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NIGERIA AT 51: TIME FOR SOBER REFLECTION
On October 1st 1960, Nigeria gained her Independence from the British Colonial Government. At Independence, the atmosphere was convivial as Nigerians from all walks of life, religions and tribes were united and happy, as the problem of foreign domination was eliminated and the new nation was poised for self rule. Also, expectations for the new government to deliver were high, as the country was set to join the league of Nations for political development.

More, the level of patriotism was high, the slogan of “One Nigeria” was held dear and its meaning rang deep in the hearts of all. Nigerians strongly believed it, worked earnestly towards it and lives were lost to sustain it. Everyone was their brother's keeper with a common focus, destiny and zeal to make the nation's economy viable and vibrant, the nation, a safe place for all.

Sadly, today, the reverse is the case. Fifty One years after, Nigeria is yet to find her feet as she is bedeviled with problems of insecurity, unemployment, armed robbery, kidnap/abductions, bombings and a total collapse of all the sectors of the economy.

However, despite all these catalogue of woes, THE PROMISE believes that a new and better Nigerian can be achieved if only we put aside our political and religious sentiments, roll up our sleeves and set to work for the nation by contributing our quotas no matter how little.

Also, the government has a huge part to play in restoring the lost glory of this great nation. First, they should at all levels, desist from playing lips service to the problem of power generation and insecurity especially the Boko-Haram menace threatening to split the nation instead of earmarking whooping sums of money for fanfare, it should be channeled to equipping our security outfits with the necessary wherewithal to curb insecurity issues as well as providing electricity for the people. This will make themselves reliant and depend less on government for non-existent white collar jobs.

Above all, we enjoin our separated brothers to endeavour to make prayers for the nation just as we of the Catholic faith are presently doing, believing that through the intercession of Mother Mary, we will overcome our trials and match on to becoming a great and indivisible nation bound by a common destiny and goal.

Happy Independence Nigeria!
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The Obligatory Duty Of The Disciple Of Christ
Homily delivered by the Most Rev. Gabriel Ghieakhomo Dunia, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi on the occasion of the Priestly Ordination of his five Deacons for the year 2011 in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Church, Auchi on the 24th of September, 2011.

The carrying of the cross and following Christ daily is the obligatory duty of the disciple of Christ. This is what Jesus Christ himself tells us clearly in various passages of the synoptic Gospel; that is, in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which present the events of Christ's life from a similar point of view as follows: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24; cf Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23), “Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

The cross which is primarily the instrument of the sacrificial suffering and death of Christ for the redemption of the world is the principal symbol of the Christian faith. In and through the cross Christ won the eternal victory over death once and for all. With such victory in eternum the glorious exaltation of Christ, both in heaven and earth, was given birth to, for us to see and witness for ever. I believe that it is for this reason Andrew Crete tells us that “the cross is the glory and exaltation of Christ”. Anybody who must embrace the vocation of being a disciple of Christ, can neither do that authentically nor hope to win life if he has not first been baptized with the cross, as it were, into Christ. So, the cross is sine qua non for the required victory over suffering and death and the consequent being made worthy of the crown of the life of the glorious exaltation in Christ.

In our day many, knowingly and many others still unknowingly, are deceived into thinking and believing that salvation can be attained without the cross. So, they pretend to cleverly avoid anything that has something to do with the cross. This kind of way of pursuing salvation is most unfortunate. It is worrisome the more when one finds that not even our ordained and consecrated persons are left out of this delusion.

On a day such as this when our five beloved sons are being raised to the order of priesthood of Christ in the catholic church, it should be quite appropriate to look inward restate and examine, at least, some of the basic virtues and divine gifts which every disciple of Christ should pray for and dispose himself to receive if he must be able to carry the cross and truly follow the footsteps of Christ. It is right and fitting for every disciple of Jesus Christ to pray earnestly, first, for the virtue of humility, among all other virtues such as obedience, generosity, chastity, meekness, temperance, charity, diligence and prudence. He must in the same way, pray fervently for the gift of wisdom among all other gifts of the Holy Spirit such as understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

Yes, humility is the virtue with which one thinks and acts most gratefully and admirably within the limits of one's worth in relationships with God and neighbour. Humility is simply, “I am what I am only because of the mercy of God”. It governs the entire relationships to God and neighbour. Humility is right the basis or fertile soil in which all other virtues and gifts are sowed, nurtured and sustained. In and with humility the eternal word of God freely and graciously condescended to assume poor human nature, willingly allowed himself to be exiled, persecuted, suffered and put to death in that poor human nature in order to liberate and redeem the same. It is in this way Christ came, lived and died for the salvation of the world. So, “make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God did not count equality with God, something to be grasped. But he emptied himself taking the form of a slave becoming as human being are and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this [reason] God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names, so that all beings in heaven, on earth and in the underworld should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father”. (Philippians 2: 5-11).

It is the authentic teaching of Jesus Christ that: “the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” and that, “anyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and anyone who humbles himself shall be exalted (Matt. 18: 4 and 23: 12) respectively.

What is more the true disciple of Jesus Christ must fervently seek and pray for the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is also the basis or the fertile soil in which all other gifts of the Holy Spirit can be sowed, nurtured and sustained for the purpose of our salvation and the glory of God. It is the perfection of knowledge and understanding, enabling the just man to judge all things according to divine standards. In wisdom all things: our thoughts, our actions and doings are done in perfection. “How countless are your works O Lord, in wisdom you made them all” (Psalm 104:24).

