms and types of the important traditional symbol. The preeminence of Ofo Umunna/Ofo Isi-Obi with its dominant function of symbolic representation of the lineage is well highlighted in the study. In a related development, some of us recall the bold and faithinspired initiative of the late Atamanya Nzediegwu, Chief R.R. Olisa of Ossomala, on Ofo. With the support of the Church, the deceased king got his people to assent to his fabrication of a new Ofo Eze to replace the existing one that had been deployed in traditional religious worship. b). On Masquerades; let me remind you of the times and achievement of Nna-Di Ebube, late Msgr. M. Maduka. I doubt if any Igbo would ever rival the record of inter-religious dialogue at the deepest level, he single-handedly achieved. Traditional dance and masquerade were some of the notable fruits of his creative inter-religious dialogue. Did he not attend funerals of Catholics with his prestigious dance troupe, and the annual feast of All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha (1st November), with masquerades of various grades on a number of 161
occasions? What a challenge he left to our contemporary Catholic youths (male) to seriously consider “playing masquerade” as a possible means of permeating our traditional culture with the gospel values of love, peace and harmony. c). On inheritance; the bold initiative comes from our Diocese in this case. I gather that a father of an educated family with deep roots in the Catholic faith, not long ago, decided to will formally the prime family estate (Obi) not to any of his two sons, but to his unmarried daughter who had some adopted children. I need not remind you the kind of far-reaching implications his action, another fruit of productive inter-religious dialogue on an individual level, is bound to have. In another development, Awka Diocese, I gather, has published its detailed study of widowhood as well as the diocesan policy on inheritance, the status and care of widows. Our Diocese could gain some insight from their experience and work on the subject. d). On Traditional/Herbal Healing; the apostolate of herbal healing carried out in clean, open and modernised way, devoid of rituals and superstitious beliefs, is undoubtedly growing in this part of the country. Fr. Raymond Arazu C.S.Sp. runs popular herbal clinics in several towns. The Benedictine monks at Ewu, Edo State have thrown their full weight behind the practice. One should not forget the modest effort of Fr. Gilbert Ohai of blessed memory, who used to hold his Wednesday Dispensary at the Archdiocesan Secretariat, Onitsha. e). Further Comments; It is “morning yet on creation day” (Chinua Achebe). The above samples are only a little indication of the kind of creative dividend that could accrue from productive inter-religious dialogue, to the great relief of Catholics. The Diocese could decide to assign to the proposed diocesan interreligious dialogue council the job of fine-tuning the samples to ensure their full contextual relevance and applicability. The samples could then be approved and publicized for possible benefit to others in the Diocese. Furthermore, our Local Church needs to evolve an agenda for concrete and meaningful inter-religious dialogue. The talents and energy of our teeming youthful population are lying untapped. Gifted individuals (including clerics, the religious, and laity) should be encouraged to create more models in other areas of our cultural experience. In addition, the Diocese should consider setting up an inter-religious dialogue project centre (could be a parish or some other Church institution). Whichever agenda is adopted to guide practical action, it must be made abundantly clear that such a project is that of the Local Church, duly animated by the Bishop and actively involving the ecclesial community of the Diocese. 162
Conclusion: The image of the Church as “the family of God on mission”, is one that has special appeal to us in the Diocese. That image, I should remind you, was chosen not merely for the sake of being up-to-date, that is, in tune with the latest theological jargon. Rather, the image, as our Bishop continues to harp upon in several communications, is rich in biblical and theological connotation, in addition to its historical and cultural implications and significance. The landmark events of February 10, 2002, culminated in the canonical erection of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. It meant the establishment of a full-fledged Local Church. Those historic events connect our Local Church mystically to the mission of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world. Jesus Christ, in obedience to the Father, sent the apostles and the other disciples. The apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit, established local churches. In 1622 A.D. the Church, which had since the medieval times, left that mission in the hands of colonial overlords (particularly of Spain and Portugal), established the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of Faith (Propaganda Fide). Thenceforth, the mandate for bringing the gospel to oversea territories was given, through the canonical ius commissionis, to missionary bodies. For Southeastern Nigeria and its adjoining areas, French and Irish Fathers of the Holy Ghost Congregation and other religious missionary groups of women and men, got the official commission to bring us the good news under the direction of Propaganda Fide. The expatriate missionaries discharged their mandate with phenomenal success (1885 - 1970). On Feb. 10, 2002, the torch of faith in Jesus, the Christ, was passed on from Onitsha Archdiocese to us in Nnewi Diocese. That is a rough sketch of the historical sequence of events that have brought us to where we find ourselves today in our journey of faith in Jesus the Lord and Saviour. We are closely following in the footsteps of the founding fathers and models of our faith. As a full-fledged Local Church gathered together and under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God, we are indeed on mission, - mission to ourselves our land, our people, and our culture. (We equally have the mission 'ad extra' our borders, since we share in the universal mission of the Universal Church). We were commissioned in February 2002 for the all-important task, viz - to offer our people “the mystery of salvation and the life brought by God”(Ad Gentes, 10), to give to our people, our land and our culture the good news which “is subject to no culture but penetrates any culture” (E. Uzukwu 1985: 15). The solemn responsibility and eager expectation are that we make the good news grow, take 163
deep roots, become concrete, relevant, mature; nay, a way of life of our people. Only through serious and sustained dialogue between our Catholic faith and Igbo Indigenous Religion and culture, can we hope to make this happen. We have to take seriously to heart the instruction or admonition of the Pope himself (John Paul II) that, “a faith which does not become culture is a faith which has not been fully received, not thoroughly thought through, not fully lived”(L'Osservatore Romano, [June 28], 1982: 7-8). It has taken us only two years to pull together the table and chairs to sit down in this historic first diocesan synod. This is a marvellous record that nearly surpasses the record set by the early Church in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 15). (Special thanks and tribute to our God-sent Chief Shepherd, Most Rev. H.O. Okeke, for his energy, vision, foresighted leadership and sharp reflexes). How long will it take us to tackle the concrete issues that define our existence and relevance, only time will tell. Thank You, and God bless you all with a most fruitful Synod! Amen. Works Cited 1. The Holy Bible 2. The Documents of the Second Vatican Council Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. 3. T.O. Beidelman, “Social Theory and the Study of Christian Missions in Africa”, (Africa, Vol. XLIV. 1974). 4. A. Shorter, African Christian Theology (London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1975). 5. E. E Uzukwu, Evangelization in South-Eastern Nigeria, 1885-1985, (Spiritan Booklets, 2, 1985).
woman, slave or free; all are one in Christ (Gal. 3, 27 28). Indeed, unity is one of the essential marks of the Church. God wills the Church because he wills unity. Unity is an expression of his agape. It is a unity constituted by the bond of the profession of one faith, the sharing of the same sacraments and participation in hierarchical communion. To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity is to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father’s plan from all eternity. 2. The Scandal of Divisions Among Christians Unfortunately, contrary to the will of Christ on the unity of the Church, division and rancour have often been evident in the relationship of Christians down the ages. Already in the early Church there were disagreements among Christians on the legitimacy of eating of food offered to idols and the necessity of the circumcision of the gentiles. These differences were, however, quickly resolved (cf. Acts 15; Gal. 2). Similarly, there were factions in the Church of Corinth and Paul was swift to reprimand the members of that Christian community for tolerating division in their midst: “Has Christ been split up?” (1 Cor. 2, 13). Furthermore, in the early Church the unity of the believers in Christ was threatened by heresies such as Gnosticism, Montanism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Apollinarism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism, etc. Fathers of the Church, Councils and Synods strove, with varying degrees of success, to resolve the differences. At the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedron (451) there were visible marks of disunity among the early Christians occasioned by the Christological controversies. These led to the breaking away of the Oriental Churches. By 1054, Christians of the Latin and Greek rites were separated from each other with the excommunication of Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople by the Pope Leo IX. The disunity among Christians was further deepened by the Reformation that began in the sixteenth century, giving rise to Lutherianism, Zwinglianism, Anabaptists, Calvinism, Church of England, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterianism, etc. Since then the division among Christians has continued unabated. In present day Nigeria alone, for instance, there are over 1000 “Churches” or rather ecclesial bodies consisting of “mainstream Churches”, “Independent Churches”, “Spiritual Churches”, “Pentecostal Churches” and sects. Theologically, the differences existing between the mainstream Churches revolve mainly but not solely around the understanding of the Church, the sacraments (especially Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders), authority in 166
Ecumenical Dialogue And Relations
An Address by +Lucius Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia, Delivered at the Nnewi Diocesan Synod on 5.3.05
INTRODUCTION I wish to express my deep sentiments of gratitude to you for asking me to address you on the topic: “Ecumenical Dialogue and Relations” at your first Diocesan Synod with the theme: 'Living the Faith in the Family of God on mission in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi: “that Christ may live in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17)'. I congratulate His Lordship, Most Rev. Hilary Okeke, Bishop of Nnewi and all his collaborators for this noble initiative and for the wonderful way you have prepared for it. May this Synod promote the work of evangelisation in your diocese to the glory of God and for the salvation of souls. 1 Unity: An Essential Mark of the Church Our Divine Master and Saviour established one Church (Mt. 16, 18). He sent her to the world to proclaim and to witness, to make present and to spread the mystery of communion, which is essential to her, and to gather all things in him, so as to be for all an inseparable sacrament of unity. He, thus, prayed that all his followers might be one so that the world may know that it was he who sent them (Jn. 17, 21). For its part, the Gospel of John sees in the death of Jesus the ground for the unity of God's children: “Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God scattered abroad” (Jn. 11, 51 52). According to Paul, Christ actually “broke down the walls of hostilities through the Cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end; in place of division, he brought about unity (Eph. 2, 14 -16). Thus there is no more Jew or Gentile, man or 165
