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Christmas: A Time For Giving
Christmas which means Christ's Mass, is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and is widely observed by millions of Christians round the world on the 25th of December.

The celebration offers an opportunity for all Christians to give and share with those around them. This act of giving was first demonstrated by the three wise men who visited Jesus Christ at birth bringing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Indeed, giving is the act of providing a gift or something to somebody without the expectation of receiving something in return, as it equally involves generosity and charity to help those in need who may not be related to us. It is therefore expedient for us to emulate the virtue of the wise men by giving and helping our neigbours to make the Christmas celebration worthwhile by sharing and giving them what God has endowed us with, in joy and happiness. This is giving without any reservation or hoping to receive something in return.

Although, the process of deciding what to give may be tedious, it is however clear with the example given by the wise men but that we can give whatever we have irrespective of the price value; the important thing is the spirit behind the giving which is the joy of Christmas. These various items which we can readily provide for those around us will make their celebration unique.

As we celebrate, we urge all faithful to endeavour to drive with care, eat moderately, be careful of what you do and watch your spending, as we wish you a joyous and successful celebration.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
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Christmas Is Christ's Mission
Lo, I have come to do thy will O God” (Hebrews 10:7; cf. Psalm 40:8). The INCARNATION, this is, the union of the human nature and the divine nature (the WORD becoming man as well as God) in the one person of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary has meaning solely in the complete WILL of the Most Blessed Trinity. The Word was sent by the Father in complete obedience of the Son (who is the word) by the power of the Holy Spirit. Consequent upon the complete obedience of the word to the will of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, the incarnation and the subsequent birth of Christ became a reality. It is this WILL of the Father in complete obedience of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit which the Blessed Virgin Mary in her Most unreserved humility consented to when she exclaimed: “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) which is simply: fiat voluntatuam = thy will be done. Here, the fullness of the Grace of the ALL INVOLVING PARTICIPATION of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the total fulfillment of the WILL or MISSION of the Most Blessed Trinity is unequivocally made manifest.

Thy will be done is the essence of the birth, that is, the coming of Christ as man into the world. Christ's birth is Christ's Mission otherwise referred to as Christmas. Christ the word of God and God Himself became flesh to be born solely in order to fully execute the WILL of the Most Blessed Trinity. This will of the Most Blessed Trinity is the total salvation of the world from eternal Damnation. This is the Mass, the Mission which, through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, in the full unity of the power of the Holy Spirit, has been achieved by all means to the glory of God the Father.

THE MASS IS THE MISSION.

The word mission is from the Latin word missio meaning a sending forth, the act of being sent. The English word, Mass, originates from the word missio. Hence, at the end of the celebration of the mission of Christ, the Holy Mass of Christ, in which the life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on mount Calvary for the salvation of the world is re-enacted, all are enjoined to go in peace to live and carry what has been packaged, given and authorized so that the individuals can and should now go out and spread or distribute that eternal and infinite gift of God to all and sundry. In other words, the mass is ended means that the packaging of the mission (Mass), that is, all that the sending forth entails, has been well put in place and therefore all those who are authorized to receive the package are to do so and allow themselves to be sent and do the WILL of the one who has sent them.

NO CHRIST WITHOUT MASS AS NO MASS WITHOUT SACRIFICE
Christ is the author and finisher of both the true Mass and the true Sacrifice. He is truly the vine all others are branches. For this reason, it ought to, normally, be more logical to say that no mass without Christ. Yet, the reasoning here is that the appearance (the INCARNATION) of Christ at all should necessarily denote first, “Mission” or “Mass” before it should be seen as connoting the same. With this understanding, it is contradictory for anyone to claim the possession of Christ without the celebration of, and participation in the Holy Mass (Holy Mission) of Christ. In other words, anyone who consciously or unconsciously excludes the Holy Mass, which is the Mission of Christ, from his life, belief and worship excludes Christ entirely, for Christ Himself has made this abundantly clear when he states: “and he who does not take (up) his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Manete in dilectione mea = remain in my love (John 15:9). No one can actually claim to remain in THE love of Christ and indeed in Christ himself if the person excludes the Mass (mission) of Christ which is his suffering and sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of the world.

MISSIONARIES ARE NOT MERCENARIES
Missionaries are not mercenaries. Missionaries follow strictly the mandate of their master, Jesus Christ, the Lord who commanded the apostles specifically and all his followers in general to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

How are the missionaries supposed to conduct themselves? The missionaries are to avoid the running after earthly possessions for personal gains (cf. Mark 6:8; Luke 10:4; Matthew 10:9). It is not part of the missionaries' mission to be trouble makers especially engaging in trading and such like business for personal gains (cf. Luke 10:4; 12:15). It is a missionary spirit and culture to accept and take only what is given to the missionary (cf. Luke 12:7). It is the missionary spirit to bring healing, that is the message of salvation to all and sundry (cf. Luke 10:9). The missionary is always ready and willing to do good, build and salvage the good name of the church not destroying and savaging it even if he has to die (Luke 231:10-21).

The Mercenaries on the other hand are paid workers. They are only interested in money. They are ready to do anything provided they get whatever they want not minding about whether their actions are right or wrong or about the effects of the actions on other people. It is the culture and spirit of mercenaries to look for every available opportunity to loot and destroy. With this understanding, it will not be too difficult to distinguish between missionaries and mercenaries among the workers in the Lord's vineyard.

As we celebrate this year's Christmas, let us be mindful of the will of our Almighty God for the whole world and be committed to pursuing and fulfilling that WILL to the fullest for the salvation of the whole world and the glory of God come what may. Amen.
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MARY HAS PROVED A FAITHFUL COMPANION AND A GENEROUS ASSOCIATE OF CHRIST HER SON (Pt. 2)
» By Rev. Fr. Alfred Ebalu
In September, 1997 during his general audience, the Pope commented on the above council's statement by saying:

With these statements, the constitution, Lumen Gentium wishes to give proper emphasis to the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was intimately associated with Christ's redemptive work, becoming the Saviour's “generous associate”, in a singular way”. With the action of any mother, from the most ordinary to the most demanding, Mary freely co-operated in the work of humanity's salvation in profound and constant harmony with her divine Son.

In a physical and spiritual manner, Mary followed Jesus right up to the cross. Even when his disciples deserted him during his passion (Mk 14:50), Mary proved herself a faithful companion and a “generous associate of Christ. She entered into Christ mystery of redemption as a cooperator. G. Katholil says that Mary and Jesus met at Calvary and that Mary's heart was in harmony with that of Jesus. They both surrender their wills to the Father for the redemption of the world. Her presence brought Jesus consolation on his way to the cross, and at the actual moment of his sacrificial death. She proved herself to be a true co-operator and a faithful companion of the Incarnate Word. It is this active involvement of Mary in life and mission of Christ that made the Fathers of the church to say that she freely co-operated in the work of salvation through faith and obedience. So we can rightly say that the unity or companionship between the Mother and Son is that of close and indissoluble tie, hence it continues even in heaven.

At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary was told that the son whom she was to give birth to “will be great ... and the Lord will give him the throne of his.' father David, and he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). This is what Mary was told at the Annunciation and the greatness of Jesus in words and deeds showed that he had the potency of becoming this wonderful king. Hence the people wanted to take him by force and make him a king but he escaped from them (Jn. 6:15). The next moment, the table turned and the expected king became the dejected and despised one. In all these Mary still believed that what she was told would be fulfilled. Before her very eyes her son was dying like a criminal yet, she exhibited heroic faith in God.

The pope says: And now standing at the foot of the cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of these words (the message of the angel that the reign of this son will have no end). On that wood of the cross, her son hangs in agony as one condemned. How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God's “unsearchable judgement”. How completely she “abandons herself to God” without reserve, “offering the full consent of the intellect and will Bishop Ayo-Maria Atoyebi writes, “her faith was unshakeable when her son laid dying on the cross, though she was apparently defeated and abandoned, she held to her belief in the divinity of her son. She believed that he will rise up on the third day. This is the greatest act of faith ever made”.

Mary's faith in the face of this hopeless situation is indeed heroic and bits all imagination. The Pope says: through this faith, Mary is perfectly united with Christ in His self emptiness. At the foot of the cross, Mary shares true faith in the shocking mystery of Christ's self emptiness. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history”. He says again that: “through this faith the mother shares in the death of her son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of his disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened”. As far as the disciple were concerned, the death of Christ on the cross was the end of their hope in Him (Lk 24:13-21). Mary is truly blessed for her faith.

We can eloquently say that: from the cross, that is to say from the very heart of the mystery of Redemption, there radiate and spread out the prospect of Mary's blessing as a woman of faith. It goes back to “the beginning”, and as a sharer in the sacrifice of Christ- the new Adam-it becomes in a certain sense the counterpoise of the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first parents.

Looking at Mary's faith under the cross, we can then agree with Irenaeus: “the Knot of Eve's disobedient was untied by Mary's obedient; what the Virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosened by her faith. The Vatican Council says that the early fathers compared Mary with Eve and called her the mother of the living and frequently claimed: death though Eve, life through Mary.

Mary's pilgrimage of faith, begun at the annunciation, continued right through the cross where it faced the severest test ever. There, by some divine arrangement, she shared with her maternal spirit, in the sacrifice of her son.

In the hopeless situation of Christ death at Golgatha, Mary like Abraham “in hope believed against hope” that all that the angel told her about her son would be fulfilled. John Aniagwu asks: 'if Abraham is 'our father in faith' (Rm. 4:12), then can Mary not rightly be called 'our mother in faith?'

The synoptic report a group of women standing afar off (a) Mary Magdalene; (b) Mary, mother of James and Joseph (or Joses); (c) Salome, probably wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John. The Fourth Gospel reports the beloved disciple and four women standing at the foot of the cross: (a) the mother of Jesus; (b) her unnamed sister (Salome? This would make Zebedee's Sons cousins of Jesus); (c) Mary (wife?) of Clopas; (d) Mary Magdalene. Actually (b) and (c) can be read in apposition, making Mary of Clopas the sister of Jesus' mother, but it is unlikely to have two sisters with the same name.

For the significance of the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple (neither of whom is ever named), we refer back to Cana. The mother of whose family request was rebuked but still answered is now given the role of the mother of the ideal disciples.