My dear sons, you have come forward to be ordained priests for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I earnestly urge you to pray for the virtue of humility if you truly wish and hope to be able to keep and live the promises you are about to make before God and man which constitute the proof of your faithfully carrying the cross and following Jesus as true disciples. Shun pride, for pride devastates the Christian character; just as humility, builds up the Christian character, or rather as it is “an absolute necessary prerequisite and the first of the virtues to the extent that it removes the greater obstacles to faith, upon which all [others] rests”. In the same way, I earnestly urge you to pray for the gift of wisdom, for in the wisdom of God you will be able to live, think and act “more in accordance with the mind of God than a trained mind which lacks the gift of wisdom”.
May you in humility and wisdom of God stand by the cross like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary of Magdala who stood near the cross of Jesus even at the moment of death and beyond (John 19:25). Amen.
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Fraternal Love: The New Commandment
» By Rev. Fr. Dr. Anselm Jimoh
Love is the central theme of the New Testament. Its importance is underlined when Jesus in his pre-passion discourse with his disciples specifically said; “Now I give you a new commandment: love one another … by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35). The act of love was practically displayed by Jesus prior to the issuance of this new commandment. He the Lord and Master, putting aside all the paraphernalia of his position did what only the lowest slaves do for their Jewish masters, for his disciples; he washed their feet. Why did he do it? According to him, “You call me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also must wash one another's feet. I have just given you an example that as I have done, you also may do.” (Jn 13:13-15). Thus, Jesus not only issued a new commandment but went the extra mile to teach his disciples how best to observe the commandment and more importantly, making it abundantly clear that it is a command that is practicable; a commandment that our human and earthly positions and status do not exempt us from but in fact, our earthly status make it imperative upon us to carry out.

Let us be a little more critical and detailed about the entire scenario so as to draw from its fullness the richness of this teaching. Jesus began by (i) getting up, (ii) removed his garment, (iii) took a towel and wrapped it around his waist, (iv) poured water into a basin and began to wash and (v) wiped the feet of his disciples.

'Getting up' was a conscious and deliberate effort that is best understood in the context of the story of the prodigal son. (Lk.15:11-32). The prodigal son said “I will get up and go to my father…” (Lk.15:18). He did not just wish to go to the father, nor did he just think about it, he decided and did it. The fallout was that reconciliation took place. It was not a thing that happened by chance. In the same vein, it did not just suddenly occur to Jesus to wash the feet of his disciples; he had thought about it and made up his mind to do it as an example for his disciples to follow. The meaning of this for us is that our love for one another should not be a product of chance, but some deliberate, conscious act of friendship towards one another.

Apart from getting up, Jesus properly and positively disposed himself with his next action. He removed his garment. In other words, he shed himself of what could constitute an obstacle to what he wanted to do. The Jewish outer garment, which Jesus most probably would be wearing, is a long flowing garment which is often tied to the body at the waist with a girdle to enable the Jewish man walk freely. Such a garment will definitely not allow Jesus to bend down to wash the feet of his disciples, so to effectively wash their feet, he needed to do away with the garment first, so he removed the garment. Jesus undid what will undo what he wanted to do. We can also view it as Jesus putting aside his Lordship and mastership so as to assume the position of the servant. Let us draw an analogy with the father and husband of the house who wants to do the dishes, he will not go into the kitchen with his suit or agbada, he would most likely pull off these and put on a T-shirt and short. The meaning of this is that we need to put aside from our lives everything that will constitute obstacles to our practice of brotherly love. These may include our social and political position, our economic/financial status, our academic qualifications, etc. they can also include our personal pride, principles and policies, especially those that make us feel better and superior to others. If we do not put these aside, we cannot truly love one another in the sense Jesus has commanded us to.

Going back to the analogy of the father and husband who want to do the dishes, when he gets into the kitchen, he most likely will put on the apron and wear the plastic gloves for doing the dishes, as the case may be. This was precisely what Jesus did. After removing his garment, he wrapped the towel around his waist and poured water into the basin. Meaning that after Jesus had removed the possible obstacle to what he wanted to do; he armed himself with the basic necessities for what he wanted to do.

This idea takes us to a salient point that we often do not consider when we reflect on the new commandment as Jesus puts it. Why a new commandment? Are the Ten Commandments outdated or needed to be revised or perhaps a new one needed to be added to make them eleven? What is really new in the new commandment? In the light of Matt. 22:37 where Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is love and went on to say in v.38 that the entire law and prophets rest on this commandment, we understand that the command to love is not a new commandment as such, but a new approach to the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were expressed negatively in terms of what we should not do but Jesus re-expressed them positively in terms of what we should do. This implies that it is not enough to avoid doing what is wrong; we should in fact do what is right. So it is not what we did not do that matters, but what we have done. Common sense in fact shows that what we did not do does not necessarily translate as what we have done, but what we have done necessarily eliminates what we have not done.

From the foregoing analysis, let us consider what Jesus did by wrapping the towel around his waist as what he has done to practice love. He not only removed the obstacle of the garment, he now armed himself with the tools for what he wanted to do. Therefore, when we have casted off the obstacles to love in our lives, we need to arm ourselves with the necessary tools to practice love. What is the tool for love? The tool for love is the Christian heart that sees all others as our brothers and sisters; creatures of the same one God almighty who has made us in His image and likeness (Gen.1:26-27) irrespective of our various physical looks and social, economic and political status and differences in this world.

