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The Act Of Thanksgiving
Giving thanks to God the Creator for the gift of life and for His abundant blessings, has always been a part of Catholic Church doctrine and dogma which clearly distinguishes her from any other church or group.

Over the years, the Church often organizes harvest/bazaar thanksgiving as a platform for the faithful to give thanks to God for success recorded in every area of their lives and for the gift of life at the concluding year and pray for another successful “harvest” in the upcoming year. To this end, the act of giving thanks was and still remains the primary reason for organizing annual harvest thanksgiving in our Parishes, mass centers and out stations.

Sadly, the manner at which some faithful respond to this yearly celebration is not in consonance with the spirit behind the event. Some see it as an annual event that does not require adequate and prompt attention and also as an opportunity for them to avoid mass at their Parish and move to other Parishes in other for them not to be part of the celebration.

The practice of relocating from one Parish to another in order not to be a part of the celebration should be jettisoned, as the essence of harvest thanksgiving is not about donations, but an opportunity to appreciate God for His uncountable mercies and faithfulness to us and even in our unfaithful and sinful state. Besides, what can we give to God that He has not given us?

As we mark our adult and children harvest thanksgiving in our various Parishes, mass centers and out stations, we should endeavor to play active part in the celebration, thank God with our substance for His grace to witness another harvest thanksgiving despite our unworthiness and pray for a successful year ahead.

Therefore, unlike Abel in the bible, we should endeavor to give our best to God instead of presenting our least sacrifice to God; this will open the gate of heaven for more blessings.

Have a successful harvest thanksgiving.
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Christ Went About Doing Good
Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). His Apostles and disciples “were witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and Jerusalem” (Acts 10:39). The Church, through the Apostles, received the sacred mandate from the selfsame Jesus Christ to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons” (Mtt 10:8).

In faithfulness to all that Jesus Christ went about doing well and mandated the Church to go into the world and continues to do, the Church, with and in her faithful, has continued the works of curing, healing of the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons, ever since that mandate was given by Jesus Christ. This is the origin of the provision for the health care delivery services which the Catholic Church in Nigeria has been rendering to the people of Nigeria since 1895 till date and very much determined, more than ever before, to continue doing till the end of time.

Consequently, it is the creation of the necessary and deeper awareness geared towards reawakening the needed enthusiasm in the hearts and minds of men and women of our time, who will be capable and willing collaborators with the Church, to provide effective, efficient, available and affordable health care delivery services to all and sundry in every nook and cranny of our society, and beyond which is the reason to organize health summits.

We are thankful to God for the numerous human and material resources which God has blessed us with. As an expression of our appreciation to God and man, I wish to cordially call on our brothers and sisters in all tiers of Government: Federal, State, Local and other levels to be mindful of their responsibility to make provision for all-inclusive budgetary services which will in no way, never again after this summit sidetrack the Church and others who are ready and willing to be partners in progress in this regard.

Praying that God will be pleased to enlighten our hearts and minds, so that we can all be available to participate and contribute meaningfully to the success of our health sector.
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MARY HAS PROVED A FAITHFUL COMPANION AND A GENEROUS ASSOCIATE OF CHRIST HER SON
» By Rev. Fr. Alfred Ebalu
INTRODUCTION

No nation ever had a greater citizen than a mother, who taught her children how to pray. Many thousand years after God promised our fallen First Parents a Redeemer, who would come to reopen the gates of heaven, the people had a number of ideas on how this Redeemer would come. First they thought about Greatness and power, in their minds, this was associated with and wealth armies of soldiers. But when God decided to show Himself to the people, He came to our earth in His way in the same manner that we all came through the avenue of motherhood. All the people on earth had to have something in common, just as we all do in this Church. We all had or still have a mother. “Mary is Our MOTHER.”

THE CONCEPT OF MOTHERHOOD
The concept of motherhood carries within itself; essentially, love and total willingness to serve. It is important also to understand her spiritual role as the Mother of the Church, in our Christian life as participant in the common Priesthood of Jesus Christ, and as such, by the reason of the unity of this mystical Body, each one of us is personally configured to Jesus Christ, through the union of His Humanity with the Word. In other words, in the Mystical Body of Christ, each and every one of us forms a part of the whole with others, and remains personally an image of Jesus Christ, as a Christian, and thus, another child of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Supernatural reality calls to mind that Jesus Christ came into this world through the BVM, and that we go to Him through her, and personally enter into spiritual relationship with Him, to become a part of His mystical Body, the church, whose Mother remains the BVM, and the Mediatrix of all graces.

Therefore, since our Blessed Mother Mary acts as an associate of Jesus Christ, the Model High Priest, and as the Mother of the Church, we are all earnestly urged, never to loose sight of her.

Over and above all, the ordained ministers need to bear in mind that the important phrase in the ministerial priesthood which states “Do this in memory of me relates to the mission of the cross, - hence, the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ who says: “Behold your mother” (John 19:26-27), is importantly directed in a special way, to them, as (us) as the beloved apostles and the ambassadors of Christ.

In other words, the depth of this expression signifies that the ministers, in this sense repeat St. John's attitude in receiving the BVM into a communion of life. The obvious priestly spirituality that flows from this relationship cannot be considered complete, if it were to fail to value the massage of Jesus word on the Cross, in which he conferred his Mother to the beloved disciple, hence all of us have been called to continue His salvific mission in the world. Generally, each one of us has a special bond with BVM, Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of the Church. The special relationship we have with her is that we enjoy a special right to her love, and intercessions, for the effective continuation of her Sons salvific work, which is very challenging, especially in this sophisticated and scientific world of today.

MARY THE FIRST AND MOST OUTSTANDING BELIEVER

Pope John Paul II says that: “in the liturgy, the Church salutes Mary of Nazareth as the church's beginning, for in the event of the Immaculate Conception the church sees projected in her most noble member (the Blessed Virgin Mary) the saving grace of Easter”. Here the Pope calls Mary the noblest member of the church showing that Mary stands out among all believers in Christ.
After calling her the most noble member of the church, he goes on to say that the Church is a Community of believers in Christ journeying through the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary, who, advanced in her pilgrimage of faith up to the Cross.

The two statements of the Pope above point to the fact that Mary is the Church's beginning and that she is the most outstanding believer, hence she leads the way and other believers follow her in her pilgrimage of faith, to meet their Lord. The Vatican II Council says that she “stands in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar through her faith and obedience.”

George Kaitholilis was bold to say that “Mary is a model of faith and the ideal which every Christian should copy”. In the words of Megan McKenna, Mary is not just the first Christian believer but she is the model disciple, one who believes more and more and more until resurrection overshadowed all belief and birthed a hope that demanded pure faith.'

The above statements go a long way to show that Mary is the first and outstanding Christian. A real model that “Her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the church, for individuals and for communities, for peoples and nations, and on a sense for all humanity.”

The election of Mary as the Mother of the Son of God makes it possible for her to be the first among all believers to encounter Christ in faith and in reality. Her divine motherhood places her in dignity that is higher than that of all believers thus making her the most outstanding believer of all times. Pope John Paul II says that: “the election of Mary is wholly exceptional and unique. Hence also the singularity and uniqueness of her place in the mystery of Christ”. Mary thus remains before God, and also before the whole humanity, as the unchangeable and inviolable sign of election.

On this note, the Vatican II council states that Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently awaits and receives salvation from him”. The Council fathers again say that since Mary is the first and most outstanding believer, then “in her the church has already reached that perfection where she exists without spot or wrinkle” and that Mary shines forth to the whole community of the elects as the model of virtues.

Mary is the most blessed of all human beings believers and unbelievers alike. Because of her blessedness she becomes the model for all Christians as we have already said. She is intimately united to Jesus because she has received in full the blessedness which Christ came to give to mankind. This puts her in a privilege position which makes her not just the first believer but the most outstanding believer in Christian era and of all times.

MARY A FAITHFUL COMPANION OF THE INCARNATE WORD
Pope John Paul II says that:

In the mystery of Christ Mary is present even 'before the creation of the world', and as the one whom the Father has chosen as Mother of his Son in the incarnation. And what is more, together with the Father, the Son has chosen her, entrusting her eternally to the spirit of holiness. In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ.

Mary in the words of the Pope was eternally chosen to be a faithful companion of the Incarnate Word in his redemptive work in an entirely special and in an exceptional way. This is because it is in the Word, the hypostatic union of the Son of God with human nature, is accomplished. The Pope says that: from the first moment of her existence, Mary belongs to Christ and share in the salvific and sanctifying grace of the Son of the eternal father who through the Incarnation became her son. It can rightly be said that from the very moment of her existence Mary never ceased to be a faithful companion of Christ.

Mary in a physical sense became a faithful companion of the Word when she accepted him in faith and conceived him in her womb. Shortly after this humble acceptance, she visited Elizabeth and there she was acknowledged as “the Mother of the Lord” (Luke 1:43). St. John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother's womb because of the presence of the Lord and his Mother felt this leap of joy (Luke 1:44). Mary carried him in her womb for nine months and at birth she was the first human being to see the son of God in his human form. She presented him in the temple and when he got lost for three days she was very anxious to find him. She was a faitifu1 companion of Christ in those hidden years before his public ministry. She faithfully co-operated with him till he completed his salvific work on earth.

It is no wonder then that at his general audience on Wednesday 9th April 1997, the Pope said:
The Blessed virgin's role as co-operator has its source in her divine motherhood. By giving birth to one who was destined to achieve man's redemption, by nourishing him, presenting him in the temple and suffering with him as he died on the cross, 'in wholly singular way she co-operated in the work of the saviour'. Although God's call to cooperate in the work of salvation concerns every human being, the participation of the Saviour's Mother in humanity's redemption is a unique and unrepeatable fact.

