A Goodwill Message of the Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province issued at the end of their First Plenary Meeting held at the Assumpta Pastoral Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Monday, January 20 – Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, gathered as usual to pray and to deliberate on our pastoral ministry, issue the following goodwill message to our people and nation:
Gratitude to God
1. As Nigeria marks one hundred years of its existence as a nation, we give heartfelt thanks to Almighty God for all his blessings and mercies. For creating us in his own image and likeness, male and female, we give thanks; for making us who we are as Nigerians, we give thanks; for giving us our beautiful country with its abundant gifts of nature and culture, we give thanks; and for making us a God-fearing people and nation, we equally give thanks.
2. As we commemorate this centenary milestone in our nation’s existence, we identify with all Nigerians everywhere and join them in grateful celebration. Indeed, this centenary is our God-given chance to look patriotically at our nation Nigeria and start afresh to rebuild her and our lives on a truly Godly and moral foundation.
Commendable Bold Steps
3. In recent times, Nigerians and Africans have taken the bold step of categorically rejecting advances and pressures from certain foreign governments and various agencies to follow them in legalizing what all peoples of all ages consider grave aberrations – moral evils. These sponsors want our people to practise the so-called same-sex “marriage” of homosexuals and lesbians. Under the disguise of false “rights”, they want our people to engage in such anti-life behaviour as contraception, abortion, human trafficking and euthanasia.
4. In this regard, we commend the collaborative effort of Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the National Assembly for signing into law the bill prohibiting same-sex union in Nigeria. As servants and custodians of God’s laws, we unequivocally restate that marriage is the sacred union between a man and a woman. While we sympathize with those with homosexual tendencies and pray for them, we want our people to know and to uphold the truth that being homosexual or lesbian is a moral perversion (Gen.19:5; Lev.18:22, 20:13f; Judges 19:22ff; Rom.1:26-27; 1 Tim.1:9f). On this particular issue, our political leaders courageously stood firm and tall in the face of the baits and threats of certain Western European and the North American government and various donor agencies, that ideologically oppose normal human marriage.
We wish to similarly acknowledge the right steps taken by the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and the State Assembly in repealing the pro-abortion sections of the law he once signed.
Resist Western Ideological Disvalues
5. Evidently, Nigeria like many other developing countries, is not spared by the Western-driven campaign of disvalues. We must not allow our people to be deceived by their hedonism and materialism, by their ultra-liberalism, pseudo-sensualism and immoderate legalism. With their control of the modern means of communication, the internet, radio, television, the newspapers and magazines, the West has continued to bombard our people with their false anti-God and anti-life values.
6. Like St. Paul, we urge you our people not to conform to the standards of this world (Rom.12:1). We earnestly warn you to beware of the rising cases of false teachers, who spread destructive heresies and life-styles. Resist them strong in faith. Strive not to fall. Rather grow in virtue and in the knowledge of true values (cf. 2 Pet.; 1 Tim.).
Building Upon Godly and Moral Values
7. That God is the maker and sustainer of all life is an assertion widely and dearly accepted by our people, be they of traditional, Islamic or Christian confession. Through the ages, our people have wisely shaped and successfully guided their lives based on divine and moral laws. Attempts to live life or organize human society without God and morals will certainly lead to disaster; for without God we can do nothing.
8. We exhort our political and public leaders to ensure that our laws and policies are informed by our highly cherished Godly and moral values. As our nation prepares for the oncoming National Conference and the General Elections 2015, let Godliness and moral rectitude be our watchword! We beckon on our educational authorities to reinvigorate spiritual and moral instruction in our school system. This challenge is even more demanding on our professionals in the health, judicial and commercial sectors. In this all important programme, all hands must be on deck, as we urge our civil society outfits to join in the campaign.
9. Let our traditional rulers and institutions remember their status and roles of being custodians, upholders and enforcers of the noble legacy of our people. Let our parents and families take the primary and centre stage in this onerous task of Godly-moral upbringing of our children.
10. In fidelity to our pastoral ministry, we earnestly call on all in positions of religious leadership to continue to preach, in season and out of season, this message that God’s kingdom of righteousness, so that peace and happiness may reign among us (Rom.14:17).