All these put together however, led to the devotion to Mary as mother of the church which has been a consistent dimension of Christian faith. From Jesus' words on the cross in Jn 19. 25-27, Christians have identified with the beloved disciple and seen Mary as their mother. This experience has led Catholics of many countries to name Mary as their patroness (advocate, protector, supporter, and mother); for instance, they call her virgin of the immaculate conception in the United States and Chile; Virgin of Lourdes in France; and Virgin of Fatima in Portugal. The strong devotion of Latin American countries to Mary as a mother who protect and assists her children is revealed in their titles for her: Our Lady of Mercy in the Dominican Republic, Our Lady of Caridad del cobre (charity) in Cuba, Our Lady of Divine Providence in Puerto Rico, and Our Lady of Help in Guatemala, to name a few.

The virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juaa Diego, a humble native from Tenochtitlaa near Mexico City. She had the face of the mestizo people (the descendant of native and Spanish people), and her words to Juaa Diego were those of a caring mother, especially for her children who are suffering, poor, or oppressed. To all of us who have gathered here and beyond in the honouring and promotion of the devotion to Mary, she says this to all of us:

Here I wish to hear and help you, and all who dwell in this land and all those who love me, and invoke, and place their confidence in me; and to hear your complaints and remedy all your sorrows, hardships, and suffering...

Listen and understand well my children, that you have no cause to be frightened.., is this not your mother next near to you? Are you not here in the shelter of my loving shadow?... let nothing worry or afflicts you further... (Office of Religious Education, a hand book of Guadalupe, pp. 148, 152).
In conclusion, we depend very much on the Blessed Mother Mary, and as such, the greatest regard we owe her is to emulate the virtues that constituted her holiness of life for the apostolic demands of our time. Thus, let us ask for God's providence through her special prayer, that no matter the toss on the wave of affliction in our world today, we shall overcome. “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” May our Lord grant His grace of perseverance, patience to all of us and our Diocese through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Is Divorce Better Than A Bad Marriage?
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhanosime
"Marriage problems are relationship problems; they are the result of how two people interact with one another. You may abandon a troubled marriage, but you will still bring the way you interact with others along with you." ~Mark Gungor

The consequences we bear are products of our choices in life. Man summarily is a product of his choice. Our choices form a kind of line, a trajectory of our lives and this determines how our lives are patterned. In fact, the quality of our lives is a product of our choices. Each choice has its effect in the future than the immediate present. And sad enough, we do not all know the implication of some of our choices when we take them and so, when its effects start unfolding, we quarrel with its product as not our initial bargain. But little did we know they were all yoked together, only that we did not inspect properly what we were purchasing. On our choices too, we are impelled towards certain decisions, not just as a soothing option and even the most viable, but sometimes, we enter the bargain because of a custom which has been ordered in that direction; right or wrong. This too, is the point with marriage and our choices.

More than ever before, more marriages are deteriorating, from excessive conflict, through lack of intimacy, poor communication to divorce. Sadly notable is that the rate in divorce is on the increase by the day. This is so because the institution of marriage is experiencing an erosion and threat from modern lifestyles which encourage break-ups than fixing problems. We sadly live in a generation which seem to get a new item once it has some issues, rather than repair it. This too, has its toll on social relationships, especially marriage. The influence on modern marriages is so grave that the option for divorce is easily taken notwithstanding the stigma and frustration associated with this. Hitherto, to be a divorcee was rather a stigma and a negative mark, but society seem to have glorified divorce to a level that the state of being divorced is no longer defaming. Nonetheless, with this upturn on the table, society has not been able to erode the consequences. The question that leaves us a strong challenge is whether the risk is worth taking? Despite the high toll on divorce and its circumstantial abashed glorification, is a bad marriage and spending a lifetime on working things out better than a divorce? The Times of India took a Gallup poll on this topic, 76.0% voted in the affirmative; namely, divorce is a better venture than a bad marriage and 24.0% voted in the negative that it is not a venture worth embarking. This shocking statistic seems to theoretically give a nudge for divorce but this may not exactly be so from the practical dimension. Another stunning finding which opens the debate anew despite significant difference in vote, is that most of the voters in the affirmative were not divorcees, while those who think it is a bad idea were divorcees. It is pertinent therefore, to re-examine the many sides of divorce.

Divorce is not a spontaneous action in marriage. It is the spill-over of a bad build up. There are many warning signs and indicators that lead to most divorce cases. These indicators are not necessarily conclusive for divorce but are negative indicators which if not properly handled, have a bad forecast. Some of these predictors include when a relationship is beginning to have harsh start-ups; when conversations are approached with conflict, sarcasm, accusations, criticism, derogatory remarks, etc. this leads to an acrimonious ending. Further, when spouses overwhelm each other with such negativity leading to emotional shut-down and detachment is a strong warning sign for divorce. This is nonetheless, sufficient, but with consistent failed attempts to repair. The breaking straw is often when partners fixate themselves with bad memories, view their relationship with a negative lens and conjuring of images of worse tales in the future. All these are the commonest predictors to divorce. But as we can see ultimately, that divorce is just a product of a bad choice; it is a product of a warped thinking which could be otherwise different. It is more about the offended party than the offending party. Choices of divorce have their counter effects on many sides, just like the choice to stay married has its implications. Once one ventures into the choice of divorce, the rhythm of his relationship and all around him changes; from the children to the individual through social to psychological. Judith Wallerstein, a divorce researcher notes, “Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different. Adolescence is different. Adulthood- with the decision to marry or not and have children or not is different. Whether the outcome is good or bad, the whole trajectory of an individual's life is profoundly altered by the divorce experience.”

Divorce often offers a lot of lure and promises of what would be achieved not necessarily what would be lost. There is the strong lure for independence and desire to be alone. The lure presents the marriage as an entanglement that one needs liberation from. It offers so many seeming positive ties that have been whitewashed by media propaganda. But, it is not the media that suffers the effect, neither whatever mediating third party that has approved of the divorce before the eventual decision by the spouses, but the divorcing couple and their family that pay the final bill. Far from being a liberating experience, divorce may come with a staggeringly high price. The hard truth is that even when legitimate grounds of divorce abound and even sufficient, it is the most expedient factor to count the cost before one embarks on it. Its consequences can be painful and long lasting. The painful aftereffects of divorce are various.

Of the first bitter harvest of divorce on the couple is the emotional and moral effect. The partner to be divorced was the once heartthrob of the individual. To have entered into marriage with a partner in the first place, especially those marriages entered with realistic emotions; meant that the partner was truly part of the individual. To therefore sever of this emotional unity that had long existed is often traumatizing. The analogy of an aching finger could be helpful here. But to sever it would make one disabled, when it was possible to be healed. Divorce is often linked to unhappiness, depression and frustration. Some studies carried out on divorced people revealed that life after divorce is never the same and divorcees are often susceptible to emotional breakdown and depression. There is also a jinx associated with divorce. Once a person has had a first divorce, he or she is likely to engage in second and may be a third and the circle continues viciously. Closely associated with this is that relationship experts opine that children of divorcees are likely to have a divorce when married. Once one divorces, he is either likely to divorce in the next marriage because, he would run out his/her limit of patience or be forced to take up more inconveniences he/she couldn't condone in the first marriage.

Closely knit with the emotional imbalance is that of moral upturn. Divorce opens one to a lope side in morality. Researchers have found that after divorce, most men and women briefly enter a sort of second adolescence. They taste their newfound freedom by pursing a succession of new romantic attachments in order to boost sagging self-esteem or to alleviate loneliness. Dating for self-serving reasons, always lead to sexual perversity with its peculiar litany of tragic consequences. One often thinks he has no obligation to anyone anymore, until he gets into some troubles; redeemable and irredeemable. This situation is characteristic of people with terminal conditions. It is the first stage of denial and sedation. The flagrant involvement in sexual escapades is the desire to wear of the memory of the first relationship; and like every sedative, the pain of the condition resurfaces with the expiration of the sedating effects. Sexual exploits only adds to the problem on ground and never solves the problem. Similar to this is binge drinking by men and keeping of late nights. The early years of a divorce are marked with unwholesome adolescent-kind of behaviour and it can be particularly traumatic and harmful for children to see their parents act in this way.

There is also the financial upheaval that comes with divorce. Most women are the more vulnerable to financial catastrophe from the divorce. They are more likely to contend with other domestic burden like health, housing, feeding, clothing, etc. which was hitherto, the responsibility of the man. In marriages where there are children, the challenge of raising the children is often the duty of the women in countries where there is no protection laws, or divorce protection laws. She does this most times under the fear of still losing the children to the man when they are grown after training them. Sometimes, the children change school to less financially-demanding ones because of the burden she now had to bear. Men however, often suffer the trauma of being strangers to his children when he comes to see or visit them. Divorce also helps one grow a certain kind of hardness to oneself and those around him. It fosters the culture of selfishness. Once one gets divorced, his happiness which often ends up being a mirage is often the first priority and this is pursued in many vain ways. Partners of divorce are susceptible to alcoholism and substance abuse. This sometimes even deadens them to the reality of the world around them and even their children.

Divorce has a social implication of ostracism. Marriages are not only about two individuals but also about two families. By marriage, more social relationships are contracted even on account of that marriage, new relationships are knitted. But, once there is divorce, many relationships which seem to be built on the foundation of the marriage whittle down their strength. In fact, divorce has a way of injecting acrimony into some of those relationships. Some people find it difficult to relate with one another as the basis of relationship had collapsed. This does not go alone. A lot of stories are traded in the process. Both partners usually volunteer calumnious information about the other person's weakness and how his/her consistent misdemeanour has led to the breakdown of the marriage. All these are not without effect. Those who have been gossiped to usually take sides and end up trying to either play judges or even volunteer the same doctored and unverified information to others and a circle of hate is drawn around the divorcees. The bitter pill is still swollen by the divorcing partners and the greatest estrangement goes to them too.

For women, divorce could force them to change their job because they would need more time with the children. In a society where jobs are not easy to come by, divorce means an imposed-stress on the woman. She is very likely to have a low-income job for want of time for parenting as the high-brow jobs could be time-consuming. Divorce conditions the woman to accept so many things and they are just on the increase. Along this border too, she may want to change the name of the man whom she was already bearing. This change from what she was known societally and back to something else leaves her with a social disorientation and risks the dangers of anonymity or at least, personality inconsistency. Similarly, women become very vulnerable to many things and even security upon divorce of his husband. Once a woman loses the husband by death, it is more understanding socially than a case of divorce which is a deliberate act of being alone.