On their part the council Father uses the word “generous associate” to describe Mary's faithful companionship with Christ in his redemption work. “In the design of the divine providence, she was the generous mother of the divine redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. This statement by the council Fathers shows that above all others, Mary generously associated with Christ and showed herself his faithful companion.
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Whose Woman's Turn Is It? - The Many Troubles With Polygamy (Pt. II)
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhanosime
Male polygamy gives man impunity to violate women. It stands strongly contradictory and inconsistent to human right and dignity. "At the international level, while polygamy is not explicitly prohibited in any international treaties, it violates such basic human rights as the right to protection of the dignity of women, the right to equality within the family and the right to equal protection of women under the law. It is widely accepted that the practice of polygamy is inconsistent with article 16(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that men and women are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, and article 16(1)(b) of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which guarantees the right to freely choose a spouse and enter into a marriage with free and full consent. Further, polygamy is inconsistent with article 23(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires state parties to take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage. Those provisions refer to the institution of marriage as based on the equality of the husband and wife. The practice of polygamy directly contradicts the principle of equality because it grants one spouse the unilateral right to take multiple partners without spousal consent and then requires the first spouse to share the resources of the marriage as a result of that decision"(cf. http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/127113).

In 1994, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women focused on the rights of women within the context of the family and analysed articles of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that relate to polygamy. The committee emphatically expressed their concern and resolve, thus, "polygamous marriage contravenes a woman's right to equality with men, and can have such serious emotional and financial consequences for her and her dependants that such marriages ought to be discouraged and prohibited." The Committee concluded that in several states the continuing practice of polygamy violates constitutional guarantees of equal rights for women.

Polygamy has just many problems, not just for the women alone but also for the children. A polygamous home is just another broken home. Children to grow up well need the care and attention of both parents. But that is not the case with polygamy. Women invariably raise the children with little attention and assistance of the father, most often than not; the male parental investment is often low. Children who grow up in this environment grow up with a different and commonly a warped understanding of life and love. First, the male children learn to be superior and the female inferior. That is because; they have learnt from their father that he is the household demagogue, while their mothers are the vassals. This forms a complex and a misunderstanding of life and the corresponding life's reactions are likely to be violence and moral permissiveness. The male children learn to be domineering while the female children learn to be permissive. This moral permissiveness is resultant from the fact that they have seen their father display a rabid and an insatiable sexual appetite for women. Sometimes too, the men with more wives are scandalously those involved in adultery and extra-marital sexual escapades. Children often learn from what they see. Since their thoughts of family life are not marked with positive impressions, their approach to life and society is often not positive. Admittedly however, some children out of exposure and social interaction learn to break away from this kind of life and sometimes contribute very positively to society.

Again, the children of sister-wives learn to be in competition if the competition amongst the wives are too damaging. Such competition supported with poor attention from the father has often led to an attraction to cultism and occultism. While the male children could be more vulnerable to offhand sects, the female children are equally susceptible to indulgent companies. The female children sometimes end up in early marriages so they can gain quick support for life, some teenage pregnancy and for the worldly shrewd ones, they run a number of abortions. The competition amongst the children even takes a more noxious turn when the father is a wealthy man and there is strut for inheritance. This inheritance struggle sometimes even pushes the wives to maliciously supporting their children towards edging others and so on. This unholy game can just be more complex than bargained. Simply put, polygamy increases society's crime rate. The reasons are not farfetched.

As the polygamous relationship brings with it a wealth of potential problems for society, for children, for distribution of property and inheritance, for possible divorce proceedings and child custody, for recognizing the equality of the sexes and the rights of women, etc., the state and the public may very well make regulation on such issue without it trampling on individual freedom as it sometimes is erroneously believed otherwise. In fact, when a state regulates against polygamy as some countries have so ruled, it would be in keeping with her mandate of preserving the rights of everyone, which is an obligation of the government of the day. It too would not be trampling on religious freedom. To invoke religious freedom will probably not work either as there are many religious practices that law forbids. Denying blood transfusions to children, consuming certain drugs, animal sacrifices, etc. have claimed religious foundation to no avail, so too would be the legal ruling against polygamy by a state.

Polygamy distorts the interpretative ends of marriage: unity and procreation. In unity, its interpretative end indicates that a man be “wholly” joined to a woman and similarly commits his cause to hers and vice-versa. This fact is distorted as a man has his unity split with more than one woman which itself ceases to be unity. In the interpretative end of procreation, it implied, responsible parenthood; that is commitment to care and nurture by both parents. The woman in male-polygamous marriages is often the caregiver of the children as the man cannot be committed to all of each woman's children in the same way. In this wise, polygamy as an option for marriage is not a wise option, at least, considering its diverse troubles. We conclude therefore, that since polygyny is no better than polyandry and male-dominance mentality among animals in its primitive nature and most importantly because it hinders women from realizing their invaluable dignity and equality with men as imago Dei (image of God), it must therefore now give way. It must give way for true humanism, human dignity and equality, and God's original vision for marriage.
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Beyond Islam In Nigeria
» By Rev. Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua
Almost all the newspapers of Thursday September 26, 2013 reported that the insecurity in Nigeria is an effort to overthrow democracy in favour of theocracy, a government where God would be the president of Nigeria. It should be noted that even in a theocratic government, God uses human beings as instrument to execute the divine laws. For instance, in Africa, Islam, through human agents has had some positive influence in the religious, economic and political life of many Countries. They are: Algeria, Angola, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Looking at the life of Saudi Arabia where the call to Islam originated from, one is tempted to look beyond Islam in the enquiry of the root causes of the violence in some parts of Africa. Islam being a total way of life ought to enrich all aspects of life in Africa. The use of Arabic numerals can be traced to Islam. That a person can recite the whole Qur'an means that a true Muslim has the intellectual potential to contribute positively to the technology and civilization of any nation. Saudi Government is able to honestly manage the oil wealth of their country because of their religious conviction and intellectual disposition. This is to say that Islam is not synonymous to ignorance as some adherents tend to portray. It is obvious today that we are reaping the fruits of ignorance and not what some people call “radical Islam”. It is difficult to manipulate an enlightened person even in abject material poverty.

In Edo State of Nigeria, Auchi that has a very high population of Muslims in Edo North is one of the most peaceful communities in Nigeria. Life in Auchi is not defined by religion. Muslims, Christians and adherents of traditional religion live together in peace and harmony. This has encouraged dialogue of life and social engagements. The traditional ruler of Auchi is known for his conviction that he is not the Otaru of Auchi Muslims only but the Otaru of everybody irrespective of religion. The royal family of Auchi has the highest number of graduates in Auchi kingdom.

In most of our meetings with Christians and Muslims in Interreligious relations; some people often look out for the Muslims from the Northern part of Nigeria. A lot of people believe that Islam in the North is different from anywhere else in Nigeria. Some people have taken the insecurity in the North to mean that all the Muslims in the North are violent. On the contrary I have personal experiences that make me think otherwise. In 1991, I went to New Benin market in Edo State Nigeria to change some dollars into naira. Three months after, I went to the same “malam” from the far North of Nigeria for the same business. Immediately the man saw me he said, “I have been praying to Allah that I would see you again. The last time you came to change money; I discovered that I did not give you the whole money in naira. 'Walahi!' Islam teaches me that I should not cheat anybody”. I was amazed at the man's honesty when he handed me a sealed envelope containing the balanced money which he kept hoping that one day, he would see me. Other examples of wonderful honest and loving Muslims from the Northern part of Nigeria are numerous. When we were young we find it safer to trade with the Northern Muslims because of their honesty and sincerity. This is why I think that we should look beyond Islam in finding solution to the insecurity that is presently ravaging Nigeria and other parts of the world. It is alleged that Christians find it difficult to acquire land to build Churches in the Muslim dominated areas of Northern Nigeria. Is this the teaching of Islam or the manipulation of Political leaders?

The history of Islam in Nigeria appears to reveal that some people and group of people have deviated from the true teaching of the prophet of Islam (SAW). In Nigeria, it is possible to identify the Sunni, Shia and Ahmadiyya Islam that originated from India in the 19th century as a reformatory sect. In Christianity, the community of Jesus Christ existed as a single Church for almost sixteen centuries. It was easy to identify the Church as One, Holy, Apostolic and Universal. The message and interpretation of Islam was one and universal during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The efforts of human beings to proliferate the message of the prophets by forming sects and denominations have not promoted the unity of believers in the history of religion.

The era of 1970-1980 witnessed the rise of Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine, who started a religious revolution in Kano. Maitatsine claimed to have had divine revelations to purify Islam by attacking traditional mosques and congregations. The work of Abiodun Alao on “Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Nigeria, retrieved March 1, 2013” reveals that Muhammadu Marwa, the leader of the Maitatsine group was killed in 1980, he was succeeded by Musa Makaniki who was also executed in 2006. Another leader of Yan Tatsine, Malam Badamasi, was killed in 2009. At the dusk of Maitasine revolution, it was clear that their agenda was far from true Islam.

In the Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, 2007, the essay on Othman Dan Fodio affirms that “in the early 19th century, Islamic scholar Usman dan Fodio launched a jihad against the Hausa Kingdoms of Northern Nigeria. He was victorious, and established the Fulani Empire with its capital at Sokoto”. One would have expected Sokoto to be the citadel of terrorism if our current security situation is a purely Islamic agenda. It is worthy of note that we do not hear of terrorist activities in Sokoto even when Alhaji Shehu Shagari, was unjustly overthrown in a coup by a fellow Muslim. Therefore, we need to go beyond the claim that the terrorist want to overthrow democracy for Islam. Beyond Islam, let us examine other possible causes like politics, ethnic bigotry, material poverty and outright manipulation of others. Is it not possible that the same people who are financing this terrorist agenda are those who have lost relevance in the democratic process? Let us search deeper and not be distracted with this game that is dressed in a religious garment.
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STRESS
» By Pharm. Nnzewi
Stress as related to health is a nervous outcome of too many activities physically and mentally. The condition is usually characterized by physical and mental overload of a person without accompanying adequate rest. The net effect of this is that there is challenge to health. Stress is inevitably part of life but must be parallel with rest. It can undermine our mental and physical health and cause personality changes. In the world today, many people live under much stress. It is also notable that people's reaction to stressful situations differs. By this we mean that that which is taken insignificant by one person may cause another person so much worry that can lead to insanity. I will here emphasize an important tonic to the distress of life which is the WORD OF GOD. Causes of stress are various and multifarious and their effect also vary from person to person. People who persistently have negative effects will on the long run have a negative effect on their health. Mad people, foolish and stupid people tend to be stress free. It follows that it will be wise to control our senses, thoughts and imaginations.