Lastly, Jesus ensued that he completed what he started. After washing the feet of his disciples, he wiped them with the towel and explained to them what he has done. Along the line, Simon Peter complained but Jesus would not allow that to deter him. He had to do what he had to do; no distractions like that of Simon Peter will stop him. It is significant to note that from start to finish, Jesus did not ask for the assistance of any of his disciples. He could easily have asked one of them to bring the water and another to wipe the feet after the washing, but the burden of loving your neighbor can never be too much for anyone person to bear. He did it all by himself and at the end the message was simple, direct and crystal clear; “I have given you an example to follow.”

When does love become fraternal or what is fraternal? Fraternal simply means comradeship; something relating to brothers. Fraternal is doing that which is suitable to a brother or that which is brotherly. The term comes from fraternity which is a company of people who regard each other as equals with the same interest.

The call for fraternal love is not new; it dots the Old Testament especially the books of the Law. The Christian human history opens with the jealousy and hatred between two brothers; Cain and Abel that eventually led to murder. (Gen.4:1-8). The relationship between Jacob and Esau was one of deep love despite the issues between them. (cf. Gen.33:3-4). We can also talk about the relationships between Ephraim and Manaseh, between Moses and Aaron, Joseph and his brothers, but by far the most compelling lesson in scripture on fraternal love is the relationship between David and Jonathan which is lucidly described in ISam.1-15.

It is a moving story of two men each in-line for the kingship succession of Israel. They could have hated each other. They could have murdered each other, but they both rose above politics, pragmatism, family succession, reality, motives and aspirations that we experience everyday around us. They overcame their self interest, hatred, jealousy and ego. Jonathan sublimated himself to help establish the Davidic line of kingship from which the Saviour of the world was to be born. While Cain chose to kill Abel so that he will be, Jonathan chose to give way so that David will be. (ISam.18:4ff). From Cain and Abel to David and Jonathan, we see two patterns of brotherly relationships; we see the absence of fraternity in one and the presence of fraternity in the other.

Fraternal love is an imperative not just to foster the bond between brothers and sisters but also a requirement that helps us fulfill our responsibility as light of the world. We have our differences on various issues, society, politics, personal wealth, social affiliations, tribe, etc. have stratified and divided us, yet it has pleased God to bring us together as brother and sisters. We owe each other and we owe God to ensure that this design of God does not break down because of our personal and selfish interest. Fraternal love among us is a collective responsibility we owe one another.
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The Theology Of One Flesh
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
One of the ways we reflect the glory of God and the love that exists in the three persons in one God is through the sacrament of marriage. Marriage is an efficacious sign of Christ's presence (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1613), a revelation of God's mystery and an expression of God's love among humankind. The union of husband and wife signifies the union of the Church with Christ (Eph 5:23-26); and the sanctification of marriage symbolizes the sanctification of the Church. Through the union of persons as male and female we reflect the likeness of God in whose image we were created (Gen 1:27). Thus, in Christian understanding of marriage, a Christian man and woman become one flesh after the exchange of consent. The mutual exchange and acceptance of consent by a Christian man and woman bring about a union that is founded on Christ. This is the sacramentality or nature of Christian marriage. This union with one another and with Christ calls for the self-surrender and sacrifice on the part of the partner. To become one flesh is to think alike (decision). Our thoughts or ideas determine our behavior. This thought or decision is based on God's will, who is essentially part of a Christian marriage. It is faith in God and willingness to search for God's will that will make a man and woman to reason alike (pursuit of common project).

One of the problems in marriage is differences in ideology. Common ideology does not tolerate individual egoism. Christian marriage is built not on individual ideologies but on God's love. God is the source of unity, and not of division. So, individual selfishness must be buried in order that marital love may blossom. The sacramentality of marriage deprives the partners in marriage the right to dispose of marital love or union on their own will. Hence divorce is not permitted in marriage. Love entails unity, not disunity. Since God is the foundation of marital love, there is need for individual relationship with God first before relating with one another. If one cannot relate well with God the creator, then it will be difficult for one to relate with his neighbour. Marriage helps to build a small Christian community where husband and wife exercise a reciprocal and mutual relationship flowing from Christ, who is the head of the Church. The ability to live well in a larger community is cultivated in the family.

In Christian culture man and woman experience the joy of the fullness of personal donation and the fullness of the intersubjective communion of persons in the living out of the sacrament of marriage. It is in this radical giving-in-love that man and woman discover the very essence of their being persons, and hence fulfil the meaning of their existence. In reciprocal communion, man and woman 'become one flesh' by a total giving-in-love one to the other, to the extent of existing for the other. The husband and wife must agree to take each other as one and live in intimate relationship by sharing their lives together till death. The creativity of mutual self-giving is expressed bodily in procreation. The theology of one flesh therefore, is the marital exclusiveness and indissolubility (unity) that exist in marriage. It implies that the spouse be closely united to each other than to their own parents. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen 2: 24) in order to complement each other. Individual selfishness is a great threat to marriage. It is in relationship, that is, sincere giving of oneself that man discovers his true self (Gaudium et Spes n. 24).