the Church, the intercessory role of Mary and the Saints, etc. In other areas of doctrine as well as in the liturgy and spirituality, there is a wider-ranging agreement among the Churches. Indeed what unites us is greater than what divides us. This notwithstanding, in the reformation and post reformation era, the relationship between the various Churches has been characterized by discord, mutual suspicion, distortion, slander, animosity and rancour. Reflecting over that relationship, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared: Without doubt this discord openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature. 3. Remorse Over the Scandal of Disunity It is noteworthy that Christians have not always been satisfied and comfortable with the state of division. It is at variance with the will of Christ and weakens the mission of the Church. Accordingly, prior to the twentieth century, there have been some attempts by the Churches at overcoming differences inherited from the past and re-establishing unity. In this regard, the efforts made at the Council of Florence (1439) and the Confession of Augsburg (1555) stand out. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Holy Spirit has touched the hearts of Christians worldwide and bestowed on them the spirit of remorse over their divisions as well as a longing for unity. In 1920 Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference were among the first to point out that the division among Christians is sinful and confessed that they, like other Christians, shared the responsibility for it. In their words: The causes of division lie deep in the past, and are by no means simple or wholly blameworthy. Yet none can doubt that self-will, ambition, and lack of charity among Christians have been principal factors in this complex process, and that these, together with blindness to the sin of disunion, are still mainly responsible for the breaches of Christendom. We acknowledge this condition of broken fellowship to be contrary to God's will, and we desire frankly to confess our share in the guilt of thus crippling the Body of Christ and hindering the activity of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, at the Conference held at Lausanne in 1927 involving many Churches, participants were invited to reflect on the divisions of the past with a spirit of repentance. At the assembly one opinion maintained that no division of Christianity would have taken place without sin. There was also 167
the opinion of those who look back at the divisions of the past in a spirit of repentance and sadness and with a lively sentiment of the divine mercy which, in spite of and perhaps through these divisions, has promoted the cause of God in the world. After the horrifying experiences of the Second World War, the first ecumenical assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948 declared: We come from Christian churches, which for a long time have been mutually misunderstood, ignored, and misrepresented; we come from countries that have been at war with each other, we are all sinners and heir of the sins of our fathers. We have not corresponded with the blessing that God has bestowed on us. Three months after his election, Pope Paul VI, on 29th September 1963, made that well-known statement on forgiveness for the sin of division in the Church of Christ: If we are in any way to blame for that separation, we humbly beg God's forgiveness and ask pardon too of our brethren who feel themselves to have been injured by us. For our part, we willingly forgive the injuries by which the Catholic Church has suffered, and forget the grief endured during the long series of dissensions and separations. Following the footsteps of Pope Paul VI, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated: St John has testified: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1,10). This holds good for sins against unity. Thus, in humble prayer we beg pardon of God and of our separated brethren, just as we forgive them that offended us. 4 Steps Towards Restoring Christian Unity at the Level of the Universal Church The mutual acknowledgement of guilt for the sin of division on the part of different Churches has helped to dispose Christians to ecumenical dialogue and fraternal collaboration. On her part, the Catholic Church solemnly committed herself to work towards Christian unity. She is convinced that the universal missionary mandate given to the Church to bring the Gospel to every creature makes ecumenical dialogue and collaboration a grave obligation. She stresses that ecumenical dialogue is therefore not an appendix or an optional extra for the Church and emphasizes that seeking unity among the followers of Christ is the 168
responsibility of the whole Church - clergy, religious and laity. The Second Vatican Council underscored this point when it is said: Concern for restoring unity pertains to the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the ability of each, whether it be exercised in daily Christian living or in theological and historical studies. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who often refers to ecumenism as the pastoral priority of his pontificate, forcefully stresses this point when he said: Thus it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of 'appendix', which is added to the Church's traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does. Over the years since the Second Vatican Council, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (PCPCU) has been working hard to promote ecumenical activities. Within the Catholic Church, it tries to foster the spirit of ecumenism in line with the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council. In addition, it fosters ecumenical dialogues with other Churches and World Communions with the ultimate hope and goal of restoring the presently divided Christians to visible unity in full communion of apostolic faith and sacramental life. Since 1968, twelve Catholic theologians have been full-time members of the “Faith and Order” Commission, the theological department of the World Council of Churches. Furthermore, it is worthy of note that the PCPCU is engaged in international bilateral dialogues with: i) the Orthodox Church, ii) the Coptic Orthodox Church, iii) the Malankara Churches, iv) the Anglican Communion, v) the Lutheran World Federation, vi) the World Alliance, vii) the World Methodist Council, viii) the Baptist World Alliance, ix) the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) and x) some Pentecostal Churches. The various bilateral dialogues between the Catholic Church and other Churches show that in seeking to come closer to one Church, she does not intend to exclude others in the sense of “clubbing” with one Church against others. These dialogues have produced wide-ranging agreements between the Roman Catholic Church and different Churches. Globally seen, the achievements of these dialogues have led to positive changes in the attitude of faithful of different Churches in many parts of the world towards one another. As Pope John Paul II observes in his encyclical letter, Ut Unum Sint: 169
Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters… There is increased awareness that we all belong to Christ… In a word, Christians haven been converted to a fraternal charity which embraces all Christ's disciples. It may be relevant to observe that Pope John Paul II devotes the second Chapter of Ut Unum Sint to discussing the fruits of ecumenical dialogue. Using it as guide, we can point out a few of the outstanding achievements. First, with reference to the Orthodox Churches of the East one can speak of the gradual rediscovery of one another as Sister Churches. The term, Sister Churches, has a deep theological meaning which indicates an acknowledgement of the other as being in the apostolic succession, having the same sacramental structure of the Church, the same Eucharist, the same priesthood and episcopacy, notwithstanding the long centuries of schism between Rome and Constantinople which stretches back to 1054. Second, fraternal relations have been restored with the Oriental Churches (i.e. Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopian, Armenian, and Malankara Orthodox Churches), which rejected the dogmatic formulations of the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) following the Christological controversies in the early Church. Third, with reference to relations with Churches originating from the Reformation of the 16th Century and thereafter, a number of important developments have taken place. Worth mentioning is the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutherans leading to the ratification of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. This event, which took place in Augsburg on October 31, 1999, brought to fruition several years of arduous ecumenical efforts and represents an important step on the way to the reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics. Concerning other doctrines disputed during the Reformation, such as the doctrine on baptism, Eucharist and ministry, significant mutual consensus has been reached in many areas and reflected in reports of dialogues in which the Catholic Church has engaged with various Churches. 170
5 Fostering Ecumenical Dialogue and Relations in the Local Church 5.1 Spiritual Ecumenism Spiritual Ecumenism is regarded as “the soul of all ecumenical movement.”. It consists in conversion of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians. Any ecumenical effort worth the name should be rooted in and sustained by it. 5.1.1 Leading a Life of Conversion As experts engage in theological dialogue and make tremendous progress that bring us closer and closer to one another, we should all keep in mind that we are not yet fully one; we are still separated and are still working toward full visible unity. We also need to be conscious of the fact that even though our generation of Christians may be absolved of the blame for the causes of separation in the past, we may not be completely without guilt in sustaining the wounds of division in the present day. Many of our misdeeds and utterances may have prolonged the wounds of the separation or even deepened it: sins of indifference, contempt, animosity, self-righteousness, arrogance, prejudice, bigotry, hostility, distortion, intrigue, etc. The age of ecumenism calls for a frank admission of guilt, a humble change of heart and a firm decision to advance the cause to full visible unity. We should unite in heart and mind with St Paul when he said: “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching for those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of high calling in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3, 13-14). Burying the raw and painful memories of yesteryears, the relationship between Catholics and Protestants should be characterized by the spirit of mutual love, understanding, trust, respect, tolerance, sincerity and cooperation. Indeed one of the greatest contributions Christians can make towards fostering unity would be striving after interior conversion of heart and embracing a lifestyle rooted in holiness and charity. By coming closer to Christ, through conversion, we shall become painfully aware of the contradictions in our lives. How can we continue proclaiming fidelity to the word of the Lord and yet continue to live contrary to his will on Christian unity (cf. Jn. 17, 21)? How can we continue to preach love and unity yet mutually cherish prejudice and hostilities against one another? How can we continue to preach forgiveness and yet be unforgiving to each other? These contradictions between what we proclaim as Christians and what we do are scandalous, bewildering and confusing to non-Christians. They impede the spread of the Gospel. 171
Furthermore, by coming closer to Christ through conversion, we come closer to one another. Genuine conversion should be evident in the practice of charity towards one another and in the effort to remove obstacles, rooted in human sin and weakness that keep us away from one another. True conversion leads to the adoption of an attitude of heart and mind which moves us to relate with one another with respect, understanding and hope: with respect because we recognize one another as brothers and sisters and regard one another as friends rather than opponents; with understanding, because we sincerely seek to discover the divine truths we share in common as well as recognize the difference in faith that lie between us; with hope that we may grow together in a more perfect knowledge and love of God and of Christ. 5.1.2 Praying for Christian Unity One very important way of promoting Christian unity is to pray for it. Christ himself who established one Church (Mt. 16, 18) and desired that there be one fold and one shepherd, prayed that his followers may be one for the credibility of their mission (Jn. 17, 21). Aware of the need for Christian unity, Christians of different confessions should emulate the footsteps of our Lord to pray individually in their Church for the healing of the wounds of division. Only God can bridge chasms so deep and so ancient. There is also need for joint or common prayers for Christian unity. This is because such sharing of prayers demonstrates the existing unity among believers in Christ, irrespective of their differences. Also such prayers in common, in which each participant refers to God as Father helps to remind us that we are brothers and sisters, notwithstanding our separation from one another. Traditionally the period from January 18 to 25 every year has been regarded as the Octave of Christian Unity or the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Christians are to utilise that period to foster Christian unity by praying together. This effort could also be deepened by the formation of small ecumenical groups from both Churches, made up of people that are mature in the faith, to observe an ecumenical hour of prayer on specified days, praying together for Christian unity and other needs of the Church and the secular world. However, in engaging in such ecumenical encounters in the area of worship, efforts should be made to let the faithful understand that even though we share some degree of communion, we have not attained full visible communion, namely, sharing the same faith, participating in the same sacramental life and ministry. Even though we are brethren, we are still separated. 172