STRESSORS: Stressors are those things that precipitate stress. Among stressors are, work force, noise, unfriendly people, uncertainties, threat, challenging situations, non, preparedness for an important event such as examination or wedding, debt, a speeding car, financial constraint, bereavement, loss of cherished job, divorce, conflicts at work, and difficult situations. I want to remark again that these things will have their tolls on us only if we refuse to heed that we should trust God and set our minds not on the things that are on earth but on the things that are in heaven. Stress could be self induced and environmentally induced.

EFFECTS; Stress can lead to the following influence such as affecting the way we think and feel, our behavior, and our health (Hypertension). Restlessness, anger, irritability, sadness, forgetfulness, sense of insecurity, fatigue, depression, anxiety, confusion, and the tendency to sweat can be found in a state of stress. Stress can also give rise to abuse of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco like cigarette. In other words, stress can lead an individual into addiction, eating too much or too little, loss of integrity, unnecessary high tempo when talking, or reacting to issues, and out bursts of anger. The worst effect of stress is on a person's health. It can cause increased heart rate, high blood pressure, poor memory, poor mental and physical health, loss of libido, lowered immunity, and subjection to infections, confusion, sleeplessness, rapid breathing, chest pain and others.

MANAGEMENT OF STRESS: Relaxation involvements such as amusement parks, riddles and jokes, holiday outside your usual environment etc can all burst stress. Note that resorting to alcohol is not a good approach to fighting stress because the one may be thrown into depression when the effect of alcohol wears out.

EXERCISE: Exercise is known to alleviate stress. It helps mentally and physically and therefore is a good stress buster. To avoid stress, learn to share work and don't feel that you alone can do all the work. Avoid uptake of too many commitments. Avoid alcohol and hard drugs like Indian hemp, cocaine and their like. Stop or cut down your intake of cigarette, kola nut, and coffee.

NUTRITION:
Take to a healthy and balanced diet and also avoid over feeding. Take a lot of fruits and vegetables.

RELAXATION:
Relaxation is important tonic to stress. It must not be all work, it is necessary to create intervals of rest. Avoid worrying too much over any situation beyond you. Learn to believe and trust God believing that He is always there for you. The God with whom all things are possible told us not to be afraid and also not to be anxious over ANYTHING. Learn how to Praise and Praise when the odds add up against you. I hereby assure you just as you already know that God is GOOD.

DRUG:
Thanks to research work and information technology. The drug is called 'Calming Chronic Stress Capsule'. Dr. C. Hammoud M. H. PhD recommends it for chronic stress, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, lack of motivation, inadequate feelings, seasonal affective disorders, compulsive disorders, eating disorders, restoration of adrenal balance, and mental well being. If you are trying to take anti depressants, try this natural health product first for its calming effect without side effects. Many people have confirmed the effectiveness of this NATURAL PRODUCT.
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A Decline In The Sacrament Of Confession
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
One of the problems that the Catholic Church is beset with is the decline in the Sacrament of Confession. In times past, it was a common practice for Catholic faithful in preparation for Sunday Eucharist, to go to Confession. Then one could notice the faithful quietly seated in large numbers each taking turns to approach the priest at the Confessional to make Confession to God through the priest. However, the situation has since taken a new turn. We now experience a decline in the number of penitent. The situation has so degenerated that even in many parishes the priest sits at the confessional and no one approaches him for confession. This sign tells a lot about the crisis of faith. When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth (Lk 18:8)? So many reasons could be adduced for this decline in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

First, the open nature of the confessional: In times past, confessionals were built in the form of a cubicle, whereby the priest could not see the penitent. He could only hear the voice of the penitent. Today, that practice has been overtaken by history, and so many penitents find it highly uncomfortable to approach the priest for confession because they feel the priest is familiar with them, so they would not want the priest to see them as sinners. Many do not know that the priest is bound by confessional seal or secrecy. The priest is under obligation to avoid the use of confessional knowledge which will directly or indirectly lead to the betrayal of the penitent's identity. The Sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion (Can 983 § 1). He is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded (Can 984 § 1).

Another reason for the decline in the Sacrament of Penance is the loss of the sense of sin. Many people no longer have a sense of guilt. They no longer regard sin as an offence against God, but as weakness. Human beings have evolved a new terminology for sin. Sin is now seen as weakness, not an offence against God. According to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, sin is not the worst thing in the world. The worst thing in the world is the denial of sin. There is a growing rationalization of sin in the world today that many no longer see themselves as sinners, but saints. Anyone who hides his sins will not prosper, but anyone who confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (Pro 28:13). Anyone who because of shame or familiarity conceals or hides any sin is guilty of a great sacrilege and profanes the Sacrament.

Despair or Loss of faith is another reason for the decline in the Sacrament of Penance. Many in their struggle against their weakness have given in to despair. Like St. Paul, they always see themselves doing what they would not want to do. Confessing a particular sin often has made them miserable (Rom 7:14-24). For them there is no need to struggle since there is a great possibility that one will commit the same sin again. This is despair. Any attempt to strive for perfection on one's strength alone without relying on the grace of God by constantly calling on God in prayer, will bring about frustration and a total decline in the struggle for holiness. Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders will build in vain (Ps 127:1). It is through the grace of Christ Jesus that we can achieve that which seems difficult (Phil 4:13). Nothing is impossible with God (Mt 19:26; Lk 1:37).

Another dimension of the loss of faith is the tendency of regarding the priest as a human being and not a minister of God. Many Catholic faithful have imbibed false teaching from the wave of Pentecostalism. For them confessing to a priest is confessing to a fellow human being. They would rather confess to God directly. It is not the priest that forgives sin; it is God who forgives sins through the Church, which operates by means of the ministry of the priest (Jn 20:21-23); revealing the heart of the Father to men. The penitent cannot determine the heart of God towards him as far as his sin is concerned. Just as no one can treat or operate himself, the penitent cannot determine the heart of God towards him. Nemo iudes in causa sua (No one can be a judge in his own case). Through the ministry of the priest at the confessional the penitent is able to know the mind of God towards him.

For anyone who wishes to grow in holiness, prayer, meditation on the word of God, frequent confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist are means to attain holiness.
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IS THERE PURGATORY? AND IS IT BIBLICAL TO PRAY FOR THE DEAD?
» By Rev. Fr. Mario Agbeifo
Introduction

All Souls Day is a solemn feast in the Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now passing through Purgatory, atoning for their sins so that they might be cleansed and made fit for the kingdom of heaven. The importance of the feast was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (19 14-22), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one, for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. Only on a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.


On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. In one of his letter, Pope John Paul II writes that intercession for the dead is an expression of the fraternal charity of the one family of God (1). And while we pray for them, John Paul further writes that:

The assembled community presents' to the Father of all mercies those who have died, so that through the trial of purgatory they will be purified, if necessary, and attain eternal joy. In entrusting them to the Lord, we recognize our solidarity with them and share in their salvation in this wondrous mystery of the communion saints. The Church believes that the souls detained in purgatory 'are helped by the prayers of the faithful and most of all by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar' (Council of Trent, Decree on Purgatory), as well as by “alms and other works of piety” (Eugene 1V Bull Laetantur coeli,2,)

There are two indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery with the intention of praying for the dead. While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory.

Is There Purgatory?

Yes, there is purgatory. Briefly, the term purgatory, which comes from the English word purgation, is simply the name given to that intermediate state where the souls of the dead are purified, and assisted by the prayers of the living. The term may not be in the Bible (just like the word Trinity), but the facts of its real existence are very clear in the Bible. Let us no attempt to dig out these Biblical facts.

In describing heaven, the book of Revelations 21:25-27 says: Its gates will never he shut by day and there will be no night there... But nothing unclean will enter it. In contrast, however, the book of I John 5:16-17 says: If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him(i.e. for the sake of the one who asks) give Life to those who not commit sin leading to death. There is a sin leading to death ... All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death (NA S).

The Bible tells us that only two dwelling places will last forever: heaven for God, his angels and the righteous people and hell for Satan, his demons and evil people (Matthew 25: 3 1-46). An important question needing urgent attention is, suppose a person dies in the state of sin that does not lead to death, what happens to him? He cannot enter into heaven because Revelations 21:25-27 says that nothing unclean will enter it. In addition, I John 5: 16 says that he who sees his brother commit a non-mortal sin or in other words sin that does not lead to death (i.e. venial sin) shall ask and God will give such people life; meaning that by virtue of that sin such persons have no life of God in them and therefore cannot merit heaven otherwise there will be no need for God's intervention. At the same time, he cannot go to hell because I John 5:16-17 says that the sin does not lead to death (i.e. not mortal). So what is the fate of such a person? He cannot be left hanging in space for sure; because the only two dwelling places for the dead are heaven and hell. So what happens? I John 5:16 tells us what to do: He shall ask and God will for him [i.e. for the sake of the one who asks give life' to those who commit sin not leading to death.


The book of John 5:16-17 also opens our minds to the fact of the Catholic teaching on categories of sin: Venial (less serious sins,) and Mortal (deadly or grave sins,); which some Christians reject as a Christian doctrine. To buttress this fact of categories of sin. Luke 12:42- 48 has this to say:

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But lf that slave says to himself 'My master is delayed in coming, 'and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave, who knew what his master wanted but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating.

First of all, a fact in this story is that there are sins but a difference in degree and consequently a difference in punishment. Take a look at these categories from the passage above:

1. The slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted.

2. The slave who did not know and did what deserved a healing.

In this passage, it is evident that there is sin committed by two categories of people. So the two categories are guilty and have become unrighteous as a result of the sin (cf. I John 5:17). But what is their punishment like? While the first is given severe beating, the second is given light beating. If the degree of the sin were the same, the consequences sure will be the same as well. That the consequences are not the same even when both committed sin shows that there are degrees of sin: Mortal or deadly and Venial or non-deadly. Now read again I John 5:16-17 to understand this properly.