Once there are children in the marriage, divorce becomes very challenging for parenting. Once children have been part of a marital union, divorce becomes more traumatizing and a very bad bargain. Children may experience difficulties adjusting to the changes on parenting depending on the prior parenting responsibilities. Both men and women may find themselves spending less time with their offspring, juggling children between the two homes, negotiating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities are all part of the awful package of divorce.
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Weaving Peace In A Rift Valley
» By Rev. Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua
Introduction

In May 2010, I attended a peace building training workshop at the Aberdare Country Club, Nyeri Kenya. This training was facilitated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for the Anglophone West African. Archbishop Peter Kairo, the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri in his opening speech emphasized the pain of crisis. For him, “the victims most affected by the absence of peace are families” who are torn apart in Africa as a result of war, terrorism that result in displacement of people into refugee camps. In moment of crisis, victims of war and violence use to take refuge in places of worship. In Nigeria today, some people are even afraid to attend their normal regular hours of worship for fear of bomb explosions. This is a big threat to the future of African values of hospitality and community that Africa is known for. The training in Nyer, Kenya ended with a wonderful phrase: “weaving peace in a rift valley”. This means that every normal person should enroll in “peace building project” to save our religions and our nations.

It is very interesting that some Nigerian past presidents have broken silence in the face of the security challenges in Nigeria. I pray for their honesty and sincerity. I read with enthusiasm the front page of Sunday Trust of July 22, 2012: “Army, Police Rivalry Stalls Talks with Boko Haram- The untold story of Governor Shettima, IGP, DSS peace talks with 11 Boko Haram commanders”. What a bold and courageous effort, a good beginning of weaving peace in Nigeria's “rift valley”. This effort should continue since “the blind eye is not opened with only one attempt. Who knows if that effort will one day beam a radiant light on this rift valley and liberate us from this night mare? Peace is deeper than the mere absence of war. Peace is an antidote that is capable of healing all forms of conflicts that has injured memories and wounded hearts. Different religious traditions claim to be ambassadors of peace. Unfortunately, the practice does not prove the claims. So what does peace mean to a Christian and a Muslim in the context of our traditional values and cultural milieu?

Scriptural basis for Peace Building

Perhaps to build capacity for peace, we can once more reflect on what the Holy Books and the prophets teach us about peace. In the Old Testament, God is personified as peace. Isaiah painted a picture of a time where the lion and the lamb would live together and the child plays with a cobra. Those who will bring about this type of peace are children of God: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God” (Matthew 5, 9). This effort needs divine courage and energy:

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 1], 28-30). This is the gift of Jesus to us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14, 27). Jesus was aware of the persecution that the Church would go through: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16, 33). At last, Jesus imparted his final blessing and greeting as a model for Christians: “Peace be with you” (John 20, 19).

The Arabic word salaam is synonymous to the word “Islam”. In order words, intra-personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah. Once this peace is attained, everybody around the individual is guaranteed peace. It follows therefore that a Muslim is endowed with the interior peace that must be extended to any person irrespective of faith. Al-Naim, Abdullahi Ahmed (1990) observed that peace and peacemaking are seen in Islamic tradition as part and parcel of human development. In Islam peace and making peace are seen as Godly acts worthy ofpraise and reward. Sahih Bukhari says that in Islam peace is advocated as a divine quality to be pursued in order to achieve the state of felicity that we were in paradise, man's former dwelling. Quran states in Al Maidah: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to u make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do”!
Peace building Techniques.

How I wish these teachings from the Holy Books can touch terrorists to join the project of weaving peace in our rift valley? The result would make peace flow like a river into the desert of our heart to send the captives free? Peace building is like a tree planted by the river side. Many generations reap the fruits of its endurance. The seeds of this tree are a symbol of the capacity to prevent conflict, reconcile people in conflicts and plan strategies and skills that can help the human person for a very long time. This will finally help the community and the society to have a sustainable peace. We can actually plant and sustain a peaceful coexistence at all levels especially ethnic and religious harmony in our world especially now that many people are becoming very interested in preaching peace.

Weaving peace in a rift valley is the space to create principles for a sustainable capacity to integrate all levels of intervention in conflict prevention and management. This project calls for leaders who can identify peace builders who must resist the temptation to take sides in contributing to the larger justice and peace issues. Our present peace project needs experts who must act locally and think globally not however undermining the fact that no single level, activity, person, organization is able to bring peace in isolation of other people. This means that we need a national peace structure that will coordinate all these collaborative efforts.

This must include integrating people, roles and activities akin to the spider web (a combination of threads and strand); flexible strong and resistant. This needs people who have the heart for promoting relationships between people who are not like-minded but who are interdependent. We must note however that there is a difference between Human right activism and peace building. Our peace initiatives must survive us by creating functional structures. This structure must have the capacity to be proactive in responding to emerging issues while reinforcing longer and larger change process. It follows that we cannot fold our hands when we see problems emerging. “It is not my business often turns to every bodies business”.
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ARTHRITIS
» By Pharm. Nnzewi
To understand Arthritis, we need to know the placement of bones where this disorder is commonly found. Where two bones meet is called a joint between the two bones. The joints between two bones include those found at the knees, hips, ankles, elbows, fingers. The ends of these bones are anatomically covered with a tough tissue called cartilage. The cartilage is there to prevent the two bones from rubbing directly against each other. The space between the cartilages of the meeting bones is filled with a fluid called synovial fluid. Good blood circulation is very important when treating arthritic condition. If circulation of blood is poor, the fluid is also affected. The waste products of cellular metabolism will build up in the synovial fluid of the joints. Waste products of cellular metabolism are supposed to enter into the blood and be sent out of the body from the circulating blood via the kidney and the skin. We can hereby appreciate the importance of good blood circulation. With the accumulation of these toxins, the fluid tends to be stagnant. The acidic wastes stimulate the nerve fiber in the affected joints. The situation generates stiffness and pain at the joint. If unchecked, the structure of the joint will face degeneration, the synovial fluid begins to dry up and surface of the cartilage will begin to eat off. This way the whole joint is destroyed and movement becomes very difficult.

At the stage where the joint begins to offer stiffness and pain, the individual attempts to bear pain by taking up a less painful posture. This maneuver to avoid pains ends up with abnormal posture called deformity. Movement becomes more difficult and painful.
Arthritis is marked with loss of mobility, stiffness, instability and deformity. Following these, the one can only manage low shoes and sandals. In some situations, there is infection of the synovial fluid. The inflammation presents with pain, heat, redness and swelling.

TYPES OF ARTHRITIS: We can identify the following: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RH) Osteo Arthritis (OA), Gouty Arthritis, and Ineffective Arthritis, Arthritis associated with rheumatic fever, Juvenile Chronic Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthropathy, and Ankolysing Spondylitis. There are laboratory tests for diagnosing arthritis. We shall consider the Rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. It is a common type of arthritis and usually affects the hands and feet first. It may spread to joints such as the elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. The joints in the jaw, and spine, especially the neck can be involved. The same can also affect the fingers of the hands, and the toes of the feet. Thus they are difficult to straighten out.

SIGNS
The joints are stiff for about one hour on waking in the mornings
Usually same joints on both sides of the body are affected.
Affected hand and wrist joints will show radiological changes.
Rheumatoid nodules can be detected.
Abnormal antibody (Rheumatoid Factor) can be found in the serum of the patient.

CAUSES:
Rheumatoid Arthritis may be caused by the following
1. Infection. This is usually viral in nature.
2. Auto Immune Response: A healthy person usually produces antibodies against the invading antigens in other to protect the body. If the antibodies are directed against parts of the person's own body cells, they are called auto-antibodies and the disease is called auto 'immune'. Continuous presence of many immune complex initiates inflammation.
3. Genetic Factor: Rheumatic arthritis can also be initiated from genetic base.

TREATMENT
The known treatment include medication (medicines), exercise, physiotherapy, and in severe cases surgery. Drugs are employed to tackle the pain usually caused by inflammation, prevent deformities, and to keep the joints functional as much as possible. When inflammation is persistence in a joint, a steroidal medicament is usually injected into such a joint. Arthritis can cause severe damage to joint and refuse response to drugs. Example is creeping arthritis. Such severe damage to the joint calls for surgery.

NOTE: Consumption of red meat will encourage the progression of arthritis. I want to tell the readers of this article that there is nothing our GOD who so much loves us cannot do for us. He who gave up His Beloved Son for the LOVE of us, is it our ailments that He will not lay off our body. All you need is FIRM FAITH, and a mind devoid of doubt.
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Mary As Queen Of Heaven
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
INTRODUCTION

The title, Queen of Heaven, which is ascribed to the Blessed Virgin Mary albeit accepted by many, some people nevertheless are hesitant in accepting this title because they argue that it had been ascribed to Ishtar (Astarte) the fertility goddess of the Assyro-Babylonian, the daughter of the moon-god, whose worship was introduced during the reign of King Manessah, and was revived after the death of King Josiah. According to the Prophet Jeremiah the children gathered wood, their father's lit the fire, and the women bread dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, while libations were poured out to strange gods in order to hurt me (Jer 7:18). Thus one of the sins the Israelites committed to provoke God's anger was the worship of the goddess through the burning of incense, baking of bread cakes in the shapes of star and pouring of libation to the queen of heaven. For this, God severely punished them with the sword and famine (Jer 44:15-30).

The title Queen of Heaven as it is used with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary simply means that with reference to Jesus, who is the King of Heaven and earth, Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth According to Steven L. Kellmeyer, the title “Queen” in the Near Eastern kingdom was ascribed to the mother of a king. She assisted the king in the administration of the land by serving as a counselor, leading the people in song worship and as an advocate of the people before her son, the king. Cf Prov 31:1-2, 8-9; 2 Chro 22:2-4; 1 Kgs 2:19; 1 Kgs 15:9-13. The Blessed Virgin Mary in this sense enjoys the title “Queen” for she fulfilled these roles perfectly well. She instructed the disciples to do whatever they were told to do by Jesus (Jn 2:1-11), she joined the disciples of Jesus in prayer (Acts 1:13-14).

Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth. The title “Queen of heaven” was addressed to Mary in the fourth century. Thus, the Church on 221x August, that is seven days after the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Heaven represents the reign of God and Mary being the Mother of God enjoys the favour of God. She can rightly be addressed as Queen.

Mary's Queenship should be understood as a participation in the royal dignity of Jesus Christ whose reign was foretold by Angel Gabriel (Lk 1:32-33). According to St. Gregory Nazianzen, Mary is the mother of the King of the universe. St. Aiphonsus Ligouri, in collecting the testimony of past ages, declared that: “Because the Virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honoured her with the title 'Queen.'”

For “just as Christ, as our redeemer, is our Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin also (is our queen), on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by freely offering Him for us, by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in our salvation (Ad Caeli Reginam, n. 39).

CONCLUSION
Since Jesus is king of Heaven and earth, it is fitting to ascribe to Mary, the Mother of God, the title of Queen of heaven. Mary by virtue of her response to God in the salvation of Man. possesses the grace that sets her apart. Hence, no other person has the right to the title Queen of Heaven except the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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IS THERE PURGATORY? AND IS IT BIBLICAL TO PRAY FOR THE DEAD? (Pt. 2)
» By Rev. Fr. Mario Agbeifo
Now, let us place man's final destination: heaven and hell, in proportion to the ends of the persons of the above categories. Category 1 represents the faithful servants who will be rewarded for their faithfulness. And what is the fate of the faithful? It is heaven (Matthew 25:34). Category 2 represents the unfaithful that will be given severe beating. And what is the fate of the unfaithful beginning from the devil himself and all his demons? It is hell (Matthew 25:41).

Category 3 represents those whose sins do not lead to death (venial). What is their fate? Heaven? No! Because they were not faithful in the sense of those in category 1. Hell? No! Because their sins do not lead to death; and they will be given light beating, not severe as with those in category 2 because their sins are of different degree. So where is their fate? Will they therefore become hovering souls? No!

For an answer to this, I will give the illustration with the prison system. The prison is a place of punishment for crimes. Some go to prison to get reformed in great anticipation of freedom again someday and consequent reabsorption into the free society, with all rights and privileges as a human being; and some go to prison without any hope of coming out and they spend the rest of their lives there. While those in category I may be likened to those enjoying freedom, those in category 2 may be likened to those with life imprisonment and finally those in category 3 may be likened to those who are sent into prison to be reformed with a view to regain back their freedom and then be reabsorbed into the free society. Note that while both are in prison; they are not kept in the same place or given the same treatment. Little wonder the Bible says that the Lord will repay each person according to his deeds (cf Matthew 16:27).

Following from the above illustrations, as to the fate of those in category 3 and given the two options of heaven and hell as the only two last places, it is easier to say that category 3 will go to heaven going by the powerful love and mercy of God. If this is so, then category 3 has to pass through a state of purification in order for it to be fit for heaven. It is this state of purification that the Catholic Church calls purgatory. It is this idea of purgatory that is the rationale behind the Catholic Church's teaching of praying for the dead that they may be purified from their sins and gain eternal rest in heaven.

Is it Biblical to Pray for the Dead that They May Be Freed from Their Sins?

Yes, it is biblical to pray for our departed brothers and sisters so that they maybe free from their sins. In 2 Maccabees 12:38-45 (3), we see that Judas offered an expiatory sacrifice for the dead members of his army so that they might be released from their sin:

Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the Sabbath there. On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepuchres of their ancestors. Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of, Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honourably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking forward to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore, he has atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.

Furthermore, second letter of St. Paul to Timothy 1:16-18, Paul, recounting the goodness of Onesiphorus to him while he (Onesiphorus) was still alive, Paul prayed for the departed soul of Onesiphorus his dear friend when he said: May the Lord grant him to find the Lord's mercy on that Day. You know better than anyone else how much he helped me at Ephesus (NJ B).

This is not just a mere expression of sentimental emotions, but a prayer for a person who is no more alive. Next to Jesus, Paul is the most influential person in the history of the Christian faith. If praying for the dead were against the teachings of Christ and there were one person who would have stood vehemently against it, then, it would have been Paul. Of all the followers of Christ in his time, he was the most zealous in terms of everything, especially purity of the Christian doctrine.

In a similar vein, praying for the dead that they may be freed from their sins might not just be something new. Even in the time of St Paul it had already been in existence. In trying to convince the Corinthians about the truth of the resurrection of the dead in I Corinthian 15:12- 30, Paul had to take their minds back to the practice of his days whereby; living persons offered themselves to be baptized on behalf of their dead. In the context of I Corinthians 15:12-30. baptism on behalf of the dead was carried out by God believing community of Christians and not unbelievers. So Paul was telling the people of Corinth that if there were no resurrection of the dead, then the people would not practice this kind of thing: they would not undergo baptism to bear witness to the faith of fellow believers who had died without the experience of baptism.

However the case may be, it is very obvious that those baptizing on behalf of the dead were doing so for God's mercy to shine on those dead: and you will agree with me that this act in itself is prayer for the dead.

Lastly, in the letter of 1Peter 3:18-20, the Bible tells us that at his death, Christ went in spirit to preach to the spirits of the dead, who in the days of Noah, did not obey God's commandment when God waited patiently for them to be saved. We know that those in Noah's days died many thousand years before Jesus; and yet Jesus extended his redemptive work to them because they too, are Sons and daughters of God.

What this teaches us is that there is no limit to God's mercy. His mercy is powerful and effective even at death.

Conclusion
Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation. In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day. This is a good way to begin the month. Pray for your departed family members and friends and receive God's blessings in the month of November.

May the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!
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Typhoon Ha1yan And The Rest Of Us
» By Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo
There are terrible situations that one could face in life. These situations can be experienced as an individual, family or as a nation. As a nation, the Philippines in recent times are passing through a difficult moment and this is as a result of the strong wind called the Typhoon Haiyan, rocking the peace of the entire populace of that country.

What is a Typhoon?

Simply put, a “Typhoon” can be seen as a “strong wind or storm” and it is a Chinese term, “tai fung” meaning “a great wind”. It is a name also used to describe a Hurricane and this is based on the level of destructiveness. It a type of cyclone occurring in the Western Region of the Pacific Ocean. Both hurricane and typhoon are regionally specific names for strong “tropical cyclone”. Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire or pacific coast, the Philippines is vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Although the country is rapidly urbanizing, many people still live in poverty, particularly in rural areas where farmers struggle to make out a living. In the southern Philippines, long-standing conflicts exist between religious and ethnic groups.

Typhoon Haiyan

On the 7th November 2013, it was announced that the Super Typhoon Haiyan is heading towards the Philippines with winds of more than 175mph. In less than 24 hours this strongest wind ever recorded struck the Central Philippines, ripping off rooftops, knocking power and communication facilities and worse still rendering hundreds of people homeless. This pathetic situation may not be peculiar to Philippines alone for typhoons could also be seen in countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, etc. They have been given different names as far as history can tell. We have had typhoons like Typhoon Nancy, 1961, Typhoon Tip, 1979, Typhoon Olivia, 1996 to mention but a few. It has been gathered through research that Typhoon Haiyan popularly called the Super Typhoon Haiyan is 3.5 times more forceful than the Hurricane Katrina that hit the United States in 2005. In fact, some say that the extent of destruction cannot be measured with Hurricane Katrina. Be that as it may this particular typhoon is something to prayed and worried about.

Our Role to Play

The situation is that of Philippines and this could happen to any country irrespective of the region in which that country is located. It has been reported that a singular event like a typhoon, especially for those in impoverished parts of our world, can derail a family's stability, deplete a lifetime of savings and push them over poverty's edge. For larger communities, the devastation to infrastructure, economy and reserves can set back a generation. In the spirit of charity and solidarity we need to appreciate and emulate the move made by the Catholic Relief Services who deployed its teams across the Philippines' most heavily affected areas to determine the most pressing needs and how best to help. They have made a campaign to the whole World that our support will allow them to reach more people, more communities, with vital help now and to stay with them for as long as it takes to achieve a full recovery. A little goes a long way and they need our help. There are many other organizations that have rendered their help such as the Mai Zamora from the World Vision Organization, the International Red Cross Organization, etc. However, one must not wait for the Catholic Relief Services to launch the campaign for help, we can all be involved.

Firstly, there is the need to pray for divine intervention in the lives of the Filipinos and wish them well. Then one can equally make the move to render help to whatever extent one can, and of course help propagate the call for help. It is good to tell the story of Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, but it is best and more effective to assist in making something good out of this sorrowful story. It is simply to pray for the Filipinos, the rest of the world and if possible send down help as quickly as possible.
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Appreciation And Healing Experience
» By Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe
If one is favoured and has enjoyed the joy of having a good husband, wife, children, job and good health of body and mind, he or she will always desire to remain in such beautiful state of life. Both young and old people, whether bad or good in their life style always long for a beautiful family as well as good health of the body and mind. We all need a beautiful garden that will be fully sustained and flourishing. Appreciating the right source is the true key that will keep our feet in the ground of success. The Psalmist says “Happy are those who reject the advice of evil men, who do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God. Instead they find joy in obeying the law of the Lord, and they study it day and night. They are like trees that grows behind a stream, that bear fruit at the right time and whose leaves do not dry up” (Psalm 1: 1 -3).

The sustainability and expansion of a favour received is most determined by the give of the favour. So, losing sight of the giver of a favour received is a way o showing ingratitude for the favour received. As such there is bound to be a depreciation of the expansion of the favour.

Yes, it is God who has led us to this beautiful state. If our life must be beautified or if we need more beauty to the existing glory God has bestowed in our lives, appreciation to God is the true spiritual force that can help to awaken the inbuilt beauty in us. And set us to the right part of fruitfulness. We cannot afford to dance without God even when we are so used to dancing steps. Hence we will dance astray. Remain in union with me and I will remain in union with you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself, it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4).

We should not fail to appreciate God in our lives. For we know where we are actually coming from. Without God, our lives could not have been so beautiful.