We enjoin all to continue to pray for our people and nation, as we ask our Blessed Mother Mary to commend all of us unto Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. “To the only wise God our Saviour, be the glory, majesty, power and authority, before all time and now and forever.” Amen. (cf. Jude 1:24f).
God bless our nation. God bless all of us.
Signed:Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna The Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese and Metropolitan of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province (Chairman) Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma The Bishop of Orlu Diocese (Secretary)
For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, January 21, 2014.
The Need for Vigilance in a Threatening Environment
A Pastoral Statement by the Catholic Bishops, Owerri Ecclesiastical
Province, at the Second Plenary Meeting held at the Bishop’s House, Okigwe,
Imo State, from 4th — 5th August, 2020.
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, met to discuss the state of our nation and the challenges facing our people. After prayerful deliberations, we issue the following pastoral statement.
A State of Siege
1. Nothing in recent memory has shaken the world like the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Amidst the unprecedented panic, tension and confusion provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the face of the resurgent insecurity in our land and across the nation, we have every reason to thank God who has kept us alive by his mercy.
Even though we live in these troubling times, in a threatening environment, like St. Paul, we can say, “we are afflicted in every way but not constrained, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10). We make bold to say that our God has not disappointed us.
Challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic
2. The media is awash with details of myriads of infections, isolations, deaths and recovery of patients worldwide. In some places the number is reducing while in some others the cases are spiking every day. The pandemic is felt in all ramifications of human life: social, economic, political, domestic, educational, moral and religious. The impact has brought society to almost a standstill. The consequent lockdown has restricted our movements, businesses, social interactions and even the practice of our religious activities. Series of directives and guidelines are being issued by government agencies. The ambiguity of some of these guidelines pose enormous challenges to our people. As pastors, we are concerned about the negative impact of some of the guidelines, hence, we call for pastoral and civic vigilance.
Vigilance in the face of the Pandemic.
3. Contrary to the opinions and actions of those who would like to make light of the danger of this pandemic, we strongly reaffirm that COVID- 19 is real. There is need to adhere to the prescribed hygienic and other safety measures by the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) namely: frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, wearing of face masks, social distancing and limitation of unnecessary movements.
Governments on their part should rise up to their responsibility of ensuring adequate provisions of basic amenities like running water. Particular attention should be paid to improving our poor healthcare facilities, making provision for more testing centres with affordable services and enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our healthcare workers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened our economic situation, our government and political class must wake up to the urgent need to revive and revamp our fledgling economy to avoid sliding into depression. Given the enormity of the situation at hand, an enabling environment should be created where public, private, educational and research institutions could collaborate to find lasting solutions to the economic emergency.
The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the feebleness of the arrogance of man. The helplessness of both the rich and poor nations, developed and developing world in the midst of this pandemic has revealed the inadequacy of humanity without God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:25). There is need to humble ourselves, return to God and confess our sins, asking for his mercy for without God we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5).
Concern for Continuous Education.
4. The pandemic has also impacted negatively on our educational system. Our schools at all levels have been closed for months. With everybody at home, there has been an increase in domestic violence, abuses and all sorts of crimes. The inadequacy of our educational system and formation have been laid bare.
Some climes have tried to bridge the gap through on-line education. Unfortunately, we lack the basic infrastructure to cue in, except in a handful of places and schools. But this is too few, too selective and too expensive to provide for an integral human formation which is the goal of education. This is a challenge for all stakeholders involved in education. The billions of Naira embezzled regularly could be gainfully used in meeting these challenges.
The emergence of the digital culture calls for all, including the Church, to invest and integrate the techno-scientific (digital) learning into our educational system, bearing in mind the need to balance it with moral-spiritual formation so as to provide a holistic education.
As schools re-open for the exit classes and subsequently other classes, the safety and health of our pupils, students and staff should be a top priority. Given that the mission/voluntary agency schools play a complementary role in the education of our children, we solicit the government to extend financial assistance to them.
Vigilance in the face of Insecurity
5. Bearing in mind that no economic or educational endeavor can thrive in a volatile and unsafe environment, the security and safety of the nation at large and Igboland in particular deserve special attention. Recent and frequent cases of ravaging, displacement and unlawful occupation of farmlands of indigenes by marauding herdsmen are a cause for serious concern. Kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, incessant killings which have continued unabated cast serious doubts on the willingness and capability of our security outfits to rise up to their constitutional responsibility.