The first step therefore to building an authentic marital union is the sacrament of baptism. The sacrament of baptism is a sacrament of faith. It incorporates us into Christ. If marriage partners are to represent the relationship of Christ, then, baptism is a sine qua non. No suitable union can exist between a Christian and non Christian (2 Cor 6:15). We become Christians by identifying with Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism.
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Which Are The Dogmas Of The Church? Part 1
» By Rev. Fr. Stan-William Ede
Last month on this column, the difference between “Doctrine” and “Dogma” was clarified. Specifically, it was stated that a dogma is truth revealed by God, and as such is proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as necessary for belief. A person remains a Catholic in good standing only if he accepts in its entirety the full revelation of the Faith in its integrity. Dogmas because they are divinely revealed cannot change. Dogmas are essential to the Faith. They cannot change. If any dogma is denied by an individual or group of individuals the truth is not diminished by their denial, however, they remove themselves from the Body of Christ, the Church. The deliberate denial of a dogma of the Faith is called heresy.

The different sets of similar questions that precipitated the topic for our last month's discussion all narrow down to this very important question: “Which are the Dogmas of the Church?”

All the dogmas of the Church (Divinely Revealed Truths) have been defined and proclaimed, stage by stage, time after time, some by General Church Councils, others by Papal Declarations, throughout the 2000 years of Catholicism's history. Different theologians and Catholic authors through time have cued all these dogmas from the Magisterium and Catechism of the Catholic Church and have had them published at different times and by different methods. To ease readability and promote understandability, some theologians and authors usually group these dogmas, as many as they are, under some few categories of subject as they relate to one another. Thus we have such categories as: The Unity and Trinity of God; God the Creator; God the Redeemer; God the Sanctifier; The Mother of the Redeemer (BVM); the Doctrine of Grace; the Church, the Sacraments; The Last Things or Consummation of the World (Eschatology); etc.

The foregoing delineation notwithstanding, the dogmas of the Church are generally divided into two groups and presented as such: (1.) Infallibly Defined Dogmas of the Catholic Faith; and (2.) Certain Truths yet to be defined by the Magisterium.

It is pertinent to note that a single publication on this column cannot exhaust all the dogmas, and so we shall have them published part by part through three or four editions. All the editions will however contain threads from each of the two major groups mentioned above.