Similarly, we see another kind of categories in the story of Luke 12:42-48 which we shall present and analyze:

1. Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.
2. That slave, who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. This is that slave who says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; and the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful

3. That servant who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating.
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The National Conference: To Be Or Not To Be
» By Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo
Come to think of it, that a family intends to come together and discuss ways forward for the entire household, and the meeting brings in a sensation of fear and worry? This is the kind of sensation that the National Conference fondly known as “Confab” is putting forth in the minds of many Nigerians. It is true because people have the strong feeling that they are about to be tricked once again and that is why the questions will always come to mind; why should we have this kind of meeting? Will it have a fruitful end if we try to be optimistic or turn out to be something else? To put it in another way, is there any need to hold this so called family meeting if right from the onset there are doubts and reservations about it? As a matter of fact, one could go biblical that it is a meeting of a Kingdom divided against itself which definitely cannot stand (Lk.11:14-23ff).

It suffices to say therefore, that this could be at the moment the story of Nigeria calling for a National Conference. The National Conference as been presented is to bring together persons representing the different ethnic groups found in the country, stakeholders, youths e.t.c to sit together on a “round table” and discuss issues affecting the entire country, tracing it from the past to the present. There are abounding doubts and fears, as far as this National Conference is concerned. For when viewed properly, one could ask why these presupposed fears and lack of confidence in holding the conference, for these elements have been seen in different debates.

It is appropriate right from the onset to make it crystal clear that the Conference is not necessary if and only if good governance is put in place. Looking at the parameters on ground, the Nigerian government at different levels has not really done enough. Though, in some quarters, efforts have been made to attain giant strides but much is still left to be desired. This is why it is good to say “govern well first” and then see whether there will be any need to hold a National Conference. On the one hand, this conference could bring about significant change in the leadership of Nigeria. This is where I stand to be corrected that if the National Conference will be of great benefit to the general populace of Nigeria, then there is no need to wait let's get to business and make the meeting a reality but on the other hand this Conference can bring to fore the insinuations of Martins Odey and the like that many have likened the Nigeria state to ants hill which takes the ingenuity of ants colony to build, only to be destroyed after some times by vagaries. An American research outfit had in 2010 conducted a survey suggesting that the country stood a high risk of been dismembered come 2015. Will the conference make the said statement true or not? But then, reports show that the unfolding political situation in the country could have lent credence to this call. Both President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate President David Mark have agreed in principle to a possible conduct of the conference but insisted the discussion would not be allowed to break the country.

Gani Adams and Chief Frederick Fasheun, factional leaders of Odua People's Congress (OPC) have always jettisoned their differences to uphold the conduct of the conference. For Gani Adams, it could be a good song for us to sing, that is the right way to go. According to him, “I think the authority may consider it now that more ethnic groups are picking up arms to fight the state, and he continued that "Nobody has said that a sovereign national conference will be used to divide the country, but people must be assured why they should stay together." To put it differently, the National Conference has been discussed extensively for the past couple of days but how will it be if it fulfils the statement of the Arewa Consultative Forum that, the Conference will not end Nigerians persisting problems except the country stakeholders give a rethink to the country's political structure. This said point makes a connect to that of the Publicity Secretary of the forum Anthony Sani, that the Sovereign National Conference amounts to passing a vote of no confidence on our democracy as well as its institutions, which no group has the right to do. For him, I truthfully do not know how they hope to make sure that all ethnic groups will be represented, considering that there is no consensus on the number of ethnic groups let alone how they can be represented to the satisfaction of all.

In another perspective, Frederick Fasheun is of the view that the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the British Robert Lugard led administration which resulted in the country Nigeria was without consultation. Could this be the available time to fix the mistakes of the past or to create the ones that could be worse? Reports from the dailies such as “This Day” newspaper had shown that the President, Goodluck Jonathan is making efforts in keeping with that virtue of listening to the yearnings of the people of which one can believe that he moderated his position and view point on the issue of holding a National Conference. He had been opposed to it, arguing that a properly elected government, fitted with all requisite arms was in place and that any agitation from any group or ethnic nationality can or should be handled by those elected from among the people. But, examining the facts on ground, it has gone beyond the elected, who should be elected, when and how, so the issue calling for discussion at a national conference is focusing on the nature of Nigeria as a country. It is either to continue standing as a country or not, or to make a different arrangement whereby no sentiments whatsoever should be attached.

Sometime ago another antagonist of the National conference, David Mark, the Senate President, also threw his weight behind the need for a dialogue. For some persons, it was a surprising twist to the ancient argument they have always upheld. According to some persons, was Mark merely playing John the Baptist on the matter? With the President and the National legislature approving of it, there is now no more hurdles obstructing the holding of the conference. It is gathered that a conference was held in the 90s and from the look of things it yielded no results because if it had, there would not have been any reason for another one. That notwithstanding, this conference can follow the spirit found in the statement of Blessed Pope JohnPaul The Great, that there is more to what unites us than to what divides us. However, if the National Conference is to make Nigeria divide as a complex entity and unite in its different components, then what are we waiting for? The conference might come either sovereign, national or not but, it still calls for questions, doubts and fears. Good Governance can isolate any plan for a National Conference. When the National Conference comes and goes, what happens next?

Note: This space is open for contributors to bare their minds on issues affecting the Nation.
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God's Presence And Healing Experience (Pt. 2)
» By Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe
Last month, we examined how God's presence in our lives can help to take away hindrances and bring progress and also how it possesses forces that can help to bring fruitfulness into our lives.

While reflecting on the saying of a Christian mother who said to me few months ago. “Remember me in your daily masses father? “I want each of my day to be filled with God's presence”. This brings to mind that His presence cannot be achieved in isolation but in devotional relationships. For they that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). The grace of a fruitful living is found in devotional relationship with God. We cannot seek the face of God in any of the Christian devotional exercises without experiencing His us glorious power that brings deliverance and healing.

If the effort and time we spend together in our human relationship through smart phones, face book and twitter add so much beauty and joy to our lives, what a great beauty and joy that will fall on those who invest their time in relationship with God. No one involved in devotional exercise will not experience a glorious change. It is when we do not have religious devotion exercise and materials to fall back on when there are challenges in our lives that we can experience shame and failure. The Lord said to Moses, “why are you crying out for help? Tell the people to move forward. Lift up your stick and hold it out over the sea and the Israelites will be able to walk through the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14: 15-16). Those who have devotional relationship with God do not need to be down cast in any challenge before them. They are to raise up their spiritual mantle and strike it into the situation. It is through rising up of spiritual mantle like attending masses, praying the rosary, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, novena prayers, etc that God's presence brings freedom, healing and deliverance into our situations.

Devotional exercise enables us to experience comfort, strength, encouragement and physical healing in our lives. It is a process of being alone with God along side with sacred acts. If individuals and family can be alone with God along side with sacred acts daily, they are bound to experience the most precious joy, beauty healing / deliverance in their lives. God's presence that flow from being alone with Him through sacred acts, cannot be conquered by any human manipulation. In our relationship with God, we must learn to develop devotional attitude rather than living a worried life. Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, with a thankful heart. And Gods peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6- 7). The deliverance we need, is found in devotional actions of the church.

So, be calm and stay in the presence of God. A religious action is required in relaxing in His presence. It helps to plunge us into a full relaxation in his presence. This devotional involvement makes His us presence an object of reality in our lives. If we truly get involved in devotional acts, our prophetic utterances in our lives and family become efficacious like Elijah when he said to King Ahab, “No, go and eat, for the God I serve will send down rain in our land today, for I can hear the roar of rain approaching”. Famine in Samaria was at its worst, since the people could not experience rain fall for years. While Ahab went to eat, Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, where he bowed down to the ground, with his head between his knees. He said to his servant, “Go and look towards the sea”. The servant went and returned, saying, I did not see anything. Seven times in all, Elijah told him to go and look. On the seventh time he returned and said, I saw a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand, coming up from the sea. Elijah ordered his servant, “Go to king Ahab and tell him to get into his chariot and go back home before the rain stops him”. In a little while the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind began to blow, and heavy rain began to fall. Ahab got into his chariot and started back to Jezreel. The power of the lord came on Elijah; he fastened his clothes tight round his waist and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel (I King 18:41-42, 3, 43-46).

Without religious encounter, we may not experience His divine presence that brings a glorious change in our lives. God does not speak in isolation. He speaks His words, in devotional actions, through His ministers, as well as those who wait upon Him for amazing experience. This is the easiest way to experience His divine presence that brings fruitfulness. If there must be changes in our lives, we must constantly fix our senses on the sanctuary, Jesus is waiting for us for a glorious change through the churches, public and private worship. We must not fail to have a meeting point whereby we can experience His presence.

We cannot be fruitful if we are not connected to God who is the ontological foundation of our fruitfulness. He created us to keep intimacy with us. We may not experience the redemptive power of Jesus Christ even as believers if we do not develop a spiritual oneness with Him. God is spirit, and only by the power of his spirit can people worship him as he really is (John 4:24). We have to at-tune ourselves to devotional exercises, that help to reduce our human inclination, and there by spring up the Holy Spirit in us. When God removed Saul as the king of his people, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfill all my will (Acts 13:22). The grace we acquire through devotional exercises, attracts us to beautiful future. If we can continue in our devotional activities, God will choose us for a glorious living.

James 4:8 tells us to “draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”. When we constantly seek to live in the presence of God, His presence will attract His favour in our lives. We must be true worshippers of God, by surrendering our inner person to God. Worship goes beyond a physical prostrate of oneself in homage to God. It is an act of being alone with God daily. This makes our worship efficacious. We will rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express (1 Peter 1:8). Success flows from God's presence. The Divine presence is the driving force that draws success to God's people. The more we can be and remain in His presence, the more we will experience open doors of success in our lives.
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Be Proactive In Health Care Delivery Dunia Tell FG

The Chairman of the Health Committee of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Nigeria. (CBCN) and the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has called on the Federal Government to be more proactive in health care delivery service by partnering with other stakeholders in order to ensure improved health outcome for all Nigerians.