5.2 Ecumenical Cooperation/Ecumenism of Action Service to the least of the Brethren is the responsibility of all Christians, irrespective of denomination. We can join forces in facing our social and civic responsibilities on town, state or national levels. We need not have consensus on all doctrinal issues to agree on the equal rights of all people and the need for the respect of human rights in our society; the need to work together against the pollution and degradation of environment; the need to work together to ensure free and fair elections; the need to join hands in the fight against poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS), sub-standard drugs, and other social ills. No true Catholic or Protestant can agree with gender based discrimination or support that minority groups in the nation should be denied their rights. Where there is gross violation of human rights, Catholics and Protestants can make common cause. To facilitate ecumenical cooperation, joint action commissions could be formed on the diocesan, parish or even state or local government levels, with well specified terms of reference. 5.3 Theological Ecumenism/Ecumenism of Experts There is also the need to become familiar with the outlook of our separated brethren. To do this, study is required and this is to be done in fidelity to the truth and with a spirit of good will. Catholics with solid theological training need to acquire a more adequate understanding of the respective doctrines of our separated brethren, their history, their spiritual and liturgical life, etc. More valuable for this purpose are meetings of the two sides for bilateral theological dialogues on those areas that are historically responsible for the separation between us and other denominations. To achieve this, there is a need in each diocese for the formation of an ecumenical commission/committee made up of competent theologians. Such a commission/committee could also help to study, promote and monitor the reception of and responses to the agreed statements of the International Ecumenical Commissions, involving the Catholic Church. As a way of promoting these agreed statements, bishops, priests, future priests, religious and competent lay people are to study the documents with a view to bringing them to the grassroots. 5.4 Formation in Ecumenism Since the restoration of Christian unity is the responsibility of every Christian, the clergy, religious and laity are to be committed to promoting increasing communion with other Christians. To fulfil this obligation, the formation of the faithful in the family, parish, school, different groups and pious associations 173
should have some ecumenical dimensions. Seminaries, and ongoing formation centres for pastoral workers should provide formation for future pastoral workers. The Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint of Pope John Paul II, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, Vatican City: Vatican Press 1993, by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of those Engaged in Pastoral Work by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, are all rich resources for the formation in Ecumenism. The aim and goal of ecumenical formation is that all Christians be animated with the ecumenical spirit. Conclusion Permit me to conclude my address with the words of the great Patriarch Atenagoras: “We need to succeed in disarming ourselves. I have fought this war. For years and years. It was terrible. But now I'm disarmed. I am no longer afraid of anything, because 'love drives out fear'. I am disarmed of the will to overcome, to justify myself at the expense of others. I am no longer on the alert, jealously grasping my riches. I welcome and I share. I am not attached to my opinions, to my plans. If other better proposals come to me, I accept them willingly. Or rather, not better, but good. You know, I have given up comparisons…That which is good, true, real, whatever it is, it is the best for me. Therefore, I am no longer afraid…But if we disarm ourselves, if we divest ourselves, if we open ourselves to the God-man, who makes all things new, then it is he who cancels our evil past and gives back to us a new time, where everything is possible”. This new time has dawned as we strive to overcome our differences, heal the wounds of centuries of division and unite once more for our common mission to the world. As I watch the moving and harmonious liturgical celebrations of Evening Prayer or Evensong by Anglicans and Roman Catholics whenever we have Anglican-Roman Catholic gatherings in different parts of the country and ponder over the theological implications of the exchange of peace at such ceremonies, tears often come to my eyes. I say to myself that this is how it ought to be; past animosities and misunderstandings over and a new communion and friendship between us begun for the sake of the Gospel. May God deepen this new communion and friendship among Catholics and non-Catholics and bless it with rich and abiding fruits. Thank you for your attention.
Self Reliance for The Family of God in Nnewi Diocese.
A paper presented by Dr. Chris Ogbechie LBS at the first Diocesan Synod of Nnewi from 3rd 10th April 2005.
Self Reliance For The Family of God…. of Nnewi Diocese. Chris Ogbechi Lagos Business School. A self reliant Diocese is one which is able to generate sufficient income to meet operating expenses. The starting point for self reliance · · · · Planning for the future-Strategic Planning The Diocese's Vision, Mission and Core Values What kind of Diocese do we want? A healthy Diocese can only exist if the Parishes are also healthy.
A Strategic Planning Process Components · Parish and community identification · Vision Statement · Mission Statement · Values · Objectives/Goals · Situation Analysis · Strategic Framework · Strategies · Programes / Activities · Operational Plan The biggest challenge for Parishes is to touch the hearts of parishioners different categories, different needs and expectations What is the value proposition of your Parish? Main Role of the Parish · “Deepening and widening the work of Evangelisation” -This entails touching the spiritual, social, economic, and political lives of people. -This requires effective organization and planning in the Parish
There are ten Operational Ministries in the Parish that could be used to touch the lives of Parishioners. A Strategic Parish will… · · Define its ministry purpose and reason for being in that location Analyze the environment in which it operates and realistically assess its strengths and weaknesses, making assumptions about unpredictable future events; Write specific and measurable objectives; Develop strategies on how to exercise good stewardship over available resources to reach objectives; Develop operational plans to meet objectives; Establish methods to evaluate progress. 176
The Diocese Strategic Planning Process · Put in place a process that will bring in January of each year to be coordinated by a Diocesan Planning Committee. · Develop a five-year strategic plan for the Diocese. · Get each parish to develop its own five-year strategic plan. · This committee should assist parishes review their plans and help them build financial reliance. 175
· · · ·
Financial self reliance entails… · Having in place regular sources of income - Usual ways of generating income in a typical parish - Income from investments - Income from rentals · Ability to generate or raise the funds required for specific projects/programmes. Financial self reliance entails… · · Having competent people running various activities: School management Hospital management Project management Embarking on projects that touch people's lives and at the same time generate income.
At the Diocesan level · Set up a holding company fully owned by the Diocese that can be invested in various business ventures that will touch the lives of the lay faithful. · If need be, set up joint ventures with the right lay faithful to exploit Opportunities Invest in developing the right human capacity amongst the religious to manage various projects. At the Parish level it is important to … · · · Get more parishioners involved in the management of parishes and parish finance. Build a database of all parishioners including those not resident in the Parish. Increase revenue through a variety of focused initiative.
At the parish level it is important to… Financial self reliance entails… · · Running hospitals to be the best in terms of service and generate profit with out exploiting the public. Generate revenue from other hospital/clinics through: Good laboratories Good radiography Specialist doctors · Form a Development committee to encourage and coordinate fundraising · Manage expenses and fundraising through improved visibility and oversight · Drive parish operations with an annual pastoral planning process. Transparency and Accountability will encourage people to do more for the parish. The Parish Strategy Retreat is an important Tool for successful running of the Parish We have to do it with prayer and reflection, with honesty and integrity. How to Run It · Who should attend? · Members of the parish pastoral council, parish laity council, parish finances council. · How long should it last? · A weekend: Friday Evening to Sunday afternoon (end with mass) · Where should it be held? · Outside the parish, preferably a retreat center · What should be discussed? · The Future of the parish 178
Financial self reliance entails… · Running schools to be the best in terms of moral values discipline and academic standards and hence attract sponsorships and scholarships. · Encourage well-to-do people to - Set endowments that can be used for projects. - Build and dedicate projects. Financial self reliance entails… · Making parishioners to be self reliant through - Micro-finance facilities for small businesses, petty traders, artisans, etc. - Vocational centers for learning useful trades - Business retreats and seminars for capacity building These will help parishioners to survive and do more for the Church
And remember that it is up to Him! · · · · · Ministry of Worship Ministry of Evangelization Ministry of Social Action Ministry of Parish & Family Life Ministry of Religious Education
Ministry of Parish & Family Life · Marriage Preparation · Marriage Counseling · Marriage Encounter · Ministry to the Sick · Home Visits · Holiday Study Programs · Education Scholarships · Business Retreats, Micro-credit Ministry of Youth · Youth Associations/Societies · Youth Week · Youth Camp · Youth Retreats/Talks/Seminars Ministry of Wellness · Parish Clinic · Associations of Doctors/Nurses · Parish Medical Care/Fund Ministry of Prayer · Eucharistic Adoration · Rosary crusades · Charismatic Movements · Sacred Heart Adoration · Divine Mercy Adoration Ministry of Communication · Parish Weekly Newsletter · Special Event Brochures/Magazines · Weekly Announcements · Bulleting Boards
· · · · ·
Ministry of Youth Ministry of Wellness Ministry of Prayer Ministry of Communication Ministry of Administration
Ministry of Worship · Liturgy/Liturgical Commission · Sacristan/ Altar servers · Liturgical Environment · Ushers/Collection Takers · Choir/Music Commission · Lectors/Readers. Ministry of Evangelization · Catholic Bible Studies · Retreats · Basic Christian Communities · Talks/Seminars/Workshops Ministry of Social Actions · St. Vincent de Paul · JDPC · Charity Organizations & Societies · Special Jumbo Sales 179
Ministry of Administration · Parish Pastoral Council · Parish Finance Committee · Building Committee · Fund Raising Committee · Collection Counters · Parish Maintenance · Parish Office
Implementation Issues The Various Roles of the Parish Priest The parish priest
Spiriual Lead Medical Project Manager
Contemporary Challenges of Christian Marriage for our People Presented By Rev. Fr. Titus IK. Nnabugwu at the First Nnewi Diocesan Synod, April 3-10, 2005.