(A.) Infallibly Defined Dogmas of the Catholic Faith
The Unity and Trinity of God
1. God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things.
2. God's existence is not merely an object of natural rational knowledge, but also an object of supernatural faith.
3. God's Nature is incomprehensible to men.
4. The blessed in Heaven posses an immediate intuitive knowledge of the Divine Essence.
5. The Immediate Vision of God transcends the natural power of cognition of the human soul, and is therefore supernatural.
6. The soul, for the Immediate Vision of God, requires the light of glory.
7. God's Essence is also incomprehensible to the blessed in Heaven.
8. The Divine Attributes are really identical among themselves and with the Divine Essence.
9. God is absolutely perfect.
10. God is actually infinite in every perfection.
11. God is absolutely simple.
12. There is only One God.
13. The One God is, in the ontological sense, The True God.
14. God possesses an infinite power of cognition.
15. God is absolute Veracity.
16. God is absolutely faithful.
17. God is absolute ontological Goodness in Himself and in relation to others.
18. God is absolute Moral Goodness or Holiness.
19. God is absolute Benignity.
20. God is absolutely immutable.
21. God is eternal.
22. God is immense or absolutely immeasurable.
23. God is everywhere present in created space.
24. God's knowledge is infinite.
25. God knows all that is merely possible by the knowledge of simple intelligence (scientia Simplicis Intelligentiae).
26. God knows all real things in the past, the present and the future (Scientia visionis).
27. By knowledge of vision (scientia visionis) God also foresees the free acts of the rational creatures with infallible certainty.
28. God's Divine will is infinite.
29. God loves Himself of necessity, but loves and wills the creation of extra-Divine things, on the other hand, with freedom.
30. God is almighty.
31. God is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth.
32. God is infinitely just.
33. God is infinitely merciful.
34. In God there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Each of the Three Persons possesses the one (numerical) Divine Essence.
35. In God there are two Internal Divine Processions.
36. The Divine Persons, not the Divine Nature, are the subject of the Internal Divine processions (in the active and in the passive sense).
37. The Second Divine Person proceeds from the First Divine Person by Generation, and therefore is related to Him as Son to a Father.
38. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son as from a Single Principle through a Single Spiration.
39. The Holy Spirit does not proceed through generation but through spiration.
40. The Relations in God are really identical with the Divine Nature.
41. The Three Divine Persons are in One Another.
42. All the ad extra Activities of God are common to all Three Persons.
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We Can Live In Peace... The logic of tolerance.
» By Rev. Fr. Leonard O. Anetekhai
There is a saying that holds, “the devil you know is better than the angel you do not know''. Come to think of this little fact critically, you will see that the word tolerance is in a deep sense the meaning of this saying; that is, one can really tolerate even a devil he or she sees, this of course goes a long way to tell us that with tolerance, we can live with a devil and still maintain peace and unity within our given society.
According to Moreno-Riano (2003), tolerance is a fundamental criterion for peace, civility and the exercise of democratic principles, when this is misplaced it becomes a direct invitation to anarchy resulting into religious war, political instability, robbery in the highest form and other vices.
It suggests, according to the UNESCO Declaration on Tolerance, that one is free to adhere to one's own convictions, and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one's views are not to be imposed on others. Tolerance is not the same as agreement or conversion. It is, in many cases, more along the lines of "agreeing to disagree" or accepting that the seemingly foreign beliefs and actions of others are equally as valid as our own.
Thus, except, we consider tolerance to be the deliberate act of an individual or organization in refraining from disapproval, censure or violence against the beliefs of another, despite one's disagreement with those beliefs, we will continue to have crises in our society.
Today, we hear so much call to live a life of peace, but how often do we put them into practice. Christianity as a religion is fast growing with various sects springing forth from every street in the country, but we still see disunity amongst us, not to mention about other sects. It is time for us as Nigerians to realize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, who has no favourite. There should not be an inferior sect or superior sect that knowns it all and it should not be a thing within us that our calling is divine, and others not, because as a matter of fact our daily experience should be treated alike.
The human soul we know is not divided into compartments, that a man can be indifferent in one part of his soul and firmly believing in another. Thus, the existence of a double standard within ourselves, the visible demonstration that none has a monopoly, the habit of impartiality, cannot but dispose men against an unquesting acceptance of tolerance on the other, and this is what should exist amongst Nigerians believing that God is One and Eternal.
The fact that we hail from diverse background cannot be disputed, but as men and women of ideas our diversity and separated ideas should not put a stop to our tolerance, so as to create a religious healthy environment for our children yet unborn.
While tolerance suggests that we can choose to accept or reject differences that we may have the potential to change. We must be tolerant of ideas, beliefs, opinions and lifestyles. Diversity on the other hand depict characteristics of an individual, such as age, gender and race, and cannot possibly be changed and therefore do not call for tolerance in the truest sense of the word, but rather an open mindedness to the value of these differences.
We see, therefore, two challenges. The first is to value, integrate and celebrate those differences that are permanent characteristics of others, those things that we describe as diversity. Second, and no less important, we must attempt to understand and tolerate the beliefs and cultural practices that others choose to express as a means of self-actualization.
Paraphrasing the words of Sheikh Balarabe Dawud, every religious group should remember that the holy books provide the path of tolerance and forgiveness, and every citizen owe it a duty to imbibe these virtues for the good of our society.
Since I attained the age of reason, I can count at least 30 to 31 religious conflicts in Nigeria. But have we leant the lessons of these. We are celebrating 51 years as a nation and counting from the day one of our independence one will record over 200 cases of religious conflicts.
The painful part of it is that in every policy that are made by the ruling government, we do not critically analyse as people of ideas what and what it entails, but we rush into conclusions like 'market women' that there is a religious undertone. Whether inherent in these policies are facts that they tend to favour one sect of religious group or not, we should think and proffer solutions, instead of every newspaper around promoting the said ideas, implanting in the minds of Nigerians both old and young the spirit of violence and conflict. It is from these sources that we propel and promote evil, conflicts and religious unrest in our county, and except we checkmate these tendencies which are fast becoming the order of the day in Nigeria, we will continue to live in fears.
As we remember the labours of our heroes past, it is the obligations of government to promote tolerance in the society by fostering equal treatment and opportunity for all individuals and groups towards greater co-existence of her citizens.
As individuals, we can live in peace and tolerate each other as a nation, when we learn to remove the tribal marks on our faces. Tribal marks is the only obstacle to having a society were peace and unity reign. If we learn to tolerate each other, we can live in peace.

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Alcoholism: A Metaphor Of Addiction (II)
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosime
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOLISM
To begin with, the effects of alcohol differ from one person to the other. What can cause terrible damage for one may not cause any terrible harm for the other. This is the dynamism of the human body. There are many heavy drinker who do not have any major health break down, this is not to mean that over consumption of alcohol does not have adverse effect on the individual. The effects of alcohol ranges from physical, physiological, spiritual to medical damages.

Over indulgence in alcohol first of all, is clearly an income gulper. An alcoholic is never a good income manager as well as a bad planner often as its necessary corollary. Alcoholism we can say therefore, ferment poverty. By historical antecedents, drinkers and alcoholics are often regarded as irresponsible, immoral and weak character. This strength of this accusation lies in the fact that, drinkers are believed to be disposed to violence. Similarly, it is believed that the influence of alcohol could lead one to daring actions he would ordinarily not venture such as rape, assault, spousal violence and even murder. It has not been established however, that intoxication is the direct cause of such actions rather than personality variable and what can be called culturally influenced expectations.

More definitely, intoxication under alcohol impairs perceptual functions. This is often the cause of many road accidents, especially when motorists take the double disadvantage to drive when drunk. Intoxication very often outside of a driving circumstance can lead to drowsiness, inalertness and sometimes to flippancy. People under the influence of alcohol give out vital information without consultation. Closely linked with this is the fact that intoxication weakens the will, and those under this intoxication are hardly in charge of their decisions or could make choices sanely.