Lucifer lost his heavenly glory, joy, his position and he was finally cast Way horn Gods presence because he failed to appreciate and show loyalty God. Satan does not want us to live appreciating God and people around us for he wants us to be of God's favour in our lives and be exposed to shame and disgrace. If we must thwart Satan's plan concerning us, we must learn how to appreciate God through our daily life, our vocation, jobs and relationship with those around us.

If we constantly appreciate God through the way we live our lives, God will persona beautify us to the point that those around us will keep wondering the type of God we serve. God will never turn down those who turn to him through appreciation. So, gratitude to God does not only God's only bestow God's abundant blessing on our lives, it is a spiritual weapon to frustrate the plans of the evil ones. It is a spiritual welfare to overcome all challenges when we learn to appreciate God in our lives. (2 Chronicle 20).

Let our life be a thanksgiving to God. Like one of the 10 (ten) lepers that Jesus cured. When he saw that he was healed, he turned back praising God with a loud voice. He threw himself to the ground at Jesus feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus said “There were ten men who were healed: where are the other nine? (Luke 17: 15-18). It is not enough to receive a physical healing without turning back to God for appreciation. God needs our appreciation so that our healing will be holistic. According to the simple catechism, God made us to know him, serve him in this world and to be with him forever in the next.

Even the Eucharistic prayer has it that God have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank him is itself his gift. Our prayers of thanksgiving add nothing to his greatness, but make us grow in his grace. We need to continuously appreciate God with our lives. Like Bathemaeus when he received God's healing, he followed Jesus giving thanks to God. When the crowd saw it, they all praised God. (Luke 18:43). So, God want us to follow him with a life of appreciation as a sign of proclaiming these great deeds in our lives. It is true appreciation that God's grace is made abundant in our lives. He wants us to have a joyful and a thankful heart. He has called us to live a life that gives praise to him at all times. In gratitude to God, we show that we do not merit the beautiful state of our lives, that what we are today is basically from Him.

A life offered to God in gratitude, never stops to flourish daily. If we can choose to be appreciative to God through our life style, God's healing and favour will be attracted to us. The appreciating respond we give for a specific favour received out of overwhelming joy, has the capacity of drawing God's attention and glory in our lives that will help to beautify our world forever.

When Hannah who was barren for years, received Samuel as a favour from God, she did not keep Samuel to herself, she offered him to God to serve in his temple forever as a sign of her appreciation to God. The young Samuel, a product of appreciation found great favour from God. For God is always looking for appreciating people to fill them up for some noble position in our world. He brings down the proud and raises the lowly.

The sons of Eli were scoundrels. They paid no attention to the Lord or to the regulation concerning what the priests demanded from the people. But then, the boy Samuel continued to grow and to gain favour both with the Lord, and with men (1Samuel 2:12-13, 26).
We do not merit the status of our present life; it is God's favour for us. As such we must learn to keep a gratitude personality as a way of appreciating God for his favour in our lives.

Appreciation to God can be best translated in our relationship with others. Most especially our family, like husband appreciating their wives, wives appreciating their husbands as well as heads and subjects at all levels. There is continuous opening of heavenly doors of healing upon those who their lives are source of gratitude to God, The Psalmist says, Enter the temple gates with thanksgiving, go into his court with praise. Give thanks to him and praise him. The Lord is good: his love is eternal and his faithfulness last forever. (Psalm 100: 4-5). The song of gratitude must not stop on our lips. Practical actions of appreciation should be done by us, especially in our relationship with others. Let us change the story of our nation, our family and our life, to a life of appreciation. If we actually choose to appreciate our world, the response must always be glorious. If members of the family actually choose to appreciate themselves there cannot be room for Satan to influence them negatively and deprive them of enjoying God's favour in their lives. We cannot say we love God, if we cannot appreciate those around us. I do not know how you have been appreciating your family members, your vocation and your life e.t.c. But one thing is certain, that we have been called to appreciate every good gift that God ° given to us. And this good gift might be your husband, your wife, your children, job as well as your life.
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Christmas is the Celebration of Christ's Love for mankind - Bishop Dunia

As Christians all over the world mark the birth of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia has reiterated that Christmas is the celebration of Christ's love for mankind, stressing that all Christians should embrace His love and share it among their neigbours unconditionally.

He dropped this hint during a chat with THE PROMISE Newspaper crew on Christmas celebration at the Bishops' Court, Water board, Auchi.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who stressed that the person of Jesus Christ was made incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary so that He could live with man, work and teach all the way they are supposed to live and attain heaven which is the final goal, reiterated that Christmas is referred to as the Mass of Christ, hence there can be no Christmas without Mass, as the Mass is the highest Sacrifice to mark His birth and thank God for giving His son to save mankind.

According to the Bishop “we must know that Mass is a very important aspect of the celebration because, it is the centre of the celebration. It is the thanksgiving of the birth of Christ and whatever else anybody does, it should be done after faithfully and committedly participating in the celebration of the Mass of Christ, which is always done in the midnight of 24th of December, the 25th Masses are celebrated in thanksgiving for that singular birth of the savior of the world, who has come to show us the way to move forward ever and back ward never”.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who pointed out that faithful constitute the family of God on earth, averred that if Christ's faithful constitute the family of God, celebrating the birth of Christ is an occasion for all to rejoice, reconcile, forgive and worship together as a family, asserting that traditionally, when a child is born into the society, it calls for celebration not only for the immediate family but for the entire community, hence the gift of Christ for all must be appreciated, as it was to uplift all men and women.

Emphasizing the need for all to become a gift to their neigbour by loving and caring for them, the Prelate hinted that showing love to those around them will enable all appreciate the inestimable love of God for humanity, noting that such love and better relationship will promote peace, harmony, security and enhancement of human life and promote a better society. The Bishop added that “we have no other thing to give to God, other than to be decent people and follow His way and thereby show His glory by way of their life and if we are living negative lives that will bring pains, sufferings disorderliness to our community, society, our neigbours and our nation in general…”

More, the Bishop wished the Priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese a fruitful Christmas celebration, while tasking them to endeavor to always appreciate the abundant blessings of God by living a quality life worthy of emulation by those around them, affirming that Christmas is an opportunity given to them by God through Jesus Christ to extend and show love to others who cannot cater for themselves.


Dialogue Is A Compulsory Activity Of The Church - Archbishop Kaigama

The President of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), and the Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Ignatius Kaigama, has reiterated that the importance of dialogue between Christians, Muslims and other Religious beliefs for the promotion of peaceful co-existence amongst the people of the country, will build bridges, allow Nigerians to recognize and act as people who believe in the supremacy of God and cultivate the culture of respect for other people‘s religion.

He stated this at the third Enugu Diocese Synod held at Saint Bernard's Seminary, Enugu.
Archbishop Kaigama who affirmed that the Catholic Church is committed to this concept through the activities of the Mission and Dialogue department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria ( CSN), whose vision of dialogue is a peaceful world of justice and final home in heaven, added that the mission is to support the existing structures of the Church in their work of evangelization, promote the respect of human dignity, religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence in the world, noting that the goal is to get as many people as possible involved in peace building and conflict resolution.

Continuing, the CBCN President who called for African brand of Christianity and Islam that will embrace the values and virtues, cultures and traditions of the people with the view of making them to love one another in the context of being the image of God, noted that “knowing that not everybody is a jaw, Arab or Roman, we should work hard to discover the African brand of Christianity and Islam,” pointing out that “there was a time when Christians prayed only in Latin but now, Christians are able to pray in the local language”.

Affirming that every religion is influenced by some cultures and traditions, Archbishop Kaigama noted that 'if the African can rediscover the values of hospitality, love of community life, respect for elders and many others, we shall discover that ethnic wars will minimize greatly”. He called on “Christians, Muslims and adherents of African traditional religions not to just be content with the knowledge of their religions but have good knowledge of other religions and their tenets as this will help to bring harmony and peaceful co-existence among all the people irrespective of their religious differences.”

Further, the Archbishop who hinted that 'one can be a true Muslim at the same time be a true African,” stressed that “Nothing should stop us just now from making the promotion of human dignity and value a basis for dialogue! Nothing is difficult for a willing heart. Believe the incredible and you will do the impossible”.

The CBCN Boss who pointed out that “dialogue is not an optional but compulsory activity of the Church,” stressed that “…dialogue among people of different religions is not meant to replace the proclamation of the gospel so also the duty to proclaim the gospel must never pre-empt or negate the work of engaging in dialogue”. While commending the proposed National Dialogue by the federal Government, he noted that “if properly conducted and devoid of the Nigerian spirit of wanting things our way, some solutions to the multidimensional criminality masquerading as Boko Haram, Kidnapping, armed robbery, ombatse and needless other killings, could be found.”

Auchi Diocese Holds Annual Memorial Mass At Ivanokpodi

As part of this year's activity to commemorate the feast of All Souls, the Bishop, Priests, Religious and lay faithful of Auchi Diocese, recently converged at the Diocesan Priestly Cemetery at Ivianokpodi, to mark the 2013 annual memorial mass.

Delivering the homily at the Mass concelebrated with over forty Priests, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr) Gabriel Dunia, noted that the event was an annual event in the Diocese to pray for the souls of the Faithful departed, Stressing that there is the need for all Faithful to always remember members of their families, friends and those around them that have passed on to eternal rest, adding that praying for them will help to see them through to heaven.

Continuing, the Chief shepherd of the diocese who hinted that the memorial mass was also an opportunity for all to reflect on and re-examine their lives, urged them to let their thoughts be made whole, as good and positive thoughts will produce positive desire.

He also Stressed that the vision of human thought is very important, hence they should learn to think well, as it will enable them to see the beauty of God in them and prayed God to give them the spirit to think and act positively in their daily endeavours.

Reiterating the need for all to continue to meditate on things that will enable them attain heaven, the prelate pointed out that faithful should let the love of God overwhelm their hearts instead of having nostalgia feeling and been lonely because of the departure of their family members, friends and neigbours. He further pointed out that living a good Christian life will enable faithful attain eternal happiness in the Lord and prayed God to grant the souls of all the Faithful departed eternal rest in the Lord.

Appreciating all present at the event, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Gimah who thanked the Bishop for making the celebration possible, noted that the memorial mass was an opportunity for Priests and all present to pray for the departed Priests, while thanking the Priests, religious and lay faithful for attending the celebration.