1. INTRODUCTION I was asked to speak on the contemporary challenges of Christian marriage among our people, the Igbos and particularly our people in the Diocese of Nnewi. In other words, to discuss some of the problem areas in marriage where our people are today still having some difficulties in spite of the fact that they are Christians. Simply put, to look at the present day threats to Christian marriage. In order to keep to the time allotted to this topic, I shall just briefly examine the Igbo understanding of marriage in general, the concept of Christian marriage, and then outline the contemporary challenges facing this Christian marriage for our people. After that, we shall attempt a critical appraisal and response to these challenges in view of the call for inculturation being made by our people. 2. THE IGBO UNDERSTANDING OF MARRIAGE The Igbos, like many in African societies, believe that God commanded or asked people to get married and bear children from the very beginning of human life. Hence marriage is seen as a social affair and sacred duty, which every normal person is bound to perform. Anyone who fails to marry is seen as trying to stop the flow of life; he is seen, as committing a major offence in the eyes of the
Community leader Human Resources Manager Finance Manager
Educationist Family Leader
society and people will be against him. He is given such names as oboloko. This was why in the traditional Igbo society, everything possible was done to prepare people for marriage and to make them think in terms of marriage. This was also why the first Igbo boys who entered the seminaries to become catholic priests did not get the fiat of their parents but rather were considered as “lost”. Basden puts it this way: “The idea of a celibate life finds no favor whatsoever: to the Ibo it is rank foolishness, as well as being utterly contrary to the laws of nature” In Igbo traditional system, marriage is not simply an affair between two people, a man and woman who decide to be husband and wife, but rather a marriage between two families or even two clans, which continues even after the death of the husband. The concept of marriage for the Igbos is very closely tied to children and fecundity. The desire for a child is often absolute. This is evident in the description of Ndulue, that marriage for the Igbo man is nothing but business, the business of begetting children: “Marriage in Igbo culture is business. But it is not business in the economic sense nor is it business of flirting and lovemaking. It is business for 'looking for fruit of womb', which are children. Secondly, it is business of bringing two Kindreds (Ikwu na ibe) or fami1ies closer together. For the Igbos, to be without children is to miss 'immorality' of some sort. Basden wraps it up by saying that among the Igbo people, “A childless woman is regarded as a sort of monstrosity; indeed, it is not unknown that, when such a woman dies, in order to express contempt in which she is held, her abdomen is slit across prior to her burial. She has failed to fulfill her function in life, and this mutilation of the corpse is the token for her failure; her name is blotted out for ever.” It becomes then evident that the supreme purpose of marriage among our people is to bear children, to build a family, to extend life and to hand down the living torch of human existence. In order to ensure that nobody is left out of marriage and that children are born for each family, there were such practices or customs as a man marrying several wives, a man inheriting the wife of a deceased brother, arranging for a dead son to be married in absence, or the wives of impotent or long-absent husband to have children by close relatives or friends, a woman marrying another woman, and a girl being left in her father's house in order to get a male child for the family. It is some of these practices, which we shall come to later, that are still posing a problem or challenge to Christian marriage for our people today. But before we go into this, let us briefly look at what constitutes a Christian marriage. 183
3. CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES Vatican II Council described marriage as an intimate partnership of life and love, established by God himself and endowed with its own proper laws, and which is rooted in the covenant and in the irrevocable consent of its partners. Hence, to understand the nature of marriage, one has to go back to its institution by God, since “God, not man, not society, not any culture or tradition and certainly not any government, created marriage and the family” The Church thus teaches that marriage in the first place is a natural institution, ordained by God himself. When God created man and woman in his own image and likeness and asked them to increase and multiply, as we read in Genesis, he made marriage a means of perfecting the spouses and a means of propagating the human race. By true conjugal/sexual self-donation, the spouses tend to become parents and share in the enriching experience of se1f-perpetuation. By their dedication to their children, they continue to grow individually, as persons and in mutual esteem. It is important to note that at this natural level, marriage has already acquired the essential properties of unity and indissolubility. These properties flow from the very nature of marriage as intended by God. A man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, so that both shall become one flesh, with the effect that what God had joined together, no one should put asunder. It is this natural bond of marriage that Christ raised to the level of a sacrament for the baptized Christians. Hence the Church teaches that the marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and up-bringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised, to the dignity of a sacrament. This partnership consists in the gift of the partners themselves, which means the acceptance of each other with all their strengths and weaknesses, their qualities and their faults, through all life stages and situations. It entails a sharing of one destiny, a coming together under one yoke for a common activity and a common aim. It is a relationship, which recognizes the spiritual equality of the spouses and their capacity to enter into an agreement, which demands the gift of the whole person, one to another. This, partnership cannot be called a valid marriage contract between two baptized persons. Hence, a sacramental marriage is the union of two Christians who in virtue of their baptism invite God to enter into their covenant of love. It is this sacramental marriage that is aptly referred to as a Christian Marriage. 184
4. THE PROPERTIES OF A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE Every Christian marriage has two distinguishing properties or characteristics namely, unity and indissolubility. The property of unity refers to the fact that marriage is a monogamous relationship, that is, between one man and one woman. Accordingly, all forms of polygamy are excluded, whether it is polygyny, where one man has several wives or polyandry where one woman has several men or 'group marriages' where several men 'marry' several women'. All such practices are contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in marriage give themselves with a love that is total and therefore exclusive. The total gift of self cannot be divided. It must be given and continuously expressed to one person. The Church has always taught that Christ excluded polygamy as evident from the gospel of Matthew l9: 16: “Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: this is why a man must leave his father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two therefore but one body”. The Church clearly defined this teaching of Christ at the Council of Trent at its 24th session: “If anyone says that Christians may have more than one wife at once and that it is forbidden by no divine law: let him be anathema”. Total jurisprudence in treating marriage cases identifies and equates this unity with the good of fidelity (bonum fidei), which in its strict sense means that a person has the right to be the one and only spouse of the partner, and that the partner has no right to polygamy. Hence, marital fidelity, in its strict juridical sense, refers to sexual fidelity, which implies having the spouse as one's only sex partner. It means, therefore, that the partner lacks not only the right to have another spouse but also equally the right to have another lover. The partner lacks the right not only to be a polygamist but also the right to be an adulterer. Suffice it to say here that the unity of marriage should not be understood only in the negative sense of excluding po1ygamy. It has also a positive dynamic meaning, in the sense that by the virtue of property, of unity, the spouses are called to grow continually in their communion of life and love through day-today fidelity to their marriage promise of total self-giving. The property of indissolubility refers to the fact that after a valid marriage, the bond which comes into existence between the parties can no longer be dissolved, neither by the parties themselves nor by any other external power, until the death of either of the parties to the marriage. This is generally referred to as intrinsic and extrinsic indissolubility. There is also what we call absolute indissolubility. For 185
baptized Christians, the indissolubility of the marriage becomes absolute when sexual intercourse, performed in a human way (humano modo) takes place after a validly celebrated marriage. Such marriages are referred to as ratified and consummated marriages, and no human power or agency can dissolve them. 5. CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES TO CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE There is no gainsaying the fact that one of the most intriguing problems that Christian marriage has to deal with in Igboland is harmonizing it with the Igbo traditional system of Marriage. This makes the reality and the presence of challenges to Christian marriage for our people obvious today in various ways. The Lineamenta clearly stated, “in our contemporary society, certain issues in aspects of the family life have come to the fore in any consideration of the family. These include in a special way the rights of women, the youth scene and the current ravages of Aids pandemic, which inflict unprecedented havoc in the family”. It equally pointed out some practices that militate against the dignity of womanhood among our people, practices that physically, emotionally and psychologically abuse women, but at the same time are permitted by our Igbo culture. Some of these cultural or traditional practices that clearly and directly still throw a challenge to Christian marriage today include: the Widowhood practices, Levirate marriage (Nkuchi Nwanyi), Symbolic transformation of a girl into a man (Nhachi Nwanyi), Woman to woman marriage and polygamous marriage. (a) Widowhood practices: In spite of our more than a hundred years of Christianity in Igboland, the widowhood practices, which are inhuman and against the dignity of women are still with us. Many a time, a widow is subjected to the ordeal of stigmatization and other inhuman treatments in the name of culture. “In some communities, she is made to sit on cold floor, drink the water used in bathing the corpse of her deceased husband, dispossessed of her properties, forced to wail loudly at certain hours of the day, stay without a bathe etc”. ' This appears alien to the tenet of Christian love and charity, as well as, the Christian concept of the family, called to experience a new communion that confirms and perfects natural and human communion. The Catholic widow is still being subjected to this rough treatment of the customary law, because the Church in Igboland has never officially addressed this problem. (B) Levirate Marriage (Nkuchi nwanyi) A Christian mother, at the death of her husband, at times, faces the cultural 186
pressure of becoming a wife to her dead husband's brother. Some people refer to this practice as inheriting the wife of a deceased brother. This new relationship becomes effective without the need for a fresh bride-price or formal marriage. This is usually under the pretext of giving her protection and assistance from the family. The Christian mother, faced with such situation, is consequently being forced into adultery by her own culture. The Christian marriage with her husband, which came to an end with his death, was then meant to continue under a new guise and unchristian practice. (c) Symbolic transformation of a girl into a 'man' (Nhachi Nwanyi): In lgbo culture, a male child is considered essential for the preservation of the family lineage. Where a marriage is blessed with only baby girls, the lgbo culture has a device contrived to fill such a gap in an effort to ensure that the compound does not turn into a bush when all the girls are married and after the death of their parents. In order to make up for this lack of a male child, one of the daughters would be symbolically transformed into a 'male child' while her father is still alive. After the rituals of transformation, she would automatically be regarded as a man. 'He' then bears children for the family and would be entitled to all the rights, privileges and obligations bestowed on man at birth by the custom of his people. This practice, which is not yet obsolete among our people today, is definitely a problem area vis-à-vis Christian marriage, for it encourages sexual promiscuity and debases womanhood. (d) Marriage between two Women (Nwanyi ilu Nwanyi): The practice of a woman marrying a fellow woman is another method, whereby Igbo culture strives to preserve the continuity of the family lineage by seeking to have at least a male child. Where a married woman who is above child bearing age and who is not blessed with a male child loses her husband by death, such a woman could marry a young girl of child bearing age into the family in the name of her late husband. The children from such a marriage are traditionally considered as bona fide members of the family. Such a marriage in the light of the gospel is seen as an aberration, for it not only encourages sexual promiscuity, it also lowers the dignity of women. (e) Polygamous marriage: Polygamy is a system of marriage among our people, which permits a man to have several wives. After more than a hundred years of Christianity in Igboland, this system of marriage still deeply embedded in the mentality of our people, 187