Be that as it may, excessive drinking can also cause terrible health disasters. Findings reveal the following prolonged heavy drinking is implicated in a number of serious and potentially fatal health problems, including cirrhosis, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and various cancers. Moreover, both the central and the peripheral nervous systems are damaged by chronic alcohol abuse.
Another ghastly effect of heavy drinking is damage of the heart muscle. This inefficiency can reduce the flow of blood. Also, binge drinkers are prone to hypertension a leading cause to stroke. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal may lead to delirium tremens (DTs), which produces increasing confusion, sleeplessness, depression, and terrifying hallucinations. As this delirium progresses, the hands develop a persistent and uncontrollable shaking that may extend to the head and body. Women who drink excessive amounts of alcohol while pregnant run a high risk of having a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a set of birth defects caused by heavy consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Children with this condition typically have a misproportioned head, facial deformities, mental retardation, and behavioral problems. FAS is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western Hemisphere. This disorder produces more subtle symptoms, including behavioral problems, difficulty paying attention, or the inability to think abstractly.
ALCOHOLISM: ANY SOLUTION?
Alcoholism is more than just heavy drinking. It ruins family life, social engagements, education, work. It is a disease. But it is a curable disease; there are a number of ways one can resolve this problem or cure this disease. The first solution remains the recognition of the fact that, alcoholism seem to wreck a lot of havoc on the individual and personal esteem is dainted and dampened. This is what is called 'Increased awareness' of the issue. Awareness of the consequences could help. This awareness and help usually comes in a gradual process and a path that must be trailed in patience.

Increased awareness is similarly important for the friends and relations of the Alcoholic. Reviving an alcoholic is not a do-it-yourself project. It is more of a project by friends and family members as the sick has practially broken his own strength and support of helping him or herself. Their support is often highly significant in the recovering of the the Alcoholic. The family members must be patient in assisting the Alcoholic. Family members and friends should break the support system that enables their alcoholic to drink. A good way to start is by letting the alcoholic take personal responsibility for the problems and consequences of his or her drinking. This makes the alcoholic face reality. Alcoholics often live in a dream world.

Again, there is the option of rehabilitation. Dyed-in-the-wool Alcoholics need the help of a therapist or a counsellor who would help enter into the particular history of the alcoholic and similarly give counsel that are relevant to the resolution. Family members could equally consult the help of religious leaders for such counsel like priests and other important others in the life of the individual. This counsel must be duly followed up. Dealing effectively with this disease requires new ways of thinking and acting. Family members can benefit greatly from the guidance and support of people who understand. It must similarly be prayed about.
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Catholics in Politics: Roles and Expectations in Nigeria (1)
» By Rev. Fr. Mike Umoh
Introduction
The events of our age has somehow rendered nebulous the term “Christian”. Truly, it is no longer as easy as we suppose to define who a Christian is, especially in relation to the topic before us. For this reason, and in order to avoid the distraction which theologizing or philosophizing on this may lead us to, I crave your indulgence to discuss “Catholics in Politics” instead of “Christians in Politics.” It is necessary to note that the Catholic Church has a repertoire of highly developed teachings, tested and trusted, to guide everyone and especially her children in their engagement in social engineering. In this regard we have inexhaustible resources in the social teachings of the Church as contained in documents like Lumen Gentium, Christi Fideles Laici and Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in political life, to mention a few. Rather than leave it hanging, I have also situated the topic within the context of our nation, Nigeria. Hence what we are discussing here is the roles and expectations of Catholics in the Nigeria polity. I dare to say that the Church's teachings and expectations of of her children would by and large apply not just to every true Christian, but also to every man and woman of goodwill who sincerely desires and seeks a peaceful, just and progressive society.

In examining the roles of Catholics in politics, I use the term “Catholic” from two basic understandings, viz: The Church as an institution on one hand, and the Church as referring to the members on the other hand. The general term “Christian” will mainly apply to Catholics and all those who truly believe in Christ.
By way of approach therefore, I briefly describe the nature of the Church and her mission, and then expose some theoretical framework revealing the mind of the Church on politics and its connection to the mission of the Church. Thereafter, I discuss the political climate in Nigeria and highlight some reasons for political failure. The later part of this paper consists of what the Church as an institution should do, and what her members should do especially within our Nigeria experience. The recommendations at the end, for me, serve as our reference point for discussions towards making resolutions for positive actions.

The Church and Her Mission
The Church is the Mystical body of Christ because as a sacrament of Christ's presence, she continues the work of Jesus in every age and time through her members. It is a communion or community of Christ's believers. Membership of this sacred community is through Baptism. The Apostolates Family Catechism teaches that “The Catholic Church is the community of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, the same sacraments, under the authority of the sovereign Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome, and the bishops in communion with him.” Though there are two basic forms of membership, clergy and laity, all are ordinary members and are directly grafted into Christ. This clarification is necessary especially because the laity have often been considered secondary members of the Church or viewed in some sense as if they share their membership through the clergy. In this vein, John Paul II affirms in Christifideles Laici that “the vocation of the laity does not come by delegation from the hierarchy. It comes from baptism and confirmation and is theirs as members of the Church.”

The primary mission of the Church is to Evangelise. Every member of the Church is called to share in this mission of Christ according to their particular calling. Traditional wisdom and general common sense, with support from the Law of the Church assign specific roles for different members of the Church. The clergy have their particular role while the religious and laity have their roles as well. "The Church's competence in passing moral judgments even in matters political has been traditionally interpreted as pertaining to the clergy. Negatively put, the clergy can teach moral doctrines covering politics but cannot actively involve themselves in partisan politics. In practice, religious men and women are also included in this prohibition." The Church prohibits Clergy and Religious from involvement in partisan politics because they are considered the symbols of unity in the Church community. For them to take an active part in partisan politics, with its wheeling and dealing, compromises, confrontational and adversarial positions, would be to weaken their teaching authority and destroy the unity they represent and protect. (Pastor Bakare's experience confirms the wisdom of the Church).