He stated this at a press conference recently at Abuja, on the state of the country's health sector and the role of the Catholic Church as a major provider of the important service for Nigerians, particularly in the rural areas where government services cannot be accessed by the masses.

Outlining areas where Government should take proactive steps to enhance health care delivery service in the country, Bishop Dunia stressed that “The National health bill and other similar initiatives of Government ought to recognize and respect the moral, religious and cultural values of the Nigerian people, while laws which negate the intrinsic rights and freedom of Nigerians to life and its protection from conception to Natural death should never be entertained under any guise”

The prelate who noted that the contribution of the Catholic Church to health care delivery in the country cannot be overemphasized and dates back to 1895, with the establishment of the sacred Heart Hospital, Lanatoro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, affirmed that “From the reverrine villages of Egbaland, the church medical mission has expanded and extended to other parts of Nigeria to waterside, Onitsha, Emekuku, Ihiala, Lokoja, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Ibandan and all over the country,'' adding that “As you can see, the Catholic health service pioneered formalized health care effort in Nigeria.''

The Bishop who also used the occasion to brief the media on the first National Catholic Health Summit to commemorate 120 years of caring for Nigerians by the Church in the country, noted that “the healthcare we provide is a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ our Redeemer made accessible to all Nigerians, irrespective of religions, tribe, social status or political affiliation,'' stressing that “more importantly, the church's health care is positioned to serve all citizens; the poor, the abandoned and persons with stigma conditions (lepers, people with HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnant girls etc).''

More, the CBCN Health Committee Chairman advocated a shift in paradigms in order to assure improved health services for all, while calling for constructive engagement by government with other non-state actors in the health sectors. He also noted the absence of policy framework which reckons with the substantial contributions by the Catholic health services, other faith based entities and non-governmental organizations to the country's health system.

In addition, the Local Ordinary of Auchi Diocese tasked the government to include National Family Planning education and services in the disbursement plan of the budget already allocated to family planning commodities and logistics, while charging the National Assembly “to enact a legislation to establish formal frameworks for providing budgetary allocations to non-state providers of health care delivery, especially those working in the rural areas and non profitable sphere.

Auchi Diocese Holds Marian Pilgrimage At Igarra

The annual Diocesan Marian Pilgrimage, has been held at the Marian Shrine, Igarra.

Delivering the homily at the closing Mass, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that the event coincided with the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, urged all faithful to always remember the deeds of the Lord, no matter the condition or the State of life they may be.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who tasked all present to shun any act that will make them to forget the marvelous work that God has done in their lives, reiterated that they should use all the institutions, occasions and organizations available to always remember to acknowledge the glory of God, stressing that Marian Pilgrimage to Igarra is always a reminder to the people to enable them appreciate God.

The Shepherd of Souls who affirmed that showing gratitude to God is a necessity, enjoined all to pray against the spirit of docility, adding that all the feasts observed in the Catholic Church are reminder to further boost the faith of all, noting that Sacramentals are not charms, hence, they should be used for prayers and to serve as a remembrance to all of the good and perfect deeds of the Lord, adding that Sacramentals is a sign of the power of God which cannot be seen with visible human eyes.

Further, the Prelate harped on the need for faithful to properly dispose themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the Mother of the Church, pointing out that the Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be honoured enough and tasked faithful to always pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin who is the Mother of Christ.

Also, the Shepherd of Souls who bemoaned the attitude of faithful who embark on unnecessary consultation from native doctors and traditionalists, cautioned that the devil can take advantage of their problems to destroy them, stressing that having a deep reflection of their faith and praying fervently to God the author of the universe, would enable them overcome their challenges.

Reiterating the need for all present to always cherish the order of Priesthood, Bishop Dunia noted that they are chosen by God to give the faithful more insight about the undeletable knowledge of God, while pointing out that anyone who is able to discover the sweetness of God can never forget the deeds of the Lord and prayed God to grant them the grace to always appreciate the deeds of the Lord.

Soliciting for the continuous development of the Marian Shine, the Prelate enjoined all present to support the growth and development of the Pilgrimage ground to make it befitting and appreciated all who have contributed to the growth and development of the Diocese.

Giving the vote of thanks, Rev. Sr. Angela Balogun who appreciated the Bishop for giving faithful in the Diocese and beyond opportunity to be part of the 2013 celebration, thanked the Priests, Religious and lay faithful present for attending the event.

Highpoints of the celebration were paper presentation on various issues by Priests, Penitential service, Benediction, procession round the major streets of Igarra, thanksgiving procession by Deaneries among others

Cathedral Holds 2013 Adult Harvest Thanksgiving

It was another Joyful time of appreciation and thanksgiving to God for His abundant blessing, as the Priests, religious and lay faithful of Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi marked their 2013 Adult Harvest thanksgiving/Bazaar

Delivering the homily at the Eucharistic Celebration, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. (Dr) Gabriel G. Dunia, noted that Christians should be joyful no matter the situation they might find themselves, as Christ has wiped away their sorrows. He congratulated all present for another fruitful year, Stressing that it is the will of God for them to be alive, hence they should rejoice and give thanks to God who is the owner of their lives.

Continuing, the Shepherd of souls who hinted that giving thanks to God is necessary, affirmed that there are two ways of doing it, which includes surrendering to God in prayers and appreciating God with their physical and material possessions, stressing that no one can succeed in life without the hand of God in his /her life.

Re-affirming the need for all to continue to assist one another in realizing their set goals in life, the Bishop pointed out that no matter how one is endowed with talents, beauty and material things, they need one another to succeed, adding that remaining dormant by not relating with one another will not speak well of such persons and urged them to learn to appreciate one another, as they are special gifts to each other.

Further, the prelate who reiterated the need for all faithful to continue to persevere in prayer and depend absolutely on God no matter their situation, enjoined all present to eschew envy and jealousy of their neighbor who have more than them, adding that everybody cannot be the same, but rather, they should endeavour to change their bad attitude to good.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese noted that ingratitude to God is an act of disrespect to the love of God for mankind, enjoined all present not to forget God's love in their lives, as it was through His love for mankind that he sent His son Jesus Christ to redeem them and prayed God to give them the grace to always appreciate one another instead of condemning one another, while appreciating all present for attending the harvest thanksgiving.

Appreciating all present for attending the celebration, the Cathedral Administrator Rev. Fr Valentine Anaweokhai who noted that the harvest thanksgiving is geared towards the church building project as the Bishop has mandated that the church should be reconstructed, urged all present to be part of building for the lord, adding that with the co-operation of all, the project will become fruition.

Commending the efforts of all who contributed to the growth and development of the parish which is the seat of the Bishop, Fr. Anaweokhai urged all to support what is on ground to make the project a reality.

On his part, then Chairman of the 2013 harvest who is the special Adviser to Delta State Governor on labour and Industrial matters Comrade Mike A. Okeme, expressed joy for being honoured to the chair of the Celebration, pledged his continuous support towards the growth and development of the Cathedral and appreciated all present for attending the harvest thanksgiving, while soliciting the support of all to make the building project realizable.

Some of the dignitaries present at the celebration were Hon. Emmanuel Momoh, Chairman Etsako Central, LGA, Chief I.A. Imokhai, the Chief of Afowa Community among others.
Highpoint of the Celebration was thanksgiving procession to the altar by groups, Individuals, Priests and all present, while the bazaar was later held at the church premises shortly after mass.

Elele Gets New Laity Executive

The Catholic Community of St. Dominic Catholic Church, Elele has put in place a new laity executive Council to run their affairs in the next three years.

Addressing all present after the election, the newly elected Chairman Mr. Michael Omolue who on behalf of other members of the executive commended all present for the successful election, expressed their determination to continue to work towards the growth and development of the Parish and the Diocese in general, while soliciting the co-operation of all to enable them succeed in their assignment.

The keenly contested election, had the following person elected into the new executive; Mr. Michael Omolue; Chairman, Mr. John Balogun; Vice Chairman, Daudu B.B. Aleobua; Secretary, Thaddeus Augustine; Assistant Secretary and Mrs. Ruth Aduku, Financial Secretary.
Other members Mr. Pius E. B. Otsemobor; Treasurer, Mr. Philip Abu; Public Relations Officer, Madam Theresa Esivue; Provost and Mr. Romeo Idanwekhai who emerged as the assistant provost. Meanwhile, the new executive has since been inaugurated by the Assistant Parish administrator, Rev. Fr.Thomas Anavhe

Deanery Three Holds Seminar on Year of Faith at Jattu

In line with the activities to mark the year of faith in Deanery three, Catholic Diocese of Auchi, the Deanery has recently held a seminar for Priests, religious and lay faithful.

Delivering a lecture titled “Rediscovering our Catholic identity in the light of the year of Faith” the resource person Rev. Fr. Martins Alokwe who harped on the need for faithful to re-assess themselves of their Catholic Faith, stressed that they should be bold to exercise their faith in Christ.

Reaffirming the need for Catholics to take their Faith seriously instead of jumping from one Church to another, Fr. Alokwe urged them to endeavour to bear witness to the undiluted faith of Christ, who is the source of salvation.

Continuing, Fr. Alokwe pointed out that the year of Faith is a time in the life of the Church for all Catholics to live out their faith to the fullness and publicly declare their Faith before all and sundry, stressing that faith is something that should be spread to other.

The resource person hinted that Faith is not an automatic thing, but a gradual expectation of what God has promised without doubting, asserting that Faith is not about hoping and trusting in God for miracles alone, but it encompasses suffering and enduring in Christ. He stressed that Faith is synonymous to the cross, pointing out that if any Christian is not convinced of his/her Faith, such a person lives in utter confusion.