continues to pose a challenge to Christian marriage. Many of our Christians who married one wife and wedded in the Church have fallen victim to Polygamy. As a result, among our people today, we have some Christian husbands living with more than one wife, necessitated at times by the breakdown of the first marriage, or by a search of a child or more children, especially males. This state of affair or situation has continued to pose a pastoral problem. Many a time, it has given rise to “instances of lawfully wedded Christians, who having once or more times succumbed to the lure of polygamy wish to return to communion with the Church”. Apart from these challenges from our Igbo culture and tradition, which are still posing problems today, there are also other factors challenging Christian marriage for our people. These include the increasing breakdown in marriages leading to separation and divorce. We have also the issue of HIV and AIDS as well as the non- harmonization of traditional marriage and Christian marriage. (f) Marital breakdown, Separation and Divorce: For our people in Igboland, even though marriage is a stable union, which the members of the two families have a high stake in its continuation, they are prepared to accept marital breakdown as a human reality, when all effort at its Prevention fails. The fact is that marital breakdown is on the increase today and so poses a threat to Christian marriages. Despite an apparent upsurge in the number of young Christians who are getting married these days, there is at the same time a frightening reality of the high percentage of marriages that are breaking up everyday. It has been observed that over the past years in Nigeria, the society has witnessed an alarming rate of separation, divorce, marital disaffection and loss of affection between couples. Some of the causes of marital breakdown, separation and divorce and which consequently pose a challenge to Christian marriage include: i) Inadequate preparation for Marriage: Many young people today dabble into marriage without any adequate preparation. There is need for two people who are about to enter into marriage to be prepared for it. This preparation can come in various buns. They are supposed to know what marriage is all about, what is expected of them in terms of the duties and obligations, and how they are to relate with each other meaningfully after marriage. In my interaction at the Tribunal with many young girls whose marriages had broken down, I discovered that at the very time they entered into the marriage, they knew next to nothing of what marriage actually entailed. 188
Hence, when asked of what they understood about marriage at the time they entered into it, the answer usually given was, “Nothing”. Unfortunately, many of' those who want to enter into marriage today are not patient enough to undergo a formal marriage course or instruction. They have no time and would even want the marriage done within the shortest possible time. It is sad that a young man would spend 5 to 7 years in apprenticeship to learn a trade or to graduate in the university but would not deem it necessary to be informed about Christian marriage, which is a lifelong commitment. This is why the story of many second marriages is the story of people who learned the hard way of the perils of rushing into a first marriage without preparation. (ii) Absence of Courtship: Many people enter into Christian marriage today without any courtship and without the basic knowledge of the other party. The period of acquaintance should of necessity be followed by a sufficient time devoted to knowing something about the other. This is necessary if they are to choose each other with the sufficient insight, which such a vital decision as marriage deserves. Members of Mary League and Charismatic movement, who make strict and rigid rules forbidding courtship in all its ramifications for their members intending to marry, contribute in no small measure to the breakdown of many marriages. The practice among our people where some parents simply order their children to marry a particular person for their selfish interest leaves a lot to be desired. This does not give room for any meaningful courtship and the necessary freedom for marriage. The practice of paying or accepting the dowry within a few weeks that a couple came to know each other, or that a couple were introduced to each other, puts the intending couple in a cultural situation of viewing themselves already as man and wife, thus closing the door to a meaningful courtship and engagement. (iii) Incompatibility of Character: Many a time, the answer that I get when I ask people, “what caused the breakdown of your marriage”, is this: “we are incompatible”. By that he or she means that they cannot agree on anything, that they are opposed to each other. It means then that no effort was made at the initial stage to find out whether they were compatible or not. It is, therefore, very important that before two people give their final yes to each other in marriage, that they do their utmost best to study and assess each other's likes and dislike, so as to see whether they would be able to achieve a balance and harmony after marriage. 189
(iv). Entering Into Marriage With A Hidden Agenda Many people today enter into marriage with a hidden agenda. Some men, in order to get a particular girl to marry them, tell a lot of stories about their work, status, finance and health. Unfortunately, some girls do not go the extra mile to establish the veracity of such claims. Some girls, on the other hand, do also hide significant information about their earlier life or marriage. Hence some people select a marriage partner for all the wrong reasons and introduce their selfish agenda into the new Union, thereby destroying their interpersonal relationship and erasing all feeling of love. The consequence is marital breakdown. (v) Childlessness or Infertility: Childlessness is one of the major challenges to Christian marriage among our people, the Igbos. Because of the high premium attached to children, any marriage that has nothing to show for it in terms of children after two years is usually in tension. The family of the man usually blames the woman for the childlessness even when the man is responsible for it. She is often called all sorts of names including being “a man”. As a result of this problem of childlessness, it will be very important for two people entering into marriage to go for a fertility test. It has been observed that some men who knew before the marriage that they were impotent or that they were Azoospermic, and so were incapable of performing the sexual act or impregnating a woman, hid this fact from the other party. Some marry with the hope that the woman would agree to be getting her pregnancy from other men. On the side of women, it has been discovered that some hide the fact of their not ovulating or menstruating at all to the other party before the marriage. Such women tactfully claim to be pregnant shortly before the marriage to hasten the man into tying the nuptial knots without further delay. Whenever the man or the woman discovers this kind of foul play, it usually hits the rock. So, in spite of time belief, that it is God that gives children, a fertility test is still a human way of cooperating with God, in that area, and will go a long way to preventing the unhappiness that will come from a culpable neglect of it. (vi) Mixed Marriages: Many mixed marriages among our people do not work out properly and often do not end on a happy note. Many catholic men who married girls from other denominations discover to their dismay that religion plays an important role in the family and can be a major source of conflict and tension in Christian marriage. In Igbo land, the common belief is that the woman follows the man to his Church. This has far reaching consequences for any Catholic girl who marries 190
a man of another denomination or faith, hoping that the man will keep to his promises to her before the marriage. Experience has shown that immediately after the marriage, most of them begin to king in a different choir and this has caused the breakdown of many marriages. There are equally some parents who give out their catholic daughters to nonCatholics for marriage without caring for the canonical provision for mixed marriages. They do it with the intention of stopping the reception of sacraments only for a short while, following the directives of late Archbishop Ezeanya on irregular Marriages. There is need to define this problem once again in the light of the present day circumstances of our new diocese. (g) Harmonizing Igbo traditional marriage with Christian marriage: Our people are still left with no other choice than to celebrate the traditional marriage (Igba Nkwu) and the Christian marriage (Igba akwukwo) differently. The result is that a couple can be married traditionally for years before coming to be married in the Church. Till they wed in the Church, their marriage is considered 'irregular' and they are excluded from the sacramental life of the Church. This duplication of the celebration of marriage still poses a challenge to Christian marriage. Most Rev. Hilary O. Okeke has long observed that there is “need for a marriage rite that will take into consideration the vision of marriage and culturally rooted marriage rites of Africans in general and Nigerians in particular. The rite will as far as possible eliminate the dichotomy and duplication of marriage rites so that African/Nigerian Christians can celebrate their marriage in a meaningful culturally relevant ceremony, that is compatible with Christian doctrine and discipline”. This urgent need and concern is clearly expressed in the questions being asked by many today: “Is there no way by which these different marriages can be harmonized, so that there is only one marriage that takes care of the exigencies of tradition, the civil society, and the church?” “Is it not possible to arrange the celebration of the traditional marriage and the Christian marriage in such a way that both go together?” C.S. Mba concludes that there is no justification for forcing Catholic Christians to go through more than one rite or ceremony of matrimonial commitment when there is no need for such a multiplication. He proposed a specimen of the lgbo Christian rite of Marriage. 1. The preliminaries such as the inquiries, marriage negotiation, preliminary consent and so forth must be completed first. 2. Then the settlement of the bridal wealth must take its course. 3. Next follow the banns of marriage, etc. 191
4. Then come the civil notification of the impending marriage, the pre-marriage instruction, which must be seriously carried out for a good length of time. 5. The assembling of the parties at the home of the girl's parents on a fixed day with the eldest member of the family presiding and carrying out his function as both traditional elder and also as the Church representative if he is appointed to do so. 6. The priest in charge is present to support the occasion. As a representative of the church, he shall formally ask and receive the verbal consent of the parties but only after the elder has done his part to a finish. He then invites the priest who has come there with his catechist and the other official witnesses of the marriage to do his part. This part can be modified. 7. Then follow the payment of the bridal wealth if any and the formal handing over of the bride. 8. Then the dowry (not the bride price) is presented to the couple by the girl's father and the extended family members. This is called Idu-Uno and consists in the household equipment especially for the woman. 9. After this presentation, feasting and merry making will then follow. At this juncture, the ceremony of Igba Nkwu can feature or somewhere along the line. 10. As soon as possible (and if possible within the following few days) the couple and their supporters should go to the church for Mass and the nuptial blessing. This Mass is not an essential element of the marriage but an integral part. The detailed ceremonies, both traditional and liturgical at the home of the bride, can be worked out, incorporating bible readings, words of admonition and encouragement, goodwill gestures and prayers from both sides and from the priest. Writing an epilogue to this erudite work of Msgr. C.S Mba, Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Odili Okeke, then President of the Canon Law Society of Nigeria, said: “This proposed Igbo Christian Marriage Rite must not be allowed to suffer the fate of the one proposed by Inter-diocesan Liturgical Commission for Igbo Speaking Dioceses. The Bishops of the Igbo speaking dioceses should immediately mandate the study of this proposed Christian marriage Rite for Igbo Christians at the community, parish and diocesan levels. The Vatican will be too willing to approve this important and necessary initiative of the Catholic Church in Igbo land”. Fr Patrick Chibuko has gone a step further by producing a more detailed Igbo Christian Marriage Rite which can be celebrated either within Mass or without Mass. It does not seem to have received the blessing of the Bishops of Igbo speaking Dioceses. 192