But certainly lay people have competence in active and direct partisan politics. This general rule is not rigid, because lay people themselves have a teaching role regarding politics, especially in their witnessing to gospel values in the world of politics. This responsibility derives from the Church's duty of proclaiming the Gospel "to all creation" (Mk. 16:15) and "to restore all things under Christ" (Eph. 1:10). In fact it is the duty of every Christian to transform politics by the Gospel. This mission of the Church implies establishing the Kingdom of God even here by working towards making the Christian principles "influence every phase of life, every stratum of society", including the political sphere. But more than just political involvement is the primary importance of the lay faithful being witnesses to the Gospel. “You shall be my witnesses.”(Acts) Pope John Paul II said: "The lay faithful must bear witness to those human and Gospel values that are intimately connected with political activity itself, such as liberty and justice, solidarity, faithful and unselfish dedication for the good of all, a simple lifestyle, and a preferential love for the poor and the least" (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, 42)

This means that whereas the particular role of the clergy is the administration of the Word and Sacrament, and is largely within the ecclesial community, the role of the laity finds a home in the society. Thus it is expected that after the laity have been empowered through teachings and the sacraments, as indicated at the end of the Mass, they are to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” This means that the energy and fruits derived from the Eucharist and other sacraments are to bear transforming fruits of love in the nooks and cranies of the society; wherever and everywhere they may find themselves.
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Our Common Destiny Is Crucial for Promotion of Good Governance - CBCN

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has reaffirmed that Nigeria's common origin and destiny are crucial for the promotion of good governance, describing it as a key to a healthy and virile society that takes good care of its weak and young members.
This statement was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the CBCN'S plenary meeting held recently at Bishop McGetrick Pastoral Centre, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The communiqué which was signed by Archbishop Felix Alaba Job, President and Bishop Alfred Adewale Martins, secretary, explained that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, the differences of race, complexion, language and religion are not necessary while maintaining that the basis for the inviolable rights to life, personal dignity and freedoms guaranteed by the constitutions of countries of the world, is to serve as ethical and moral compass for authentic progress.
Continuing, the shepherds of souls noted that the old division between North, South, East and West hemispheres have increasingly broken down and stressed that communication now enables each region to share in the joys and sorrows of other people, whether white or black, Christians or Moslems.
Also, the statement revealed that “no person or nation is an Island, each one mutually depends on others, should collaborate and exchange with others for greater humanity”. They maintained that the current economic meltdown, political upheavals and social dysfunction are proofs that a world built on selfishness and greed must definitely crumble.
More, the prelates hinted that the life and death of individual has its influence on others and noted that Nigeria had in the past mourned the death of its leaders which shook her polity and added that some of those leaders left good legacies of moral and civic virtues to be emulated.
Further, the statement revealed that no condition of any nation is permanent and asserted that all human shall become God fearing and wiser when they ponder on the fact that all men shall one day render account to God for their lives. They affirmed that through good governance and honest labours, all Nigerians shall contribute in building a nation bound in “true brotherhood, freedom, peace and unity”.
The Bishops pointed out that the authentic practice of religion enables a person to discover God at the depth of common humanity, inviting all to His love and stressed the incentive for inter-religious dialogue and co-operation.
On building up of Nigerian youths, the Bishops averred that they would not relent in fostering the human, spiritual and intellectual development of the youth and charged the Catholic youths to participate actively in the movement for National Youth Day in Abuja come 2012, as it is a means of deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ through the cross and filial love for the Blessed Mother.
Commenting on the 2011 general elections, the shepherds of souls thanked Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC chairman and President Goodluck Jonathan for the improved effort towards free, fair and credible election and prayed that the consolidation of democracy through the electoral process, will be an ongoing task to guarantee the long desired level-playing ground for all contestants both at intra and inter party elections, while urging the president to redeem his promise of improving power supply, security issues, unemployment and bad situation of Nigeria n roads.
Reacting to the present security situation rocking the nation, the prelates pressed that “security remains a very basic need and condition for meaningful development and progress of any nation” and expressed disappointment that the security of human life and property has not received serious attention it deserves.
They frowned at the way innocent lives are being lost through armed robbery, kidnapping, ethno- religious and political conflicts and stressed that “the problem of security in Nigeria is currently been compounded by the escalation of suicide bombing across the nation by a sect identified as Boko-Haram”.
The Bishops expressed dismay with the level of destruction of innocent lives and property at the United Nations building in Abuja, described it as an act of terrorism and prayed for the repose of those who died and speedy recovery for the injured.
The statement advised government on the need to overhaul the security institution and its personnel both at the federal and state level, called on the government to include pro-active intelligence gathering to checkmate nefarious activities and warned government “to beware of undertaking any dialogue or amnesty with unrepentant and faceless criminals and murderers of innocent citizens”.
Continuing, the Bishops expressed grave concern on the gross disparity that exists in the condition of civil service both at the federal and state levels and reaffirmed their belief and commitment to the fact that “Labourerers deserves a just wage”. They noted that the demand for just wage is a moral, political and ethical imperative which should be attended to with urgency and outmost responsibility. The Bishops pointed out that they were encouraged with the efforts of the Federal Government in setting up an high-leveled economic Council charged with transforming economy and providing employment opportunities.
Reacting to the issue of Islamic Banking, the CBCN called on the Federal Government, the legislative, the Central Bank of Nigeria and other drivers of the economy to engage in proper dialogue that can eliminate all areas of tensions and encourage non-interest banking that opens up the economy devoid of any divisive religious trappings.
Also, on the issue of lasting solution to the problem in Niger Delta region, the shepherds of souls tasked government, oil companies and shareholders to implement the United Nations environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland, urged the civil society and the media to monitor and publish the activities of government and multi-national oil companies operating in the region.
The Bishops however expressed their commitment to work assiduously with all stakeholders in resolving peacefully the manifold issues affecting the Niger Delta region and all areas of the country.