Emphasizing on the need for faithful to be obedient and live out their faith, Fr. Alokwe noted that the Virgin Mary accepted all the Angel told her without doubting which was a true demonstration of Faith, as that makes her to become the Mother of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world and frowned at the attitude of faithful who runs from one Church to another in pursuit of miracles, describing their attitude as a show of lack of Faith.

Highlighting some activities that will help Catholics to rediscover their Faith, Fr. Alokwe pointed out that studying the Holy Bible, receiving the Sacrament worthily, attending Masses always among others, is vital in helping them to rediscover their Faith, while urging Catholics to endeavour to take their Catholic Faith seriously, as it will enable them build their trust in God and prayed God to give them the grace to grow in Faith always.

In his remarks, the Dean of the Deanery Very Rev. Fr. Mark Akhibi, appreciated the guest lecturer for the lecture, urged faithful to deepen their Catholic Faith re-examine their life style and ignore those activities contrary to the doctrines of the Church and praised all who attended the Seminar, while thanking the organizing committee for making the Seminar possible.

The event also featured an interactive session on issues of Faith and better ways of rediscovering their Catholic Faith.

Cathedral Witness All Night of Prayers
… As Fr. Omachi Stresses On The Importance Of The Cross

It was a night of Prayers, Praises, Worship and Eucharist celebration as Parishioners of Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi held their all night.

Delivering a talk titled “through The Cross you shall conquer” Rev. Fr. Michael Omach, a Priest from Kaduna Archdiocese, noted that true wisdom is from the Cross, and that there are no crown bearer in Heaven without having been a Cross bearer on earth. He adding that Jesus Christ made a public show at the Cross as death was disgraced through the Cross and Salvation was brought to all

Continuing, Fr. Omachi hinted that sin was conquered through the Cross therefore, Catholics should be proud to identify with the Cross through which Salvation was brought into the world, as through the Cross, all faithful were justified, adding that as members of the body of Christ, the Cross would continue to serve as an object of victory and Salvation, hence a day was set aside in the Catholic Church for the Exaltation of the Cross.

Fr. Omachi affirmed that the Cross is one of the most popular instrument for Christianity especially among Catholics, noting that wherever the Cross is present victory is sure and highlighted some instances where the Cross has rescued people from the hands of the evil ones and enjoined all not to shy away, but to identify with the Cross of Christ which is a symbol of Christianity.

Speaking on the need for all to always pray for their families and nation, Fr. Omachi noted that the family has a powerful role to play in ensuring peace and development in a nation, pointing out that if a family is in trouble, the nation will be in trouble and urged all present to endeavour to always pray for their families.

Commending all present for attending the all night prayers, the Cathedral Administrator Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai noted that the event is to re-awaken the spiritual life of the faithful as the year comes to an end. He applauded the effort of the invited Priest Rev. Fr. Michael Omachi of Kaduna Archdiocese for attending the prayers and urged faithful to always take part in such programmes holding in the Parish to enrich their spiritual well being and prayed God to bless them.

Other Priests at the prayers were both Assistants Cathedral Administrators Rev. Frs. Isaac Agabi, Kingsley Okodugha and Gregory Onimhawo.

The event also featured candle light procession round the Church premises, exposition of the Blessed Eucharist among others.

Rev. Sr. Ayunokhame Marks Silver Jubilee At Fugar

It was a moment of celebration in the Catholic Community of St. Theresa Parish at Fugar, as Rev. Sr. Christiana Beauty Ayunokhamhe Sidi marked her Silver Jubilee.

In a homily delivered by his lordship, most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who appreciated God in the life of the celebrant, noted that as Christians, they are signs of Faith, hence they should be steadfast in their Christian Faith which should not be shaken by anything.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who advised all present to always preserve even in the face of difficulties, noted that those who do not understand the Cross of Christ fully will always doubt and urged all present to remain unshakable, and should not be distracted in prayers.
Referring to St. Veronica who died as an icon for Jesus, the Prelate noted that she was consumed with love of Jesus which she saw beyond the ordinary eyes, as she was courageous inspite of all the soldiers did to her, she wiped the face of Jesus, adding that if their love for Christ is so strong, no force on earth can overpower them. He affirmed that there are a lot of challenges when people embrace consecrated life, as they may face humiliation, injuries, pains and other obstacles hence they should not be deterred, as the way of God is not the way of man and they must reverence God with fear and trembling.

Further, the Bishop reiterated that as Christians, the journey may not be smooth but it should not spur them to embrace evil but should rather, run to God who is the owner of their lives.

Highpoint of the Mass was the thanksgiving procession led by the celebrant accompanied by Parishioners, friends and well wishers.

Speaking at the reception held at the Church premises, the Chairman of the occasion Engr. John Ogwanghie thanked God for the gift of Priesthood and the Religious, congratulated the celebrant on her twenty five years anniversary and urged youths to embrace the gift of Priestly and Religious life, as there are blessing embedded in it.

Commending all present for attending the ceremony, the celebrant Rev. Sr. Christiana Ayunokhamhe who praised the Bishop for coming to celebrate with her, thanked the Parish administrator Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Ogbenika and his Assistant Rev. Fr. Simon Osikwemhe and all present for celebrating with her and prayed God to bless them.

Highpoints of the celebration were presentation of the Parish CWO Agbi dance, chorography, songs rendition, presentation of gift items to the celebrant among others.

Some of the dignitaries present were Sir/Lady Gilbah, Chief Jossy Alemoh, Mr. Nelson Abu, Mr. and Mrs. Godwin Sidi among others

Marriage Covenant Is For Life Time - Fr. Anaweokhai

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai, has reiterated that marriage covenant is for a life time, stressing that any couple going into it, must be ready to be committed for better or worse, good or bad.

This was contained in his homily during the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony between Frances Egele and Joseph Omogie at Immaculate Conception Cathedral Catholic Church Auchi.

Fr. Anaweokhai who noted that in marriage it is only death that can break the covenant, pointed out that a couple must be open to each other, live in peace and serve as each other's companion.

The homilist congratulated the couple as they begin their marital life, noting that marriage is more than an achievement, hence the couple must understand themselves and be able to read their moods to know when one is happy or not.

Continuing, Fr. Anaweokhai charged them not to allow outsiders to penetrate into their marital affair, especially on issues that will affect their family life and urged their parents to encourage them and to try as much as possible not to dictate for them, rather, correct them positively.
Advising them on their various roles as they begin a new family, Fr. Anaweokhai stressed that they should be able to take care of their children and desist from gossip as it will affect their marriage and tasked them to call on God in any situation they find themselves, while praying that as they have come to the altar of God to declare their consent before the Church, God will help them to build their marriage.
Highpoint of the celebration were exchange of marital vows, signing of marriage register, presentation of CWO wrapper to the bride and thanksgiving procession to the altar by the couple accompanied by their families, friends and well wishers.

Knights of St. John Holds Quarterly Retreat at Fugar

It was a moment of reflection for Sirs and ladies of knight of St. Michael Commandry 719, as they marked their quarterly retreat and recollections at St.Anthony Catholic church, Fugar an Outstation of St.Theresa Parish Fugar.

Delivering a talk on the types, effects and remedies for sin, Rev.Fr. Innocent Okhifo who noted that sin is an act against the land or commandment of God and humanity stressed that sin will make one to be far from God's relationship and blessings, adding that as Christians, they cannot succeed in life without God's relationship.

Fr. Okhifo who pointed out that sin could be original or actual, hinted that sin can be sub-divided into parts which include, venial and mortal sins, as venial sins cannot kill the soul but posse as a treat to the soul, hence it affects one spiritually, while stressing that mortal sin is very dangerous and could lead to death and urged all present to eshewe any act that will lead them to sin.

Speaking on better ways for them to avoid committing sin, Fr. Okhifo enjoined them to embrace repentance by embarking on regular confession and rededicate their lives to God in sincerity, as it would attract more blessings to them and prayed God to give them the grace to always avoid sin.

Giving the vote of thanks, the worthy president of the Commandry, Bro. Peter Apekhumhe who appreciated the Priest for his intellectual and spiritual impact on them as they journey in life, prayed God to continue to enrich him, while urging members to utilize knowledge gained to enrich their spiritual wellbeing.

JDPC Organise Sensitization Program On Roll Back Malaria

As part of measures to reduce the effect of malaria in Etsako, land, the Justice, Development and peace commission (JDPC), Catholic Diocese of Auchi in collaboration with Association of civil society organization in malaria control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN), has recently embarked on a sensitization programme in some secondary schools at Etsako East and Etsako Central Local Government Areas of Edo State.

Speaking on the purpose of the programme, the programme manager JDPC Auchi, Mr. Augustine Ezebuihe, who noted that the programme is been held under the sponsorship of Global Fund, harped on the need for the students, parents and all to keep their environment clean and ensure that they sleep in the Long Lasting insecticide Net (LLIN), as it will help them in preventing malaria infection usually caused by plasmodium resulting from mosquito bites.

Continuing Mr. Ezebuihe hinted that headache, hotness of the body and vomiting by children are some of the immediate signs of malaria and stressed that parents should endeavor to visit community health centres for Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) to ascertain if they are having the symptom of malaria and enjoined them to make use of Atimiciline Combination Therapy (ACT), as it will effectively combat malaria.

Appreciating JDPC for the sensitization programme, the principal Iviukwe Grammar School, Mr. G.E Inopomho, pointed out that the programme is timely, urged the children to utilize the knowledge gained to enrich themselves and their families and enjoined also the student to also endeavor to sensitize nursing and expectant mothers in their community.

Among the schools visited were Fugar Mixed Secondary School, Sacred Heart College, Agenebode, Ogbona Grammar School, Iviukwe Grammar School and Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary, Ivianokpodi.

Highpoint of the event was a drama presentation by JDPC drama group.