(h) HIV and AIDS Scourge: The reality of HIV and AIDS among our people is equally posing threat to the stability of Christian marriages. It has become a phenomenon that the Church in Igbo land must continue to talk about, for it is now bringing death and misery to many families in our cities, towns and villages. Many children in families are being rendered orphans as a result of the tragic death of their parents caused by AIDS. The unfortunate thing about HIV and AIDS is that many people who die as a result of this disease in the villages are said to be poisoned by their enemies. 6. A CRITICAL APPRAISAL AND RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGES With regard to the first set of challenges to Christian marriage originating from our Igbo culture such as the Nkuchi Nwanyi and Nhachi Nwanyi, the natural question to be asked is whether such practices can be Christianized or inculturated. Inculturation has been described as the penetration of the gospel into a culture and the introduction of that culture into the life of the Church. Some theologians argue that from a theological viewpoint, no period in human history is removed from the grace of salvation in Jesus Christ and that every culture as a human reality can be illuminated, purified and enriched by the word of salvation proclaimed by Christ. But then, it is very important to bear in mind that to Christianize a culture is to liberate it, to lead it to its complete fulfillment, for the integral development of persons and peoples, through the respect of their rights and the fulfillment of their duties. This means that any culture, custom or tradition that is irreconcilable with the “two principles of compatibility with the Gospel and communion with the universal Church” cannot pass the litmus test of inculturation. With this as guide, it becomes evident that the traditional Igbo practices of Nkuchi Nwanyi, Nhachi Nwanyi and Nwanyi ilu Nwanyi, which flagrantly promote sexual promiscuity and debase women, cannot pass the litmus test of inculturation. It is only a marital relationship possessing the properties of unity and indissolubility, and which reflects and respects the dignity of womanhood and the fundamental equality of men and women that can be Christian. Those who have fallen victim to such practices among our people out of ignorance or societal pressure should be made to understand their unchristian condition in the light of the gospel and then make amends. The Church would in turn encourage childless Christian couples and others in similar difficult situations to adopt children. In the same vein, the Church in our area can also spearhead a crusade against the disinheritance of women, in line with the civil law legislation that has given women the right to acquire and inherit both movable and immovable property. 193
With regard to polygamous marriages, the current practice where the man is simply asked to separate from his other wives, if he wants to reconcile with the Church, does not appear a good solution to a good proportion of the Christian public. Many think that the present practice is a compromise that leaves room for scandal and watering down the standards of catholic morality. This is because, the children are his, the wives still answer his name and when he dies, these other wives are usually around to mourn his death. On the other hand, we must not forget that the women concerned have the right to be treated fairly. The man who married them when they were young cannot in conscience send them back to their parental homes. This is why those who are advocating for a traditional ceremony of divorce for the women, to show that they are no more the man's wives, may not be said to have the correct answer to the problem. With regard to the challenge posed to Christian marriage by the rise in marital breakdown, separation and divorce, more emphasis should be laid on the preparation for marriage. The vocation to fatherhood and motherhood, in order to be properly answered, requires a qualitative formation. Consequently, both the priests and the intending couples should take the three months allotted to marriage course seriously, for a successful marriage does not happen by chance. It has to be planned and followed up with learning, devotion, dedication and commitment, trusting in God, the author of marriage. On HIV and AIDS, there is need to have awareness programmes of education and prevention based on catholic doctrines and morals. It equally calls for emphasis on the sacredness of family life and the dangers posed by infidelity in marriage. The harmonization of Igbo traditional marriage with Christian marriage is a project that is still under consideration. There is no doubt that Our Bishop, Most Rev. Hilary Odili Okeke, stands now a better chance to do something tangible in this perspective. He has been in the forefront as a crusader advocating for this harmonization. Having been endowed with the Episcopal authority, he can now mandate a serious study on this project in the various parishes, and equally persuade the other Igbo Bishops to equally mandate such a study in their dioceses. Most Rev. A.O. Gbuji, Catholic Bishop of Enugu is said to have approved ad experimentum, the said Igbo Christian Rite of Marriage by Fr. Chibuko, and has himself celebrated it on December 28, 2001 at Amokwe in Udi L.G.A. in Enugu State. There is no doubt that when the Igbo Christian Rite of Marriage is eventually approved by all the Bishops of the Igbo Speaking Dioceses and ratified by Rome, it will go a long way in solving some of the problems and challenges of Christian marriage today among our people. It will among other advantages help to curtail 194
what some people improperly refer to as “a trial marriage”, which is a man living together with a woman modo uxorio after the payment of dowry and Igba Nkwu, either already begetting children or to see if they can have children, before venturing to marry or wed in the Church. This practice does untold injustice to the woman in particular, who is being treated as a childbearing machine, rather than as a human person, with inherent rights and privileges. 7. CONCLUSION Our synod is a grace event. It is meant to help us evangelize our people better. There is no doubt that the area of marriage and family life needs a lot of attention. Christian marriage is still challenged by a number of factors that need to be look into in order to make Christianity take a firm root among our people. This calls for the Church in Igboland to take, a firm stand on issues such as traditional widowhood rites and family inheritance, for these are issues which frustrate the widow and expose her life and those of her children to many dangers. There is need also to put more emphasis on proper preparation for marriage and providing adequate support for married couples undergoing serious difficulties such as childlessness. There is equally an urgent need to mount a sound pastoral strategy or programmes to enable couples receive adequate appropriate counseling. This will include those who have fallen victim to the clutches of polygamy and what we call 'irregular marriages', keeping in mind that salvation of souls must always be the supreme law in the Church.
General Theme: Living The Faith in The Family of God on Mission in the Catholic Diocese Of Nnewi: “that Christ May Live in your hearts through Faith” (Eph.3:17)
TOPIC: Revitalising family life and values in the Mission of the Family of God
Paper Presenter: Sir David E. Osunde, Kss;jp Venue: St. Michael's Parish Hall, Eziora-Ozubulu Date: 6/04/2005. Time: 9: 30 A.m.
Your Lordship, Monsignori, Rev. Frs. and Rev. Sisters, the lay faithful, Representatives of the Mass Media organizations, my dear people of God; I wish to formally congratulate your Lordship, the Priests and the Religious as well as the lay faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi for the bold effort taken to summon this synod. No one needs to be told that a lot of energy, talents, time and money went into the preparation to be able to bring all of us together for this “journeying together” for the purpose of enriching our faith. There is no doubt that some of us may have knowingly or unknowingly wandered away for so long and therefore need a forum like this to help us make up our minds to return to the Father. This is why the Vicar-General of your Diocese, very Rev. Fr. Anichebe Patrick Ezeobata and his Synod Preparatory Committee need to be commended for the excellent work they did to provide sufficient spiritual food for thought in the
“Lineameta” and the “Instrumentum Laboris” they prepared well ahead of time, for both the resource persons and the delegates to the synod. These “tools” have helped in no small measure to direct our minds to the general theme of the synod: Living the Faith in the Family of God on a Mission: “that Christ may live in your Hearts through Faith” (Eph. 3:17) The topic that was fortuitously assigned to me to discus at this all-important synod is: “Revitalising Family Life and Values in the Mission of the Family of God.” I consider it fortuitous because it is a topic that I am somehow familiar with, having founded the Holy Family Society, and have spent the last four years writing about family life. In a bid to re-emphasise the importance of “the Family” in the mission of the Church, the Synod Preparatory Committee, which possibly chose the subjects to be discussed, ensured that the word “family” appears twice in the coinage of the topic given to me. That to my mind meant that I needed to double my efforts at research work in a bid to examine family issues from the Christian perspective, with a view to proposing at this synod the ways and means by which the Church and the Christian family could help to restore and re-vitalize family life and values in a manner that Christ may live in the hearts of all and sundry through faith, especially in the hearts of the Christian men and women, youths and children who together make up families. You will recall that before his death last nd Saturday, the 2 of April, 2005, Pope John Paul II spent his over 26 years of Papacy re-directing our minds to the family, imploring everyone in the family to uphold the family values as enunciated and practiced by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Nazareth. Only recently, the Pope approved the release of the “Dignitas Connubii,” meant to protect the dignity of marriage. “Dignitas Connubii” is the instruction on the norms to be observed at ecclesiastical tribunal in matrimonial proceedings involving couples who are seeking the annulment or dissolution of their marriages. The instruction which was presented on Tuesday, 8th of February, 2005, to journalists at the Vatican, was compiled by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts “with the collaboration of other most closely concerned Dicasteries of the Holy see.” We shall return later to this instruction which, understandingly, is meant to enhance the work of the marriage tribunal as it provides it with reliable and authentic explanation of the procedure it should follow in handling matters brought before it, especially matters involving annulment or dissolution of marriage. 197