More, Fr. Gimah who equally lauded the performance of the students of Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary, Ivianokpodi for their songs and active participation in the Mass, prayed God to bless them in their academic endervours.

Highpoint of the Celebration was blessing and prayer at the Priest's grave by the Bishop accompanied by Priests present.

Ososo Host Diocesan CWO Seminar

The Catholic community of St .Anne Parish, Ososo recently played host to the Catholic Women organization Diocese of Auchi, as they held their seminar with the theme “Love in Action”.

Delivering the homily at the Mass preceding the event, the Diocesan chaplain of the organization, Rev. Fr. Matins Enegbuma who welcomed the women to the event, appreciated mothers for always coming together in promoting the interest of the Church and enhance love.
He added that the prince of peace who is Jesus Christ, was given birth to by a woman, Stressing that the role of mothers in promoting unity and love cannot be overemphasized.

Continuing, the chaplain urged the women present to use the seminar to enrich their lives and promote harmonous living among themselves and their families and enjoined them to always promote unity among members adding that having love for God and their neigbours is important.
Further, he urged members to shun the act of lying against their neigbours as it will bring the image of those around them to direspute, while wishing them a fruitful seminar.

Welcoming all present to the event shortly after the mass, the Diocese CWO President Lady C.O. Iredia who appreciated the parish administrator Rev.Fr. Philip Omokhekhe for hosting them, noted that the event was geared towards raising fund for the development of the Diocese CWO multipurpose hall and the launching of the Diocesan Magazine, Morning Star and urged all present to continue to support the growth and development of the organization, while commending the chaplain of the group for his interest in all the activities of the group.

Addressing participants at the seminar, the chairman of the occasion Engr. Prince Everristus obaitan who noted that the theme of the seminar “Love in action” was apt in this contemporary time, urged all present to always put their love in action, tasked them to support the activities of the women in realizing their dreams in the diocese and thanked God for the life of the women, for coming together to deliberate on issues that will move the diocese, parishes, mass centers and their stations forward.

Delivering a talk titled “Love in action” Rev. Sr. Angela Balogun who defined love as the feeling towards another person, noted that Jesus' love for mankind cannot be quantified as it was exemplified by Christ on the cross where he died to save mankind, Stressing that it was because of love for man that made Jesus to give his life for the salvation of the world and tasked all women to learn to always show authentic love to those around them.

Giving the vote of thanks, the Diocesan CWO Secretary, Mrs. Catherine Izuagie who on behalf of the Diocese CWO commended the parish Administrator of St. Anne Catholic Church Ososo for hosting the organization, thanked the chaplain of the organization Rev.Fr. Matins Enegbuma for attending the event, while appreciating all the women present for taking part in the seminar.

Other activities featured at the event were presentation and launching of morning star magazine, fundraising for the construction of the Diocesan CWO multipurpose hall among others.

Cathedral Mark Feast of All Saints
… Celebrate All Souls Day

As Catholic faithful all over the world marked the solemnity of All Saints, the Catholic community of Immaculate Conception Cathedral Auchi, also celebrated the feast, in Commemoration of the Church triumphant and to seek for their intercession.

Delivering the homily at the mass, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Gabriel G.Dunia who noted that the feast of All Saints is a call on the Church to prun their life style just as a plant, tasked faithful not to lose sight in observing the doctrines of the church and also, focus on things that will lead them to God

Continuing, the Shepherd of Souls urged all present to live a good Christian life no matter the pressure, noting that hard work and patience will facilitate success in life. He Stressed that there were uncountable men and women who had the virtue of charity, hope and contentment and were rewarded with eternal happiness in the Lord.

The prelate who tasked faithful to always pray through the Saints in Heaven to intercede for them in their time of pains and pressure of the world, enjoined them to always remember to pray for the dead and souls in purgatory, that God will receive them in His bosom, While tasking all present to shun earthly desires and focus on things that will grant them eternal happiness in the Lord.

In a similar development, the Catholic Community of Immaculate Conception has celebrated the feast of All Souls to pray for their deceased loved ones.

In a homily delivered by the Assistant Cathedral Administrator Rev.Fr. Isaac Agabi, who noted that the event was an annual celebration in the Catholic Church, pointed out that it was to remind Faithful of their loved ones who had departed and pray for their Souls to rest in the Lord.

Fr. Agabi hinted that the day was an opportunity for Catholics to re-examine themselves and pray for the dead and those in purgatory, Stressed that purgatory, heaven and hell are real, hence while alive, one should endeavour to serve God in sincerity and truth, adding that serving God Faithfully is a sure way to eternal happiness. He pointed out that the celebration is an important day in the life of the church and enjoined all to always pray for the Souls of their loved ones and the Souls of the faithful departed, to rest in peace.

In his remark, the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai who lauded the efforts of all present for attending the celebration, urged them to always pray for the Souls of their departed family members, friends and all the faithful departed.

Highlight of the Mass was the offering of prayers for the Souls of the dead and all the faithful departed.

Pa. James Anavhe Is Laid To Rest At Fugar
..As Mr. Patrick Momoh Dies at 81

The father of Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe, the assistant administrator of St. Dominic Parish Elele, Pa. James Anavhe, has been laid to rest at Fugar.

Delivering the homily at the funeral Mass, Very Rev. Fr, Charles Nasamu who commiserated with the family on the death of their father, noted that living an exemplary life is what matters, stressing that instead of asking too many questions over the death of their loved ones, they should learn how to appreciate God in the life of the deceased and prayed God to receive his soul.

Continuing, Fr. Nasamu who also eulogized the deceased, described him as a devout and dedicated Catholic, as he was a choir master and tasked all present to always re-examine their lives and rededicate their lives to the service of the Lord to enable them attain heaven and be with the Lord.

Fr. Nasamu noted that Pa. James Anavhe was a confident, truthful and honest man who believed that God is the giver of all his children; hence he gave one of his sons to the service of the Lord. The Priest further urged all present to emulate his virtues, as he lived a good Christian and fulfilled life in the Lord.

Appreciating all present on behalf of the family, one of the sons of the deceased Mr. Anthony Anavhe, commended the Priests presents, Religious and lay faithful for attending the funeral Mass. He described their father as a honest, humble, caring and God fearing man, noting that he will be greatly missed by the family, while praying God to receive his soul into His bosom. The final commendation rite was done by Rev. Fr. Mark Akhibi.

In a similar vein, Mr. Patrick Momoh has passed on at the age of 81years at Fugar.

Delivering the homily at the funeral Mass, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that it is important for all to appreciate the gift God in their lives, stressed that the deceased was a Catholic and had dedicated his life to the service of the Lord.
The Shepherd of souls who reiterated the need for all to live a life worthy of emulation, urged them to continue to re-examine their lives and return to God in humility, which will enable them attain heaven, pointing out that Mr. P. C Momoh was a good Catholic who served God passionately, as he was a hard working man and enjoined all present to always put God first in all their endeavours.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who commiserated with the family of the deceased, urged faithful not to be distracted by death, as it is the transition from material world to eternal glory in the lord's bosom.

The final commendation was done by Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika, while the body was laid to rest at the family compound.

Some of the dignitaries at the funeral Mass were, Elder Mosun Olubere, Chief Mike A. Oghiadomhe; Chief of Staff to the Federal Government, Hon. Emmanuel O. Momoh; Chairman Etsako central L.G. A and others.

Why I called for Amnesty for Kidnappers – Ozekhomhe

Following reactions that trailed his call on the Federal Government to grant Amnesty to kidnappers, Chief (Barr.) Mike Ozekhomhe has made his reasons known for advocating Amnesty for kidnappers, stressing that he was misunderstood by those who criticized his decision.

He stated this during a thanksgiving Mass in appreciation to God for his release at St. Mary Parish, Iviukwe.

Chief Ozekhomhe who noted that vengeance is of the Lord, stressed that he was only acting on the Lord's injunction, as vengeance is of God who knows the best, hence if your enemy is hungry, the Bible commands faithful to give them food to eat, pointing out that he did not curse them but instead, they should be forgiven.

Chief Ozekhomhe who reiterated that he was not the sole target of the kidnappers but ran into them, described the incident as an act of God which would further spur him in discharging his humanitarian service not only to his community, but to the public at large.

The human rights activist who noted that God will never forget His own children, recalled how he was abducted at 3.25pm on August 23rd, 2013, by heavily armed men and how some policemen that were on rescue mission were killed by the men, pointed out that his abduction was one of the major issues in Nigeria that generated much interest and thanked God for saving his life, adding that the thanksgiving Mass was for him to thank God for His mercy.

Chief Ozekhomhe asserted that living a charitable, humble and God fearing life is necessary, stressed that his release was not about pride or privilege, but a divine arrangement by God and urged all present to make it a point of duty to impact on those around them positively.

The Iviukwe born Lawyer who harped on the need for all to learn to forgive those who offended them, stressed that it was only a few weeks after his release that the kidnapping gang was arrested, adding that it was after his release also, that he discovered that he was taken to Kokori in Delta State. While thanking his family members, the Bishop of Auchi Diocese, Priests, Iviukwe community, traditional rulers, NGOs, government, politicians among others for their roles in securing his release, he pledged to continue to defend the common man in the society.

Fr. Obasanmi Mark Anniversary at Eme-Ora
…As Sabogidda - Ora Welcomes Fr. Oghiator

The Parish Administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church Eme-Ora, Rev.Fr. Pius Obasanmi, has marked his 10th Ordination anniversary with thanksgiving at Eme-Ora.

Delivering the homily at the Mass, Rev.Fr. (Prof) John Onimhawo who appreciated God's faithfulness in the life of the celebrant for His protection and love, noted that ten years as a servant of God was not an easy task, as God has been faithful to His chosen one and congratulated him on the journey so far.

Continuing, the homilist hinted that the life of a Priest is based on sacrifice, as they are not materialistic and do not pursue social status like other people in the society, pointing out that they have given all their life time to the service of the Lord and they are to shepherd the people of God.

Fr. Onimhawo who urged all present to always take care of their Priests as they are the apostles of Christ to teach the gospel of Christ, added that taking adequate care of them will propell them to discharge their duties effectively, while urging the celebrant to continue to propagate the gospel of Christ in the community and wished him a fruitful celebration and more years in the Lord's service.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by the celebrant accompanied by memders of his family, friends, parishioners and well wishers.