We, the Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, join our Metropolitan Archbishop of Owerri in calling the Governors of Abia and Imo States and other Governors as Chief Security Officers of their respective States to protect the lives of our people, their homes and their lands. We urge all our people to rise up in prayer to God, in vigilance and in legitimate self-defense, for “the right to life, to our homes and to our lands is God-given.”
6. We remain grateful to God for sustaining us with his providential care. Despite myriads of challenges, our Province has continued to witness more growth in the lay apostolate, religious and priestly vocations climaxing in the Episcopal Ordinations of Most Rev. Augustine Ndubueze Echema, Bishop of Aba Diocese and Most Rev. Michael Kalu Ukpong, Auxiliary Bishop of Umuahia Diocese.
We also use this medium to thank our benefactors and benefactresses, governments, charity organizations and all who personally or collectively, from within or from the diaspora, reached out to our people and communities with different forms of palliative assistance. May God reward you all and continue to bless you.
We equally extend our gratitude to health care workers, who risk their lives to assist the sick. We pray for the happy repose of those who died as a result of the pandemic and as victims of the insecurity in our land.
Conclusion: Encouraging steadfastness in faith and Prayer.
7. We commend all our faithful who during the lock-down remained steadfast in prayer, attendance to Masses, holiness of life, to continue. Such is the way to growth in spiritual life. We encourage all to break from fear and eschew lukewarmness.
May Mary, comforter of the afflicted and Mother of Mercy continue to intercede for us. Amen.
Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna
Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma
COMMUNIQUE OF THE OWERRI GRAND COMMANDERY, KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN INTERNATIONAL AND GRAND LADIES AUXILIARY 13TH AND 12TH BIENNIAL CONVENTION DECEMBER 2019
WHEREAS the Owerri Grand Commandery of the Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of St. John International gathered by delegates assembled from Thursday 5th December 2019, to Saturday 7th December 2019 for the 13th Biennial Convention of the Grand Commandery and the 1 12th Biennial Convention of the Grand Ladies Auxiliary at the Owerri Grand Commandery Headquarters at the Knights of St, John International Complex No.1 KSJI Avenue Owerri; AND WHEREAS the theme of the Convention was the beatitude categorized and enunciated by Christ, Our Lord and Master, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God” (Mt 5:9), resonating the blessings of Peace by the Prince of Peace himself, and reminding ourselves of our vocation particularly in an anxious world desperately in need for peace but searching for peace in all the wrong places and through all the wrong means; EVER CONSCIOUS of our commission and thankful for the opportunity to serve so noble a cause and so worthy a Saviour in our vocation as Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of St. John International, we by this communiqué declare our deliberations and resolutions in the following respects:
1. We thank the Almighty God for the gift of the Church, for the gift of our Holy Father Pope Francis and the leadership of the Universal Church. We remain immensely proud of the unique role His Holiness has played in the world as a voice for peace, and an active symbol of the moral and courageous leadership that is necessary for peace in our World. We salute and commend with great admiration his unwavering and unrelenting commitment to awakening the conscience of the World and society in that direction. We pray that the Almighty God may continue to strengthen the Vicar of Christ in his Petrine ministry and to bless the Universal Church in her compelling mission of urging all of humanity to “Hear what the Lord God has to say; a voice that speaks of peace (Psalm 85:8).
2. We continue to be grateful to God for the steady growth and sustenance by His grace of the Nigerian Church in general and of our province in particular. We congratulate and celebrate the Metropolitan of our Owerri Ecclesiastical Province His Grace, Archbishop Anthony J. V Obinna and all the Bishops of our province for their love and support for the flock entrusted to them as we recall the auspicious events of the Silver Jubilee of our Owerri Ecclesiastical Province. We especially thank the Holy Father for the recent appointment of an Auxiliary Bishop for the Owerri Archdiocese in the person of Monsignor Moses Chikwe. This is an epochal event as it is the very first appointment of an auxiliary Bishop in our Province. We congratulate the new Bishop-elect and all the Bishops of our Province. We extend our felicitations to the whole worshipping Community of our Province and urge that we all enable the grace of these celebrations and continuing joys to aid us not just in keeping the faith but in ably moving its frontiers by the missionary force of daily and habitual example.