In the meantime, let us find out why this Synod has specifically chosen “family life” as an important subject which must be laid bare for discussion with the purpose of revitalizing it and enhancing its values to fulfil the mission of the Church in Nnewi in particular and in the world at large. His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke, the Bishop of Nnewi, gave an insight into why “marriage” and “family” are critical areas of reflection in this synod. He said in his “forward” to the “Instrumentum Laboris” that “we highlighted marriage and the family as a critical area of reflection on the convinction born of experience that besides the lure of ideology, the problems of marriage and the family are major obstacles to the living of the faith of our people.” Since the major obstacles in living the faith of the people of Nnewi Diocese, albeit Africans, have been identified, it beloves me as well as everyone present here to look critically at what Christians in Nnewi and indeed Africa need to do to tackle the problems which bedevil marriage and family life to the extent of preventing a good number of those involved from living their faith. This is what I see as the major assignment before all of us today. Before taking this issue to town, we need to identify those in Nnewi Diocese who are expected to live the faith in the family of God (the Church) so that Christ may live in their hearts through faith? It may not be out of place to infer here that those whom the Diocese of Nnewi is desirous to see living the faith in the family of God, are the Christ's faithful who are required to make necessary sacrifices to “endear the Church to the people” as they themselves live their lives among their family members, community members as well as their friends and associates. This means that the Diocese of Nnewi is using this synod to draw the attention of over 450,000 Catholics out of the 700,000 people in the diocese to the need to fruitfully live their faith as well as make concrete moves to bring new converts into their fold. The question we need to resolve here is when we talk about over 450,000 Catholics in Nnewi, can we say that they are all “Christ's faithful”? Canon 204 sub-section 1, defines “Christ's faithful” as follows: “Christ's faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Christ through baptism, are constituted the people of God. For this reason, they participate in their own way in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. They are called, each according to his or her particular condition, to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to fulfil in the world.” It should be seen as a big plus for Nnewi Diocese if the total number of Catholics in the area can be truly described as “Christ's faithful.” 198
What is clearly obvious, however, is that among the Christ's faithful in Nnewi Diocese, there is one Bishop appointed to look after the flock by the Holy Father who has just passed on. There are also a number of Rev. Fathers, Rev. Brothers and Rev. Sisters who jointly help the Bishop to look after the flock in the nineteen parishes. No one needs to be informed that the lay faithful are certainly in the majority in these parishes. All the people who are so categorised here, come from families, and they all have their different functions in the home, in the Church and in the society at large. It is how each person in the different categories carry out his or her functions without losing or compromising his or her faith that should be of great interest to us in this synod. But the topic which is before us now restricts my searchlight to the areas that will only help us to unravel the ways and means of “revitalizing family life and values in the mission of the family of God.” This explains why I am limiting my presentation to “marriage” and “family” issues. The emphasis on the “family” as indicated by the topic assigned to me is quite right as the Diocese of Nnewi is only following “the path mapped out for the Church in Africa by the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops (1994) whose fruit was promulgated by our Holy Father in the post synodal Exhortation, “Ecclesia in Africa.” Since this exhortation, the whole Church has returned, as it were, to the family to find solutions to our teething perennial problems, especially problems which bedevil marriage and family life. That we are now going back to our roots to find solutions to our complex problems of poverty, child abuse, prostitution, abortion, armed robbery, assassinations, ritual killings, military coups, embezzlement of public funds, human trafficking, etc, is a great credit to Pope John Paul II who th will be laid to rest on Friday, the 8 of April, 2005. The people of Africa and the world at large will ever remain grateful to him for the direction he has given to us. Everyone was being constantly reminded that instead of pursuing “the beatitudes of the world, the beatitudes that the media capitalizes on, the beatitudes of power-politics, the beatitudes of merely earthly success,” the most rewarding thing is for all families to return to the roots to begin a new search for a “new set of values - being poor in spirit, meek, hungry for righteousness, pure of heart, etc.” as pointed out by Rev. Fr. Alex Yeung, LC, in th his article on “New Standards” published on the 30 of January, 2005 in “Regnum Christi,” a weekly internet Newsletter. 199
To aid our return to the family, Pope John Paul II instituted the World Meeting of Families, which takes place every three years. The last one which the Pontifical Council for the Family organised on behalf of the Vatican was held in Manila, Philippines, with the theme, “Christian Family: the Good News for the Third Millenium.” The World Meeting of families is principally aimed at helping families to discover the set of values which the Holy Family of Nazareth relied on and from which their noble virtues beamed to the world. These values were the special gifts which our Lord Jesus himself possessed and which he put into practice during his sojourn here on earth. These set of values made Jesus to remain loyal and obedient to his foster parents, Joseph and Mary. And when he began his public ministry, he openly taught this same set of values to his disciples. He presented his message as follows: “Fortunate are those who have the spirit of the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle, they shall possess the land. Fortunate are those who hunger and taste for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with a pure heart, for they shall see God…” (see Mt. 5:3-12) The Founder of the Legionary of Christ, Rev. Fr. Maciel Marcial once wrote that “ due to the widespread confusion on moral values in which we live, it is now more pressing than ever that we illuminate our conscience with the standards of the Gospel, of the Church's Magisterium, and of the advice of prudent persons, so that we will be able to form correct moral judgments.” (see “Letter on Human and Christian Values, May 23-25, 1997). It is to help each and every one of us to form “correct moral judgments” that this synod is taking us through this journey of faith. It is our prayer that the ideas being propounded, exchanged, shared, and possibly imbibed during this synod by each and everyone of us will go a long way, not only to help us form “correct moral judgments”, but will also help to propel us to put them into practice. One good thing that should “illuminate our conscience” as we make conscious efforts during this synod and beyond is to lay emphasis on the “standards of the Gospel” with a view to learning everyday the set of values enshrined in the Holy Bible, especially the values that have to do with generosity, hospital and prison visitation, happy reception of strangers into one's home, clothing the naked, etc. 200
This becomes clearer for us if we read Mt. 25:31-46. It will certainly help us to keep constantly in our minds what will happen to us on the Day of Judgment. Now that we are still breathing and living as Christ's faithful, the opportunities are there for us to decide where we want to be at our demise - heaven or hell-fire. One thing that is clear to all and sundry is that there is a great assurance for the Christian family to make it to heaven if it remained focused on the set of values captured in Mt. 25:35-40. It must also follow this up by making conscious efforts to put them into practice. All in the family including father, mother and children should understand the value, which Jesus placed on certain acts of kindness such as “I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me…” Any Christian family in Nnewi or in any part of the world which consciously opens its doors to attend to its neighbours in a manner described above will be said to be “living the faith in the family of God on a Mission.” Such Christian family will invariably be seen to have imbibed Christ's teaching which is anchored on love of God above all things and love of one's neighbour. Any Christian family which obeys God's commandments which Christ himself summarised for us, and daily commune with the “Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth has received its name” (see Eph. 3: 14-15), will undoubtedly make it to heaven. The issue before us now is how can we ensure that every member of the Christian family falls in line to obey God's commandment so that no one in the family is left behind while others make it to heaven? This is the principal responsibility of both the parents and the Church. The responsibility lies more on the parents who must ensure that their families are built on solid foundation right from the start of their marital life. A Christian couple which intends to build its family on a solid foundation must ensure that the basis for the union is “love”, genuine love for each other. This means true love of the spouse who is created by God in His image and likeness. It shouldn't be love of one's partner because of opportunities to have sex, or love of one's partner because of wealth, beauty or the academic qualifications which he or she possesses. 201
“Genuine love” should be the motivating factor which propels a man and a woman to give themselves to each other until death do them part. Once, a man and a woman have established that they have genuine love for each other, the next thing to do is to make themselves available to go through marriage course being organised by the Catholic Parish or Mass Centre, in their area. This is where the Church comes in to play a significant role to prepare a couple for a rewarding Christian family life. The content of the marriage course must be structured in a manner to make the couple understand what it takes to keep a stable family life which is devoted to God and which is expected to raise up children in the fear of the Lord. A good grasp of the fundamentals of Catholic marriage at the marriage course will undoubtedly help the couple to prepare themselves for this life-time journey. It must be stressed here that inadequate preparation for marital life has often been responsible for the myriad of problems faced by couples in marriage. To reduce this to its barest minimum, we need to urgently review the content of our marriage courses and employ the services of experts who are quite vast in the scripture to handle them. This can be said to be one good area of kick-starting the current effort to revatalize family life and values in the Mission of the Family of God. Another area of interest is to look at the engagement ceremonies which couples freely organise to sort of “hook” themselves in preparation for Christian marriage. Many couples have been found to have hurriedly organised this without any spiritual backing and without seriously thinking about the sanctity of marital life. Many engagement ceremonies are known to have taken place at beer parlours or while couples intending to get married are cohabiting. This is entirely wrong as it gives a shaky start to a marital journey. Any foundation that excludes the presence of God or that is meant to give the impression that it can be laid without inviting God into it, will not stand the test of time. This is why couples intending to get married must use their engagement ceremonies as spiritual foundation for their proper Church wedding. For this purpose, the Holy Family Society, which I founded, has taken the initiative to design how a spiritual engagement of a couple intending to get married should be conducted. My proposed text and order of the engagement ceremony is currently going through the process of having an “imprimatur” before the work is published. 202
Meanwhile, some priests who have seen the work are quite happy about bringing a good level of spirituality into engagement ceremonies. Now the traditional wedding. This also needs to be looked into to see what can be brought out of our traditional practices to enhance the marriage of Christians. Just as Rev. Fr. George Ehusani of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria has looked into the traditional marriage ceremony in Igbira land, so also have I taken keen interest in the study of traditional marriage according to the Benin customs. From my study, I can say, without mincing words that it offers a good ground for inculturation. There are quite a number of practices, which could be given new meaning and interpretation to enrich the Gospel message. For instance let us look at the Christian teaching of inseparability in marriage. I have given new meaning to the offering and acceptance of dowry by families of both the man and the woman who are marrying each other in a traditional wedding to mean an agreement by both families that their marriage will remain indissolvable. How did I come to this conclusion, you may want to ask? I found that families in Benin Kingdom who engage in the traditional marriage, first and foremost, get a confirmation as well as an assurance separately from their children intending to get married to know whether they are going into the marriage on their own volition. Once the answer is positive, they go further to separately ask the couple whether they (their parents) are permitted to accept and eat the kola nuts and other items that are presented at the ceremony because once they accept and consume them, they may not be able to vomit them again. It is only when the children permit them to go ahead that they consider themselves free to conduct the traditional marriage ceremony. Without going into details to report the procedures and negotiations that usually take place during the traditional wedding ceremony in Benin, suffice it to say here that what is perhaps important for us to note is that the traditional wedding is said to have been concluded after the groom's parents' offer of a dowry has been accepted by the bride's parents. This is marked joyfully with typical Benin music, dancing and refreshment. For this important milestone in the life of the couple that has wedded traditionally to have its proper value, I designed a method of bringing in the Gospel message for parents to be able to explain to their children why it is impossible for them to be separated after the traditional wedding. 203