In another development, the Catholic Community of St. Theresa Catholic Church Sabogidda-Ora, an out station of St. Joseph Parish, Eme-Ora, has welcomed Rev. Fr. Godswill Oghiator as the Rector of the out station.

Welcoming the priest to Sabogidda-Ora, Rev. Fr. James Anelu who appreciated God for making it possible for the Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia to post the Priest to Sabogidda-Ora, wished him a faithful stay and urged faithful to continue to co-operate effectively towards the growth of the Church.

Speaking on behalf of the parishioners, Pa Christopher Ikhiadero who appreciated the Bishop for posting a priest to their Church, expressed determination to work co-operatively with the priest to ensure effective growth of the Church and prayed God to grant him a faithful stay, while noting that it would further promote evangelization of Sabogidda-Ora.

Agenebode Holds 2013 Adult Harvest

The Catholic Community of Sacred Heart Parish, Agenebode has marked their 2013 adult harvest thanksgiving in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest.

Delivering the homily at the Mass concelebrated with Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia; Assistant Parish administrator, Rev. Fr. John Aligamhe; Rector, Sacred Heart College, Agenebode and Rev. Fr. Sylvester Atashie; Parish administrator, St Thomas Aquinas, Ivioghe, the Parish administrator, Rev. Fr. Silas Bobokhai, noted that giving thanks to God was necessary at all time and stressed that giving thanks to God is an acknowledgement of God's favours and blessings.

Continuing, Fr. Bobokhai who welcomed all present to the occasion, affirmed that God has been faithful, hence they should endeavour to appreciate Him with what they have, as He does not abandon a faithful servant and prayed God to bless them abundantly in the upcoming year, while soliciting the support of all present towards the growth and development of the Parish.

Appreciating guests for attending the event, the harvest planning Committee Chairman Mr. Richard Agiomoh who thanked the Parish administrator and his Assistant for giving them the opportunity to serve in the 2013 harvest planning Committee, solicited the co-operation and support of guests to enable them complete the ongoing projects in the Parish and prayed God to bless them.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by Parishioners with their gift items to the altar in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest.

Ogbona Mark Adult Harvest Thanksgiving

St John the Baptist Catholic church, Ogbona has recently marked their 2013 annual adult harvest thanksgiving tagged “Harvest of Divine Favour”.

Delivering the homily at the mass concelebrated with Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe, and Valentine Anaweokhai, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oshiokede who noted that harvest is an opportunity for faithful to appreciate God for His favour, love and blessings, affirmed that harvest thanksgiving is like a key which opens and closes doors and urged faithful to take it seriously, as it will attract more blessings for them.

Continuing, Fr. Oshiokede enjoined all present to always give like Abel in the Bible who gave God his best produce and frowned at the attitude of faithful who often embark on the celebration with levity and prayed God to give them the grace to always give their best to Him.

In his remark, the parish Administrator Rev. Fr Francis Ikhianosimhe who appreciated the Priests present for coming to celebrate with the parish, commended dignitaries, friends, well wishers and parishioners for attending the celebration and prayed God to replenish their purses in a thousand fold.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by individuals, groups, families, and societies to the altar.

Jattu Marks Adult Harvest Thanksgiving
...Elects New CMO Executive

Faithful of St. Philip-Neri Catholic Church, Jattu have joined their counterparts in the Diocese to thank God for His mercies and favours, as they marked their 2013 Adult harvest thanksgiving/bazaar.

Delivering the homily at the Mass, the Parish Administrator Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, welcomed guests and Parishioners to the celebration and appreciated God for giving them the opportunity to be part of the 2013 adult harvest thanksgiving.

Fr. Omunagbe who implored all present to endeavour to always assist their neigbours who are in need, stressed that givers never lack, as God will always provide for those who give to others in sincerity. He enjoined all present to put God first in whatever they are doing in life, as He is the owner of their lives and no one can succeed without Him.

The homilist who reiterated the need for faithful to be conscious of all that God has done in their lives, advised that they should not hesitate to run to God for help, as they were created in the image and likeness of God who is willing to meet them at the point of their needs. He further commended Hon. and Mrs. Philip Shaibu, the Majority leader, Edo State House of Assembly and other dignitaries present for coming to celebrate with them, while thanking Parishioners for their support and contribution towards the development of the Church and prayed God to bless them.
In his remarks, Hon. Philip Shaibu who congratulated the Parish administrator Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe and Parishioners on the success of the 2013 harvest, lauded the Parish administrator's effort towards the development of the Parish and pledged his continuous support towards the growth of the Parish.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by individuals, lay apostolate groups and all present in appreciation to God for the blessings bestowed on them in 2013.

In another development, the Catholic Men Organization (CMO) Jattu Parish has elected a new executive to run their affairs for the next three years.

In his acceptance speech, the newly elected Chairman Sir John Omozegbai who commended the men of the Parish for participating actively in the election process, appreciated them for giving him and his executive the opportunity to serve and pledged their readiness to work co-operatively with members of the CMO to enable them have a more viable, functional and well organized CMO, while urging members to co-operate with the new executive to enable them realize their goals for the next three years.

Some of the members of the new executive council include; Sir John Omozegbai; Chairman, Chief Benson Igiata; 1st Vice Chairman, Mr. Philip Oshiokpekhai; 2nd Vice Chairman, Mr. David Omokhunu; Secretary, Mr. Henry Ogirri; Assistant Secretary and Mr. Moses Ikirodah; Financial Secretary.

Other members of the new executive were Mr. Moses Omoti; Assistant Financial Secretary, Mr. Luke Igiemhe; Treasurer, Mr. Anika Festus; PRO I, Catechist Gabriel Obogai; PRO II, Mr. Anthony Oshiokpehai; Provost and Barrister Pius Omogbai as the Legal Adviser.

St. Theresa Fugar Celebrates Harvest Thanksgiving
…As Egbetua mark Children/Youth Harvest Thanksgiving

St. Theresa Catholic Church Fugar, has marked their 2013 Annual Adult Harvest thanksgiving tagged “harvest of divine favour”.

Giving the homily at the Eucharistic celebration, the Parish administrator Rev. Fr. Gregory Ogbenika, noted that no one can count the blessings bestowed on them by God, hence they should appreciate Him for His abundant favours in the year 2013 and pray for a faithful 2014, adding that being alive was enough for all to give glory to God, as it was not because they were too holy, but owing to God's infinite mercies.

Continuing, Fr. Ogbenika hinted that the event was also an opportunity for faithful to thank God for the successful Church building project, lauded the effort of all who contributed to the project and enjoined all to continue to sacrifice their time, resources and gifts to the work of God, so as to be richly blessed.

The Priest who urged all present to put all their difficulties and challenges at the feet of Jesus, assured them that God will take care of their difficulties and prayed for a successful 2014.

Appreciating all present for participating activitely in the 2013 adult harvest, the harvest committee Chairman Chief Mathias Lawani Agor, thanked the Parish administrator and Parishioners for giving them the opportunity to serve and urged all present to donate generously towards the successful completion of the Church building project.

On his part, the Chairman of the harvest Pastor Ben Omonia who was represented by Chief Anthony Omonia, expressed happiness for being a part of the 2013 harvest thanksgiving and urged all present to donate generously towards the growth and development of the Parish.

Other dignitaries present at the Mass were Mr. Stanley Amuchies, Mr. Justin Osogbo, Chief James Imoede, Sir and Lady Augustine Gilbah, Angelina Oputteh, Sir ABS Nasamu, Chief Jim Okhuofu among others.

In a similar development, St. Patrick Catholic Church Egbetua, one of the Out Stations of St. Anne Parish Ososo, has also celebrated their 2013 Children/Youth harvest thanksgiving.

Delivering the homily at the Mass, the Parish administrator, Rev. Fr. Philip Omokhekhe welcomed all present and thanked God for giving them the privilege to celebrate with the Children and Youth.

Continuing, Fr. Omokhekhe who noted that it is always good to show appreciation to God, stressed that it is not by mistake that they are alive, hence they should appreciate God for all He has been doing in their lives and the lives of their Children, adding that as they celebrate 2013 harvest, they should give to God with generous hearts as they will be richly blessed.

Also, Fr. Omokhekhe advised the Children/Youth to shun every evil that is capable of hindering their future ambition and prayed for all parents, children/youth that God would bless them and make good them children to their families and societies in general.

Highpoints of the celebration was a thanksgiving processions to the altar by the children, youths and various lay apostolate groups.

Fr. Obasanmi's Mother is Laid to Rest at Imoga

Mrs. Regina Idowu Obasanmi, the mother of Rev. Fr. Pius Obasanmi, the Parish Administrator, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Eme-Ora who passed on to external glory recently, has been committed to mother earth at Imoga.

Rev. Fr. Anselm Jimoh in his homily at the funeral Mass held at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Imoga an Out Station of Ibillo Parish, noted that the only way one can attain eternal life and meet God is through death, stressing that death is the gateway to pass on to eternal rest and no one can avoid it. He noted that the question which should be paramount in the hearts of all should be when and how death will come, hence all faithful should allow the spirit of God to direct them and live a life that will enable them attain eternal happiness in the Lord.

Continuing Fr. Jimoh who tasked faithful to echew any act that will deprive them from receiving eternal happiness in the Lord, hinted that living a humble and peaceful life was necessary for all present, describing the deceased as a dedicated Catholic who loved God, as she was a very peaceful, caring, loving and faithful woman.

Further, the homilist enjoined all present to live lives worthy of emulation and be remembered for exemplary qualities they have set, tasking them to always pray for the souls of all the faithful departed. While stressing that they should endeavour to re-examine their lives always and redirect their footsteps by turning to Christ who is the Saviour of the world, He commiserated with the Obasami's family over the death of their mother and prayed God to receive her soul into His bosom.

In his remarks, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who commiserated with the family over the death of their mother, described the deceased as a lover of peace who gave her best to the service of God and urged the children to be consoled with the hope of resurrection on the last day in Christ Jesus.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who noted that Mrs. Obasami was a selfless woman, tasked all present to endeavour to be close to God at all time, adding that living a good and quality life is very essential to all to enable them enjoy the joy of eternal happiness in the Lord and prayed God to receive the soul of Mrs. Obasami in His bosom.