3. We wish to put on record our immeasurable thanks and gratitude to our outgoing Grand Spiritual Director, Monsignor Anthony Njoku for his great work and spiritual leadership of our Grand Commandery for over Eleven years. We ask God to continue to bless him as our prayers follow him with great appreciation and love. We welcome and congratulate our new Spiritual Director, already a long-time member and spiritual guide of our great KSJI Family, Rev. Fr. Kizito Onyeka on his appointment. We have immense confidence in his abilities and we trust that God will shower him with the light to guide us in His grace. We also record our thanks and appreciation of all our Spiritual Advisers in our province and Grand Commandery for their tireless and heroic efforts in keeping us spiritually alert and sanctified, and for being an abiding testimony of the presence and imprimatur of the Church’s Magisterium in the apostolate of our Noble Order.
4. We want to express our total and implicit confidence in the authority, guidance and direction of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria even as the Order of the Knights of St. John International in Nigeria hits testy times and grapples with its trials. We are not afraid because we know we have the Holy Spirit ever present in the Church to guide us. Our implicit faith is to emphasize our confidence that the Spirit of God will always lead us right, and that even in our moments of soul-searching and turbulent discovery as in the current situations we take consolation in the everlasting word of Jesus that are ever-recurring in the Gospels and indeed the entire scriptures; “Be not afraid!” We trust in the ableness of Our Master to instil quietness in the tempest and still the storm (Mark 4:35-41)
5. As we review our years since the last convention two years ago, with great pride we thank God for the brave milestones we have achieved in the recent years that have built the achievements of the past leadership of our Grand Commandery. We thank God for the several infrastructural developments we have achieved as a Grand Commandery, particularly the launching and earnest continuing execution of our New Grand Hostel Building Project. We thank all our members, friends and supporters everywhere who have answered the call and honoured our invitations in that regard. We also urge all of them and our well wishers to back up the physical execution of the projects with prayers and earnest solicitations to the Almighty God because “if the Lord does not build the House in vain do the labourers toil” (Psalm 127:1)
6. We emphasize and urge on all our members the great need to intensify the formation and organizing of our cadets and juniors to create a veritable force for good and ensure the continuance of our Noble Order. We must place that goal at the top of the list of our priorities. We must guide and guard our cadets and juniors more jealously than a lioness guards her cubs, not only from the physical dangers with which our society is fraught but also the wasteful and waste laying waves of both militant and latent Pentecostalism, not to talk of the materialism that has left our Nigerian society in a pitiable state of utter ruins. We urge all our knights and ladies to rise up, watch and pray.
7. We lament the decaying state of the National economy and indeed the entire fabric of Nigerian society. We observe that the promises of the current administration and the hopes it raised have not borne much fruit to the great disappointment of the Nigerian people. Most of all, both the moral and physical aspects of our societal security have gone downhill. The scourge of official insensitivity and harshness, generally perceived ambivalence with respect to the enforcement of laws, tolerance for and inaction upon breaches of security are a veritable present and continuing danger to peace in our country. We still live in a state of brutish nature when the unfortunate impression is created by inaction that our government and society can condone or even slightly tolerate acts of inhumanity to fellow human beings. We join our voices with those of the CBCN in calling for more purposeful leadership. We want peace; not the peace of the grave, or the frustrated silence of a captive populace. We want a just peace in a just society.
8. Finally, as we look forward to the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace at Christmas, we urge on all our fellow Christians and all our countrymen and women the Peace of Christ. We continue to pray that he grant us peace in our days; the peace which the World cannot give. We urge all of us to imbibe the virtues of true children of God and to practice peace by keeping peaceful and just dispositions. We also urge that we all keep the faith, keep up our hope and persevere in our love of God and Neighbour. Those three virtues and dispositions can never fail us. We shall keep our optimism which is the gift our savior Jesus Christ blesses the World with and reminds us of each year at Christmas. We prayerfully wish for all of us a Spirit filled Christmas and a more prosperous and peaceful New Year 2020.
DATED THIS 7TH DAY OF DECEMBER, 2019.