Having known that it is the prayer of all Benin parents that once their daughters have been married traditionally, it is not their wish that such daughter be “returned to the sender” again, I then coined an explanation of the traditional marriage, which parents should freely give at traditional wedding ceremonies. It goes like this: The bride price (or dowry) paid during the ceremony is something that cannot be paid back. Therefore the traditional wedding ceremony leaves no room for divorce. For any of the partners in the traditional marriage to arrange for a divorce, he or she must assemble all the people present at the traditional wedding at the same venue for them to take their former seats or stand at their former positions in their former attire before he or she could announce his or her intention to seek divorce. The two families that were involved in the traditional marriage must thereafter agree to this request before the same money that was used for the payment of dowry is tendered by the family, which received it. It is only when the family that initially paid the dowry confirms that it is the same money which it used in paying the dowry that is returned that both families can then entertain the discussion of the dissolution of the traditional wedding. This type of explanation gives a clear message to the parties going into marriage that once the ceremony is concluded, none of them could easily back out again. And that is what inseparability of wedded couples means in the Catholic Church. We can then say that both the traditional wedding and the Church wedding have the same objective of not succumbing to the pressure to grant divorce. The Catholic Church Wedding. This is a sacramental wedding, which cannot be ignored by any Christian who has already conducted his or her traditional wedding. Every effort must be made by practicing Catholics to seal their marriages sacramentally. Apart from making the wedded Catholics to be communicants, it opens so many avenues to the practicing Catholic families to develop themselves spiritually, as the married couples in the Church have the privilege to join any of the pious societies and register themselves as members of the Catholic Women Organization, Catholic Men Organization, etc, They will then discover that the Church is rich in spirituality and that it has a lot to offer those who make themselves available. When married couples and their children make themselves available to learn in, and be used by the Church, they will discover that the evil one will run away from them, and that they are in a majority in the sight of their foes. They will also find 204
themselves consciously avoiding things that are evil. Though they may face trials, such trials will help to refine and purify them as they strive towards holiness. Now, let us take a look at factors that militate against marriage and family life. From what one sees happening in the society everyday, it is possible to enumerate hundreds of factors which seem to militate against marriage and family life. They include: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m) (n) (o) (p) (q) (r) (s) (t) (u) (v) (w) (x) Infidelity in marriage Insufficient house-keeping allowance, resulting constant quarrels. Separation of couples due to engagements at work, in near or far places from the family home. Little or no attention to children's education Violence in the home as a result of provocation. Lack of respect for spouse Stubbornness of children, wife, husband, etc. Stealing of things belonging to other members of the family Telling lies in order to escape blame or punishment Refusing to take part in menial jobs at home Lack of seriousness in pursuing educational or professional goals by children, wife or husband. Using anyone in the family as a cover to commit crime A father molesting his female children Raping one's wife, sister-in-law or any other member of the family. Lack of appreciation for dutiful wife, husband or children. Refusing to go to Church with husband, wife or children to worship God together as a family, even once in a while Lack of interest in the scripture. Irregularity of food at home, either for lack of food or inability to cook Inability to provide special gift for wife, husband or children to mark birthday celebration Inability to bring family members together for family prayers. Alcoholism, on the part of the husband, wife or children Smoking excessively by any of the parties at home Gossiping Lack of employment or doing jobs that impugn on the integrity of members of the family such as robbery, prostitution, abortion procuring, etc. 205
Unwelcoming attitude towards in-laws, friends and other visitors and Keeping bad company against the advice of the spouse or any member of the family. I deliberately used alphabets a, b, c to z to number the evils that militate against the Christian family so that we can end them at z. This is not to say that the evil acts in or outside the Christian home, which create tension, distress, unhappiness, lack of physical progress and spiritual growth at home end there. Not at all. As said earlier, the problems which besiege many homes that are not built on solid foundation are legion, and one can begin to number them again and again from a to z. Let us therefore look at another set of problems militating against marriage and family life. (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) The neglect of physically challenged children either by their father, mother or other members of the family. The use of talisman or witchcraft by a spouse or any member of the family to harm others, retard their progress or create unnecessary suspicion between family members. Unnecessary patronage of the new generation “Prosperity Gospel and miracle Churches” against the advice of the spouse or other members of the family. Hiding acquired landed and/or movable properties from spouse or children. Hiding valuable gifts received continuously from close or distant friends of the family. Writing secret letters with scathing remarks about wife, husband or children which eventually find their way to the hands of those they were not intended to reach Watching pornographic films, which may make any of the partners in marriage to wrongly believe that he or she is not receiving the best from spouse in sexual acts. Reading bad religious tracks which claim that “our God is not a poor God” and using such claim to dissuade people from undergoing suffering for the sake of others, while also encouraging marriage partners whose homes are besieged by numerous problems “to stand up and be counted on the side of prosperity,” thereby abandoning their marital homes. The disgraceful exposition of the family in public through the behaviour of spouse or any of the children regarding the manner of speaking, appearance or cheating in small things. 206
(j) (k) (l) (m) (n) (o)
The joining of secret cult by spouse or any of the children against the advice of other members of the family Forceful dragging of the spouse to Juju shrines to take oath of faithfulness and loyalty. The deliberate refusal of spouse and/or children to join any of the pious societies in the Church. The complete neglect of family devotions at home by parents or the refusal of a spouse and/or children to join family devotions. The non-payment of essential bills in the home, making the family members to be seen by the public as chronic debtors. The unnecessary purchase of fashionable items such as clothing materials and necklace on credit against the advice of father, mother or children. The refusal of spouse to attend to certain simple requests of father-inlaws, mother-in-laws, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, etc. The refusal to visit spouse in prison who may have been unjustly put in jail or may have earned his or her sentence as a result of crimes committed. The fraudulent withdrawer of little or substantial money by a spouse from bank account jointly owned by the partners in marriage without the consent of the other party. The non-inclusion of wife or some children in the Will prepared by husband which eventually came to the knowledge of those who were not expected to know about it. The secret rearing of children outside marriage, which eventually came to the knowledge of wife after certain incidences in the family. The exposition of a secret purchase of landed property or any other valuable item for a girl friend or concubine whiles the wife and children are walloping in hunger and debt. The exposition of a secret plan by husband, wife or any of the children with armed robbers to rob or to eliminate one in order to take over properties by force. The wilful termination of pregnancy by wife without the consent of husband or the insistence of husband that the wife's pregnancy be terminated because of his inability to cope with the expenses of the home The insistence of a husband or wife that a disabled child in the family be thrown to the street for anyone who may want to have it to take or that it be instantly executed to prevent the family from public ridicule. 207
The refusal of a father to pay the school fees of any physically challenged child in the family while he joyfully pays those of others. (z) The refusal of husband to eat the food prepared by his wife at home, except that of the cook he employed or that of the girlfriend/concubine outside the home. From what I have enumerated here, one can see that the problems, which besiege many homes, are multi-dimensional; and they are avoidable. The crucial question is: will the father, mother and children in the family adopt new set of values that will make them worthy Christians whom others in the community would like to emulate? Individual families have to give a thought to this question. To answer in the positive is to prepare ground for a domestic Church to thrive in one's home; a home where there will be peace, unity and progress; a home where the father, mother and children will joyfully troop to the Church every Sunday, or every day, to thank God for sparing their lives and for providing them with essential needs; a home where there is great affection for one another; a home where strangers are welcomed, etc. The Christian family who, on the other hand, allows itself to be used by the devil will multiply its own problems. Those who consciously choose evil avoid the light, and they find themselves bound by a chain of sins. The Christian family that is bound together by a chain of sins will invariably crumble. At a point, the husband or wife in the family will seek for divorcé, even if they do know that in Christian marriage, there is no divorce. Instead of re-tracing their steps to leave their sinful ways and give themselves completely to God through re-conciliation with one another and with God, they head towards marriage tribunal, hoping that they will impress upon the tribunal to grant their request. It is to ease the work of the tribunal in easily disposing such issues that the Pope recently approved the instruction, “Dignitas Connubii” which officially presents 61 articles, according to the Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Most Rev. Mons. Antoni Stankiewiiz. He disclosed “Dinitas Connubii” deals mainly with “the instruments or proofs in the search for marriage process.” He pointed out that “the moral certainty in question in this process should be understood to mean the judge's state of mind, his conviction and his firm adherence to the truth, made known and proven in the trial, concerning the existence of factors that already invalidated the marriage at the movement of its celebration.” 208
With this new set of instruction, the marriage tribunal in Nnewi Diocese will be well positioned to easily dispose any of the pending marriage cases in its tribunal which was not invalidated “at the moment of its celebration.” Be that as it may, what is most interesting to the Catholic Church is how Christian families could uphold their marriages, applying the set of values enshrined in the scripture. It is only when the Christian family appreciates these values and apply them in their day-to-day living that they can transform their individual lives and the lives of those around them with the hope of making the world a better place for us to live in. This is the task set out for Christian families who are in the forefront of “revitalizing family life and values in the mission of the family of God.” May the good Lord bless and enrich our individual families as we revitalize our own lives. Amen. Sir David E. Osunde, KSS;JP 5/04/2005.
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