Rev. Fr. Saiki Thanks God at Igarra

The entire Catholic Community of St. John the Apostle Parish, recently gathered together to celebrate with the newly ordained Rev. Fr. Ignatius Saiki who is of the order of Dominican

Delivering the homily at the mass, Rev. Fr. Collins Akhigbe, a Dominican Priest from the Archdiocese of Lagos, thanked God for his goodness, mercy, and favour in the life of the newly ordained priest being celebrated, as he has gone through the narrow and tough way to get to his present stage. He noted that God gave the church the gift of priesthood to proclaim the Good news of Christ for the salvation of the people and sanctification, to prepare them for their heavenly home and to lead them the right way.

The homilist noted that since God has given faithful all that they need, Catholics should always be grateful to God for the gift of priesthood, advising Parishioners to always listen to their Priests and not behave as if they are greater than the Priests and warned them never to gossip or say anything that is unpleasant about their Priests, but rather, pray for them.

Further, Fr. Akhigbe advised the newly ordained priest that his call to service is not because of his goodness, but a privilege and that he should be prayerful and avoid occasions of sin and read the scripture daily.

Also at the reception organized by the parishioners of St. John the apostle in honour of the newly ordained Priest, the chairman of the occasion, Chief Hon. A.A Amune, congratulated the chief celebrant for his courage and endurance throughout his formation as a priest. He also thanked God for giving the church another indigenous priest unlike in the past when the Irish priests dominated the priesthood and also appreciated the family for giving their son to serve the Lord.

Highpoints of the mass were thanksgiving procession by the newly ordained priest accompanied by his family and well wishers. Also, a traditional dance by Ikede entertained guests present.

Diocesan CWO Holds Year of Faith Seminar

As part of activities to mark the year of Faith, the Catholic Woman Organization (CWO), Auchi Diocese, has recently held a Seminar at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi.

Giving his remarks at the event, the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, urged the woman to shun materialism and emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the Mother of the Church and should be ready to feed as many that are entrusted to their care. He frowned at the attitude of faithful who develop the habit of moving from one Church to another instead of having Faith in God.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese enjoined all present to always show interest in one another by assisting one another in whatever way, stressing that giving alms to other people would attract more blessing for them and wished them a fruitful Seminar.

Delivering the homily earlier in a Mass preceding the event, Rev. Fr. Chrosogonus Okolie who welcomed all the programme, noted that Faith is very important in the life of a Catholic, as Faith is the supernatural gift from God which enables one to believe without doubting what God has revealed. He stressed that women should be closer to their Children and inculcate in them the doctrines of the Church to enable them grow in Faith.

Continuing, Fr. Okolie urged the women to continue to be faithful to God and show their Faith through their actions and characters, noting that Faith will enable them to be closer to God and prayed God to give them the gift of Faith.

In a talk titled “The Catholic Woman and her Faith in God”, Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe noted that women are special gifts from God as they are spiritually endowed, hinted that the role of women in the Church cannot be overemphasized and urged them to shun any act capable of bringing them to disrepute.

Further, Fr. Ikhianosimhe who harped on the need for mothers to always emulate the exemplary qualities set by Blessed Virgin Mary, pointed out that Mother Mary was prudent, humble, faithful, prayerful, obedient, simple, chaste, merciful/compassionate and was willing to bear burden, as those qualities and more made her to stand out as the mother of the Church.

In her talk titled” The Catholic Woman and her contemporary challenges in the family life” delivered by Mrs. Elizabeth Enakhimion, the resource person enjoined all women to always submit to their husbands in all that they do, as it will enable them raise a better and God fearing family and urged women to desist from the habit of running their husbands down in the presence of their children, as it will impart negatively on the children.

More, Mrs. Enakhimion who noted that Women are very important in the life of the Church, stressed that as Mothers, Women should continue to contribute to the growth and development of the Church and enjoined Women present to continue to play their roles both in their families and in the Church effectively, adding that there is always abundant blessings awaiting hardworking people.

In her vote of thanks, the Diocesan CWO President Mrs. C. Iredia, appreciated the Bishop for attending the Seminar, lauded the effort of the resource persons for their talks, describing it as enriching and informative, as it would impact on them positively, while thanking the Priests present as well as the Women for attending the Seminar.

The event also featured an interactive session and presentation of report activities of the year of Faith held in Abuja.

St. Vincent De Paul Society Marks Feast Day With The Aged At Agenebode
... Honour four Priests

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Auchi Central Council, has recently marked their Feast day at the Eucharistic family old people's home at Agenebode.

In his remarks at the event, the Diocesan Chaplain of the Society, Rev. Fr, Ignatius Omunagbe who appreciated the Council executive and their members for coming to celebrate the Feast day with the Aged and the Orphans, urged members to keep the activities of the group growing, adding that a lot of blessing awaits those who are involved in the work of Charity.

Earlier in her welcome address, the President, Auchi Central Council of the Society, Lady G.O Bienonwu who noted that the Vincentian Community was initially made up of Priest, before the Daughters of Charity was founded in 1633, pointed out that the involvement of the laity only came when St. Vincent started involving lay faithful in his project of organizing relief.

Continuing, Lady Bienonwu asserted that the support of the clergy in the work of the Society cannot be overemphasized, stressing that she was delighted to know that some Priests still share in the vision of St. Vincent De Paul and of Christ who has come to preach the good news to the poor. She urged more Priests of the Diocese to endeavour to identify with the Society in the service of the poor.

Further, Lady Bienonwu who acknowledged that through the support of the people, the Society was able to donate relief materials worth over One Hundred Thousand Naira to flood victims at Ugbekpe-Ekperi in 2012, hinted that in 2013, the Society has donated gift items to Itsoghena Orphanage Sabo-Iyakpi and home for the mentally sick at Iyamo.

Lady Bienonwu appreciated the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia for his encouragement and support towards the growth and development of the Society, while soliciting the support from all to enable the Society impart more on those in need in the Diocese.

Giving the vote of thanks, the Secretary of the Society, Sir P.A. Imanogor, commended the Diocesan Chaplain of the Society, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, Priests present, the Rector of Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi Dr. (Mrs.) P.O Idogho, the Sisters in charge of the Eucharistic Family for hosting them and thanked the Aged and the Orphans for celebrating with them.

Some of the dignitaries present at the event were Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia who represented Cathedral Administrator Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai, Dr. Patrick Amune, Dr. P.O Idogho, Rector Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi among others.

Highlights of the event were drama presentation by youth of the Society titled Vincenticians and the poor, presentation of dance, distribution of gift items to both Aged and the Orphans.

In another development, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Auchi Central Council, has hononred four Priests of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi for their untiring service to the poor through the Society.

Speaking on the reason for the award, the President of the Society, Lady G. O Bienonwu, who noted that the award was to appreciate the Priests for their excellent services to the poor, prayed God to continue to endow them with a generous heart and fervent Spirit to enable them continue the service of humanity, while urging other Priests in the Diocese not to relent in impacting positively on the poor around them, especially by encouraging the Society in their Parishes and Mass Centres or establish one where it is not-in existence.

The Priests honoured were the Vicar General of Auchi Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey, Very Rev. Fr. Charles Nasamu. The Parish Priest of St. Jude Afuze, Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai, Parish Administrator, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi and Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, the Diocesan Chaplain of the Society.

Auchi Diocese Holds One Month In Mind For Fr. Ayala

The Catholic Diocese of Auchi, has recently held a one month in mind Mass for Rev. Fr Peter Ayala who died on the 25th of August, 2013.

Delivering the homily at the Mass, Rev.Fr. Gregory Ogbenika noted that Fr. Ayala was a brother and a Priest who left this world to be with the Lord in Heaven, Stressing that there is no doubt that Fr. Ayala is in heaven and tasked all to continue to pray for his souls and the soul of all faithful departed.

Continuing, Fr. Ogbenika stressed that he was a devoted man of God who sacrificed his time and all for the progress of the work of God and never relented in serving the Lord. He called on all to always remember Fr. Ayala's simple life style, inestimable virtues and the sacrifices he made while on earth, enjoining all present to encourage one another in the Lord and to always treat everyone equally as commended by God.

Fr. Ogbenika tasked faithful to work co-operatively for the growth of the Diocese, Stressing that it is time for them to take the issue of welfare in the diocese seriously, as caring for one another, visitation, and show of love is necessary as Jesus Christ did when he was on earth.

In his remarks, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G Dunia who appreciated all present and commended them for sacrificing their time to attend the mass, stressed that there is Heaven and there is hell, adding that the reality of all will be made known to them on the last day.

The Bishop noted that Heaven is not as place anyone can easily drive or walk to, but attaining Heaven means doing the will of God and avoiding sin, adding that they should always encourage each other and respect the priesthood and pray for it.

Further, the Prelate urged all to always pray because as Heaven is real so is hell, pointing out that hell is a place of torment and frustration, which no one should wish to be, while urging faithful to do their best to go to Heaven.

THE PROMISE Sends Forth Fr. Anetekhai

It was a convivial atmosphere for the Management, Staff, Correspondents and friends of THE PROMISE Newspaper, as they sent forth the Editor-in-Chief of the Newspaper and the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai as he travels abroad for further studies.

Welcoming all present to the occasion which took place at THE PROMISE office, former Fr. Grace Nursery/Primary School building, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi, the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of the paper Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo, who noted that the event was to celebrate the inestimable contribution of Fr. Anetekhai to the growth and development of the Directorate of Social Communications and THE PROMISE Newspaper in particular, and commended his effort in setting a standard for the organization.

Continuing, Fr. Onimhawo who promised to continue to emulate the exemplary qualities set by Fr. Anetekhai, noted that with the co-operation of the Management, Staff and Correspondents as well as the Laity, the paper will succeed and urged the celebrant to continue to keep contact with the paper and wished him a fruitful trip as he journeys abroad for further studies.

Extolling the qualities of the Editor-in-Chief, the Diocesan Laity Chairman, Sir George Umoru who described Fr. Anetekhai as a humble, simple and dedicated man of God, noted that he has for a long time admired the personality of the Director and urged the Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo to continue to build on the standards set by Fr. Anetekhai and prayed God to grant him the best in his studies.

In their separate speeches, Mr. Kelvin Agboh, Dr. Ugiomoh Charity and Mr. Edwin Oyateleme praised the Bishop for giving Fr. Anetekhai the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the paper.

