This year’s Lenten Retreat of Owerri Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Men Organization, OACCMO, ended on Friday, April 4, 2014 at Pastoral Centre, Owerri.
The retreat which begun on April 2, was well attended by almost all the Presidents from various parishes in the Archdiocese.
The retreat was moderated by the renowned retreat preacher, Rev. Fr. Francis Okonkwo. The theme of his retreat was “Jesus Christ in the Eucharist”.
The Eucharist, he said, is the symbol of the Catholic faith and the mystery of the universal church.
According to him, Jesus Christ is the bridegroom married to the Church, the bride. “Because of the love he has for the world, he gave out his life freely so that we might be saved. Hence the Eucharist reminds us of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He died so that we might live. The Eucharist symbolizes the reunion of Christ and man, the celebration of Christ’s victory over death and reassurance of our eternal salvation.”
He charged Christian fathers not to toil with the Eucharist because it is the centre of our faith.
The moderator maintained that the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist are the basis of our Christianity and Catholic faith.
He encouraged the Christian men to always be prepared to face temptations like Christ did. He referred the participants to 1st John 2:15-17, which reminds us of the three concupiscence that is, concupiscence of the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of life. He said the devil can easily capture any lukewarm Christian through any of these concupiscence.
He drew reference from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and summed up his teachings with Gandhi’s seven capital sins of the world as follows: Religion without sacrifice, Education without character, Politics without principle, Wealth without work, Science without humanity, Pleasure without conscience and Commerce without morality.
He said most Christians are guilty of the above sins and called for a change of attitude. “We should not see the cross as a doctrine but as a deed and should share willingly what we have with the poor, the needy and the less privilege in our midst, he preached.
The Moderator, Fr. Okonkwo, laid much emphasis on observing silence and decorum during retreats.
At the end of his teachings, the Moderator was bombarded with questions from all angles and he answered them satisfactorily. He charged the participants to go and preach the gospel to the world and be good ambassadors of Christ. He said faith cometh through hearing and now that our faith has been rekindled, we should be active. He later gave the special blessings of the retreat.
Other activities during the retreat were confession, adoration, station of the Cross, Evening prayer, Rosary etc.
At the end of the retreat, the President of the OACCMO, Sir N.A. Nonyelum (KSM) was full of gratitude to God as this year’s retreat was a huge success. He thanked the retreat moderator and the OACCMO Chaplain for their co-operation. He equally expressed gratitude to all the OACCMO members for their support.
In his own remarks, the OACCMO Chaplain, Rev. Fr. S.O. Igbokwe commended the Christian fathers for the orderliness of this year’s retreat and observed that they are now showing maturity in their actions. He equally thanked the Moderator, Rev. Fr. Francis Okonkwo and members of OACCMO for finding time to attend the retreat despite their numerous engagements.
The occasion was also used to celebrate the birthday of the Liturgy Chairman, Sir A.U. Oyiogu, who turned eighty-two years.
(By Jude Opara KSM)