Commending all present on behalf of the family for attending their mother's funeral, one of the Sons of the deceased Rev. Fr. Pius Obasami who appreciated God for the exemplary and quality life lived by his mother, hinted that she was a mother of all who was ready to accommodate all without discrimination and prayed God to receive her soul.

Further, Fr. Obasami who lauded the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia for attending the ceremony, praised the efforts of the Priests, Religious, Parishioners , lay faithful and all present for honouring their mother and prayed God to bless them.

The body of the deceased was later committed to mother earth at the Church Cementary, Imoga.

Ozekhomhe Thanks God At Iviukwe

A Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhomhe, (SAN) has recently thanked God at St. Mary Catholic Church, Iviukwe, for his safe return from the hands of his abductors.

Delivering the homily at the Eucharistic Celebration, the Chief Shepherd of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that whatever God allows is for His glory either good or bad, stressed that Mary and Martha were sad that Jesus did not come early when their brother Lazarus passed away, however, Jesus raised Lazarus after four days in the grave.

The Shepherd of Souls who hinted that the thanksgiving celebration was in appreciation to God for sparing Chief Ozekhomhe's life, as God has turned the sorrows that would have overwhelmed them all to peace and joy. He noted that the celebration was not in revenge of the activities of the kidnappers, but to thank God for His love in the life of Chief Ozekhomhe, pointing out that his abduction was a prove that God is in control of the life of a faithful servant and He alone knows when to take it.

Continuing, the Prelate who hinted that God was in control during and after his adoption, stressed that those who can endure in Christ will rejoice at the end and become friends of God, also affirmed that the celebration was an opportunity for the celebrant to offer all the sorrows that would have befallen him and his family to God, as it is only God that can either make or mar anyone.

Further, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who tasked all present to shun envy and jealously of their neigbour who has more than them, enjoined all not to do things according to their own perspective, but should rather, seek the face of God in whatever they do, also enjoined all present to surrender all their positions, wealth and privileges to God.

Reiterating the need for youth to eschew any act that will bring them to disrepute, the homilist hinted that when children are misdirected, they will take to the wrong way, noting that the problem of unemployment should not spur them to resort to kidnapping, arm robbery, terrorism among other vices and called on parents to teach their children the path of God, as misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what they are supposed to learn from the family can make them to see society as their enemy thereby taking to arms.

Speaking on the need for the government to promote technical skills in the nation's educational system, the Bishop decried the level of poor infrastructure in the nation's educational system and urged government to go back to promoting technical education instead of promoting oil and gas where job is very few. While enjoining Nigerian leaders to always seek the wisdom of God, as without the wisdom of God, their struggles will end in nothingness. Bishop Dunia pointed out that God has put all it takes in them to be well directed and prayed God to grant all present the spirit of humility.

Appreciating God in the life of the human rights activist, a two time Edo State Governorship aspirant, Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon, described Chief Ozekhomhe, as a bigger brother who is always willing to defend the poor and prayed God to continue to protect him and his family.

Commending all present for attending the celebration, the celebrant Chief Mike Ozekhomhe who expressed his determination to continue to promote the interest of the poor and under privileged in the society, thanked God for sparing his life, his son's and his friend is who were abducted few days after he was abducted. He also thanked the Bishop of Auchi Diocese for mobilizing the faithful of Iviukwe to pray for him during his captivity and commended Iviukwe Community, friends, religious leaders and all who supported him during his ordeal and prayed God to bless them.

Dignitaries present at the celebration were royal fathers, friends, politicians, Priests, Religious, Knights and Ladies of St. Mulumba among others.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by the celebrant accompanied by family, friends, parishioners, Knights and Ladies of St. Mulumba and well wishers.

JDPC Assesses Good Governance Project In Owan East

Following the sensitization on good governance project embarked on by Justice Development and peace Commission (JDPC), Catholic Diocese of Auchi earlier in 2013 in Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State, the Commission has commenced the assessment of some of the projects executed by the council chairman, Barrister Jimoh Ijegbai.

Addressing all present at the programme, JDPC director, Rev Fr. Paul Inanoremhe who appreciated all present for attending the meeting, noted that some of the projects inspected by the group was an indication that things were improving in the community and expressed determination that JDPC will continue to monitor projects been executed by the council chairman and commended the council boss for executing projects that will impact positively on the people.

Continuing, the JDPC Director who urged the chairman to continue to work in line with his manifestoes, urged participants to be free in making their demands known to the organization and assured them of JDPC's willingness of promoting development in the Diocese.

Commending the council chairman for the tremendous development in the LGA within his short time in office, the Head mistress Uanhumi primary school Emai Afuze, Mrs.D.A. Areguaime and the Head Mistress of Okpokhumi primary school, Mrs. E.A. Oise, expressed happiness on the ongoing projects in their schools, stressing that their pupils are happy learning under a conducive environment and promised to effectively utilize the facilities provided by the council boss.

Appreciating JDPC for embarking on such projects of encouraging Grassroots development, Chief Ohiobumu Eddy and Mr. A.O Irerua who noted that JDPC was in their community during campaign for LGA election to take note of the various political party manifestoes, lauded the organization's determination in promoting development in Auchi Diocese and commended their willingness in ensuring that the dividends of democracy is delivered to the people.

Continuing, the duo urged the Commission not to relent in discharging their Godly duty of promoting grassroots development, while thanking the council chairman for his developmental drive in their community and urged him to do more in terms of provision of portable water, drainages, markets, roads, schools among others and wished him a fruitful dispensation.

Among the projects site visited by JDPC was Uanhumi primary school, Okpokhumi primary school and major drain projects in Afuze among others.

Agenebode Holds 2013 Adult Harvest

The Catholic Community of Sacred Heart Parish, Agenebode has marked their 2013 adult harvest thanksgiving in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest.

Delivering the homily at the Mass concelebrated with Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia; Assistant Parish administrator, Rev. Fr. John Aligamhe; Rector, Sacred Heart College, Agenebode and Rev. Fr. Sylvester Atashie; Parish administrator, St Thomas Aquinas, Ivioghe, the Parish administrator, Rev. Fr. Silas Bobokhai, noted that giving thanks to God was necessary at all time and stressed that giving thanks to God is an acknowledgement of God's favours and blessings.

Continuing, Fr. Bobokhai who welcomed all present to the occasion, affirmed that God has been faithful, hence they should endeavour to appreciate Him with what they have, as He does not abandon a faithful servant and prayed God to bless them abundantly in the upcoming year, while soliciting the support of all present towards the growth and development of the Parish.

Appreciating guests for attending the event, the harvest planning Committee Chairman Mr. Richard Agiomoh who thanked the Parish administrator and his Assistant for giving them the opportunity to serve in the 2013 harvest planning Committee, solicited the co-operation and support of guests to enable them complete the ongoing projects in the Parish and prayed God to bless them.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by Parishioners with their gift items to the altar in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest.

Directors of Social Communications Hold Conference at Abakaliki

The Catholic Diocese Directors of Social Communications, have held their annual conference at Bishop MCGettrick Pastoral Center, opposite Bishops House, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

In the keynote address titled “Effective Communication and Nation Building”, delivered by the chairman, communication directorate of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, appreciated the Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese, Most Rev (Dr.) Michael Okoro for hosting the communications directors and commended all present for attending the conference.

Bishop Badejo who noted that communication is sharing be it linear, interpersonal, organizational, circular or symbolic, depend on the paradigm in use and a number of other factors, stressed that “we can however safely say that all religions, especially Christianity, are essentially about Communication” adding that 'if…. Jesus Christ is accepted as the perfect Communicator, then all effective Communication must respond to certain ideals that characterized his person, life, teachings and methods.”

The chairman communication directorate of CBCN, pointed out that “the concept of nation building should draw this assembly to explore those ideals that a nation which wishes to develop ought to hold dear, namely; Justice, human rights, Women empowerment, children rights, the rule of law and so on to mention just a few.”

Continuing, the Bishop tasked directors of communications never to forget or ignore the age-tested wisdom that charity begins at home, noting that “do not get carried away with the euphoria of concern for the nation as to forget your primary constituency or assignment which is to enhance and optimize pastoral Communication”, stressing that “Ironically, when church communication is optimized, those who benefit from it are the same people who will influence the building of the nation and help to bring about peace,” while urging all diocese Communications Directors to work in close collaboration with the Directorate of Communication of Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), adding that “it is meant to serve and project your voice while enriching your perspectives.”

Speaking on a paper titled 'Information Management In Crisis Situations. The task before Communications Directors” Rev Fr.Felix-Uche Akam pointed out that “peace is what most people want though the history of man has been history of wars,” stressing that “from time immemorial, man has been locked up in perennial struggles of either to keep add or recover. This struggle is the cause of war.”

According to the resource person, the power of the media lies in agenda setting role, with double -edged- sword capacity, “the media can be agents of destruction and reconstruction hence, the use of media calls for caution especially in socially charged situations,” affirming that “the media are most powerful tributary flowing into the great river of global life with considerable change in the conduct of human affairs… The media are stimuli that invoke powerful responses in the society producing intended and unintended social effects from their recipients”.

Speaking on the media arrogance and its social effects, Fr.Akam reiterated that “the media are not immune to abuses. Journalists are not always motivated by the interest of the common good, penchant for sensationalism and popularity, personal allegiances and prejudices, sympathies and aversions can influence their reporting,” stressing that the media are not just regurgitator of information about public affairs, they are also its critics, adding that “in the society, media sensational and baseless reports have stirred up violent emotions leading to violence and loss of lives and property.”

Emphasizing on the need for responsible use of the media and ethics that should guide the profession, the resource person hinted that telling honest truth with prudence, sincerity and fairness, fidelity to speed and accuracy and simplicity in creativity should guide journalists in the discharge of their duty, affirming that “information management in conflict situation should always subject production to justice and integrity of judgment trying to represent each group fairly,” noted that “the practice of putting fact without judging its implication has to be revisited. Worse still, many media practitioners in Nigeria put market first before people, business consequence before public safety, religions before nationality and parochial interest before general good”.

Fr. Akam reiterated that “every profession is an opportunity to bear witness. Our call as information managers is at once an opportunity to use media to prepare people to receive message of peace,” stressing that “…information management requires full knowledge of events and its consequences before letting facts out to a waiting public.
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