Resolutions of the Third National Convention of the Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN)
Held at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Jos, Plateau State September 25-28, 2019
We, members of Catholic Media Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN) converged on Jos, the Plateau State capital, from September 25-28, 2019 for our Third National Convention with the theme: The New Media and Evangelization in Nigeria: ‘A Reflection’.
During the convention, we brainstormed on how to support the propagation of our faith using the new media.
The Convention had in attendance the Apostolic Administrator of Jos Archdiocese and Coadjutor Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, Most Rev Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the CBCN Bishop Chairman for Social Communications and the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, His Lordship, Most Rev Denis Isizoh, who was represented by the National Director of Communications and Deputy Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Very Rev. Fr. Chris Anyanwu, PhD, President of SIGNIS-Nigeria and Director of Communications, Abuja Archdiocese, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Alumuku, PhD, as well as the Directors of Jos Archdiocese, Dioceses of Sokoto, Pankshin and Bauchi.
Others in attendance include the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen represented by Mrs Veronica Dewa, representatives of the Commissioner of Police, Plateau state Command, Federal Road Safety Corps, Long Goemai of Shendam, HRM, Miskoom Martins Shaldas lll, the Ujah of Anaguta, the traditional head of Naraguta, was represented by Yakubu Shishok, SIGNIS officials and CAMPAN delegates from different Arch/dioceses across Nigeria.
Paper presentations were made by the Vicar-General Administration of Jos Archdiocese, Rt Rev Msgr Cletus Tanimu Gotan on the ‘Challenges and Opportunities of new media and evangelization ‘ while Very Rev Fr Gabriel Gowok of the University of Jos paper focused on on ‘A Reflection’.
The Convention looked at Christian evangelization in the digital age and appreciated the fact that from the time of the Apostles to date, the methodology of evangelization has changed allowing the adoption of new techniques of proclaiming the Word of God, and agreed that there is a need to utilize mass media platforms and its effects.
The Convention noted that over 60 per cent of the young people are on the social media platforms and, therefore, it is important for the Church to utilize the medium to spread the Gospel. The Convention also noted that much as the new media can strengthen the Church’s efforts at evangelization, formation, and communication, it can as well ruin the Church, if it is not well used.
CAMPAN carefully considered the said issues and resolved as follows:
1. That CAMPAN aligns with the current communiqué of the CBCN in its entity issued during their second plenary meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun State from September 11-20, 2019.
2. That Arch/dioceses who are left behind in the digital age should key in and give support to CAMPAN members, who are ready to make public the Gospel message.
3. That, though the faith and tradition of the Church remain the same, the mode of reaching the people can be complimented by using the new media.
4. In our resolve to give in our best, we need chaplains that have passion for communication and that they should receive some sorts of training to help in executing the mission and vision of the Church’s Social Communication Apostolate in their arch/dioceses.
We also want our bishops to also organize trainings and refresher programs for lay personnel working in the Directorate of Social Communications in our Arch/dioceses in the art of positively using the new media to promote evangelization.
5. That CAMPAN will work towards facilitating the establishment of its chapters in arch/dioceses where they are not yet in existence within the next one year.
6. That CAMPAN, in total collaboration with the Church’s hierarchy, will take advantage of the young people’s interests in the new media to engage them to embrace the gospel and educate them to use the internet responsibly.
7. That CAMPAN members should key into the mission and vision of the the Catholic Church’s Social Communication Department in the various Arch/dioceses.
With our different expertise as members of CAMPAN, we have resolved to recommend and suggest other ways of reaching out to our teeming population to the Church’s hierarchy with every humility. Thus, we suggest that:
1. Arch/dioceses should develop pastoral plans for evangelization and they should make social communications more effective and efficient in positively promoting the activities of the Catholic Church within and to the outside world.
2. Arch/dioceses should evaluate the effectiveness of their communication tools and strategies and where necessary upgrade to current trend.
3. There should be the establishment of communications’ committee in all parishes across the country.
CAMPAN expresses its appreciation to the Bishops, the clergy and the lay faithful from Jos Ecclesiastical Province for the warm hospitality extended to the national delegates during the convention.
Mr. Patrick OSU
CAMPAN National President
Mr. Peter DADA
CAMPAN Secretary General
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