Continuing, the trio described Fr. Anetekhai as a family friend who is very understanding, humble and hardworking and enjoined Fr. Onimhawo to emulate his exemplary qualities to enable the paper sustain its temple and urged the Staff, Correspondents and others to continue to co-operate with his successor to enable him succeed.

On her part, the President, Catholic Nurses Guild of Nigeria, Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Lady Lucy Oganyanson who noted that Fr. Anetekhai was also the Chaplain of the organization, appreciated him for his commitment to the activities of the group and prayed God to grant him joyful studies abroad.

In his response, Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai, appreciated God for giving him success in the running of the paper, applauded the effort of the Management, Staff, Correspondents, friends and well wishers for their contribution towards the growth of the paper and expressed his determination to continue to support the growth of the paper.

Further, Fr. Anetekhai who tasked the Assistant Editor-in-Chief to continue to work co-operatively towards the growth and development of the paper, hinted that journalism is not a tea party, hence all hands must be on deck to make it realizable and commended the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia for giving him the opportunity to serve and appreciated all who came to celebrate with him and prayed God to bless them.

Giving the closing remarks, the Editor of THE PROMISE Newspaper, Mrs. Chioma Agboh, commended Fr. Anetekhai for his foresight towards the growth of the paper and as the Diocesan Director of Social Communications. She prayed God to bless him as he travels for further studies, while appreciating the Diocesan Laity Chairman Sir. George Umoru, THE PROMISE Newspaper Correspondents, friend and well wishers for attending the celebration.

Highpoint of the event was presentation of gift items by the Management of THE PROMISE Newspaper, friends, individuals, groups, to the celebrant.

Auchi Diocesan Lay Readers Elect New Executive

Members of the Lay readers Association of Auchi, have recently elected a new executive to run the affairs of the Association for the next three years at Igarra.

Speaking shortly after the election, the chaplain of the association, Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe, thanked God for the newly elected executive and the outgoing executive, and enjoined members to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them and lead them in every way.

Continuing, Fr. Ikhianosime advised them to work selflessly and give proper attention to activities that will improve their spiritual life, stressing that only those who are ready to work selflessly should accept positions they have been voted into.

Earlier in his welcome address, the outgoing president General of the association, Mr. S.A Apologun, appreciated God who has given the outgoing executive the strength to work in his vineyard and thanked the chaplain for his wisdom and intelligence in helping to transform the association. He also thanked all for their support towards the growth and development of the group throughout their tenure.

More, Mr. Apologun stressed that some of their challenges which he would want the new executives to tackle includes, opening of a bank account for the association, reawaking of weak and dormant parishes and mass centers, and to also ensure that the association are patrons and patroness committed to the group as well as provide aid to the association. While affirming that election into the positions of the group is a spiritual affairs, he appealed that whoever is elected should endeavor to carry out his/her responsibilities whole hartedly.

The following members were elected into various offices, Mr. Bernard Eshiemokhai ; president, Mr. Donatus Arewah ; Vice president, Mr. Samuel Gadimoh ; Secretary General , Elizabeth Iria, assistant secretary, Abel Matthew ; PRO, Mrs. Augustina Okoye ; welfare social secretary in Auchi Diocese.

In his acceptance speech, the newly elected president, Mr. Bernard Eshiomokhai thanked God for the successful election, commended all the members present for their peaceful and orderly conduct during the election and promised that the new executive will give their best to the growth of the association.

Ozalla Gets New C.Y.O.N Executive

The new elected C.Y.O.N executive of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Ozalla has been inaugurated recently by the rector of the Church, commissioning them to pilot the affairs of the organization for the next three years.

Addressing the members of C.Y.O.N during the Inauguration, the Rector of the Mass centre very Rev. Fr. (Prof) J.A. Onimhawo, congratulated the executive and charged them to embrace peace and unity among themselves to enable them actualize their set goals for the physical and spiritual development of the organization and the universal church.

In his inaugural speech, the newly elected President Mr. Attashie Patrick, on behalf of the executive, thanked God for the gift of leadership and commended members for the opportunity given them to serve.

Continuing, Mr. Patrick Attashie pledged their commitment to work to the glory of God and the benefit of C.Y.O.N, noting that with God, they would be able to meet the expectations of all, while calling on members to co-operate with the executive to enable them achieve their desired goals.

The following members were elected as members of the executive team Mr. Attashie Patrick(President), Miss. Egbe Precious (Vice President), Miss. Agaga Benedicta (Secretary), Mr. Imoikor Francis (Assistant Secretary), Mr. Akapta Aletor (Financial Secretary), Mr. Akapta Joseph (Treasurer), Mr. Egbe Timeyin (PRO/Provost) and Mr. Agaga Paul (Welfare/Socials).

Diocesan Legionaries Hold Project At Ekperi

The Catholic Diocese of Auchi Legion of Mary (Rosa Mystical Committium), has recently held their nine day project at SS. Peter and Paul, Azukhala| Ugbekpe, Ekperi.

Delivering a talk titled “Retreat and its importance to Legionaries,” Rev. Fr. Isaac Oshomah who noted that the importance of a retreat in enriching human knowledge cannot be overemphasized, stressed that retreat is to enable a group re-examine and educate themselves on issues that is of great prominence in their lives.

Continuing, Fr. Oshomah who lauded the legionaries for their turnout at the event, advised that legionaries should utilize the knowledge gained from the programme to impact on others positively, affirming that retreat is an event that is very necessary in every group or organization, to get members acquainted with recent events in the church and the society.

Appreciating all present for attending the event, the diocesan chaplain of the group Rev. Fr. Amos Paul who charged members to take advantage of the programme to enhance their spiritual wellbeing. He tasked all present to always remain prayerful, adding that the project of evangelization was not an easy task, while urging them to take such project seriously, as it will enable them impact positively on others.

Highpoints of the celebration included visitation by members to various communities in Ekperi clan, quiz competition, cultural dances, drama, presentation, candle light procession round major streets in Azukhala|Ugbekpe, Ekperi among others.

Desist From Expensive Funeral Fr. Ikhianosimhe Tells Faithful

The Parish Administrator St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Ogbona, Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhanosimhe, has reiterated the need for faithful to desist from luxurious funeral ceremony, stressing that it is a waste of money and urged parents to stress on the need for them to be promptly buried when they pass on.

This was contained in his homily at St. John the Baptist, Ogbona, during the funeral Mass of Mrs. Eleta Martha who died on the 12th of October, 2013 at the age of 96years.

Fr. Ikhianosimhe who noted that life is a gift from God which can be taken by Him, hinted that God has the calendar for each and every one of His creature. He stressed that though the death of a loved one would always produce pains, but one should not lose focus in God, who is the owner of their lives.

Continuing, the homilist commiserated with the family of the deceased, pointing out that death is an opportunity for humans to return to God, as life is like a market place where trading is done and at the end, returns to their final destination. He further urged all present to live a quality and exemplary life worthy of emulation, while praying God to receive the soul of the deceased into His bosom.

Appreciating all present on behalf of the family for attending the funeral Mass, Chief Eleta who praised the Parish Administrator for his prayers, support and understanding throughout the preparation for the funeral Mass, described his mother as a devout, caring, God fearing and the best mum on earth, He then stressed her inestimable qualities of humility and simplicity will be sorely missed by the family and prayed to God to grant her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed eternal rest.

The final commendation rite was done by Rev. Fr. Francis, Ikhianosimhe, while the body of the deceased was later interred at her family compound at Ogbona.

Afowa Celebrates New Yam Festival

The 2013 annual new yam festival in Afowa community popularly called Esi festival, took another dimension, as the Ceremony was celebrated amidst Church activities at Holy Rosary Catholic church, Afashio/Afowa, Uzairue.

Delivering the homily at the Eucharistic Celebration, Rev. Fr (Prof.) John Onimhawo who noted that the best way of Celebrating the festival was by presenting them to God instead of making unnecessary sacrifices to idols, stressed that God is the owner of their lives, as such, they should learn to always appreciate him at all times, adding that He is the provider of all they have, hence, his work is wonderful which should be appreciated in thanksgiving.

Continuing, Fr. Onimhawo who appreciated God for the bumper harvest, congratulated the faithful for celebrating the festival in a Christian way, affirming that God will never fail anyone who trust and appreciate His work. He further urged all present to continue to have faith in God who is the source of what they have and enjoined all present to continue to sustain the celebration in a Christian manner.

In his remarks, the village chief of Afowa Community, Chief I.A Imokhai who noted that the festival has witnessed a new dimension, appreciated all present for attending the celebration, while assuring them of a better organized festival in the upcoming year and tasked the sons and daughters of Afowa community both at home and diasporal to always identify with the celebration.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by all present. Other Priests present were Rev. Frs. Mark Akhibi (the Parish Priest of Holy Rosary Parish, Afashio /Afowa, Uzairue), Gregory Onimhawo, Innocent Elogie, Aloysuious Oregbemhe, Godwin Itakpe and Very Rev. Fr Richard Enegbuma.

Deanery Three Holds CMO Election At Uzairue

The Catholic Men Organization (CMO), Deanery three, has recently had their election at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Afashio/Afowa, Uzairue.

Speaking shortly after the election, the newly elected President, Sir Patrick odiodio, who expressed the organization's determination to continue to work towards the growth and the development of the deanery and the Diocese, solicited for the co-operation of the Priests and lay faithful of the deanery to enable them realize their set goals and also commended all present for giving them the opportunity to serve, while promising to always uphold the objectives of the organization.

After the keenly contested election, the following members were elected, Sir Patrick Odiodio; President, Mr. P.A Umoru; 1st Vice President, Mr. R.I. Ekhaisomi; and 2nd Vice President, Sir John Omozegbai; General Secretary and Mr. William Ekiveozo; Assistant Secretary. Other members of the executive were Mr. Inope O. Roland; Financial Secretary Mr. Abu Patrick, Treasurer, Mr. Mike Itakpe, Publicity Secretary and Mr. Oriaran O. Cyril, was elected as provost.
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