Pope Benedict Visits Germany

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has paid his first state visit to Germany recently, as part of his international apostolic mission.
On arrival, the Pope was welcomed by Christian Wulff and Angela- Merkel, the president and chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany respectively, while Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin and Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg Im Berisgau, president of the Germany Bishops' Conference were also on hand to greet the Holy Father.
Giving his address, Pope Benedict remarked that the visit though official, will reinforce the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See. He also added that “I have not come here primary to pursue particular political or economic goals as other statesmen rightly do, but rather to meet people and to speak about God. We are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society, which considers the issue of truth as something of an obstacle in its decision-making and instead, gives priority to utilitarian considerations”.
More, the Bishop of Rome reiterated that there is a need for a binding bases in order for people not to live a “Purely Individualistic way”. While stressing that religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life, His Holiness pointed out that “just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion”. Observing that “These words of the great Bishop and social reformer Wilhelm Von Ketteler, the second centenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year, remains timely”.
Continuing, Pope Benedict hinted that the Federal Republic of Germany has become what it is, owing to “the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another”, adding that “it needs this dynamism, which engages every human sector in order to continue developing now. It needs this in a world which requires a profound cultural renewal and the rediscovery of fundamental values upon which to build a better future”.
Shortly after his address, the Pope had a private meeting with President Wulff and his family and thereafter, traveled to the Germany Episcopal conference (DBK), where he was received by its President Archbishop Robert Zollitsch and other dignitaries.
Also during the visit, Pope Benedict met with representatives of the Muslim community in Germany at the apostolic nunciature in Berlin.
In his remarks, the Holy Father recalled how the presence of Muslim families became a distinguishing mark of the country from 1970's and the importance of constant effort, “not only for peaceful coexistence, but also for the contribution that each can make towards building up the common good in this society”.
Speaking on religion, the Bishop of Rome noted that “many Muslims attribute great importance to the religious dimension of life. At times, this is thought provocative in a society that tends to marginalize religion or at most to assign it a place among the individual's personal choices”.
He added that “The Catholic Church firmly advocates that due recognition be given to the public dimension of religious adherence … care must be taken to guarantee that others are always treated with respect. Mutual respect grows only on the basis of argument on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular, the invaluable dignity of every single person” he added.
More, the Holy Father reiterated that other countries, Germany inclusive, the constitution is a common frame of reference whose judicial content is binding on every citizen, not minding their faith. He further explained that “Naturally, discussion over the best formation of principles like freedom of public worship is vast and open ended, yet it is significant that the basic law expresses them in a way that is still valid today at a distance of over sixty years”.
Further, Pope Benedict XVI underlined the importance of fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims as part of the process of building “a society that differs in many respect from what we brought with us from the past. As believers setting out from our respective convictions, we can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society, such as the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or promotion of greater social justice”.
Speaking to thousands of faithful at Wallfahrtskapelle while celebrating Marian Vespers and the liturgy of the hours, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that the Marian Shrine at Etzelsbach “holds an open door and a place of inner peace” for His inhabitants.
While giving his address, the Pope who considered the pieta conserved in the chapel, noted that “deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and His mother are turned to one another … in Mary's heart, there is room for love that her divine son wants to bestow upon the world”.
The Holy Father who pointed out that it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary that truly enables people to flourish and not the model that modern life so often proposes, added that “with Mary, God has worked for good in everything and He does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world.
Further, the prelate pointed out that “when the Blessed Virgin rescues us from plight”, with a mother's tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, who is so rich in mercy. 'Understand', she seems to say to us, that God, who is the source of all that is good and who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of your life that yields unreservedly and joyfully to His will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise where God is, there is a future…”
Shortly after the celebration, there was the adoration of the Eucharist, final blessing and praying of the “Salve Regina”. Thereafter, the Holy Father left a golden Rosary at the feet of the Virgin as a sign of profound veneration before leaving the chapel.

St Philip Nursery/Primary School Marks 4th Graduation Ceremony

Julius Omokhunu

St. Philip Nursery/Primary and Secondary School, Jattu- Uzairue, recently held its 4th annual end of session/ thanksgiving mass and graduation ceremony to appreciate God for the success recorded in the past year and to bid some students farewell.
The annual event which was held at the school’s premise, kicked off with a mass presided over by Rev. Fr. Richard Enegbuma.
In his address, the Principal/Administrator of the school, Rev. Fr. Innocent Elogie, thanked the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia for his constant and spirited support physically and otherwise to the school.
He stated that the school's mission is to secure, build and establish a conducive teaching/learning environment where children would be educated and trained in the ways and fear of God and pointed out that the school's effort in “maintaining a caring, nurturing environment where every child is trusted to take an active role in his/her development” is borne out of the belief that the school's role is to guide each pupil and student for the future, not just for the moment.
Rev. Fr. Elogie urged the graduates to live out the good values acquired in the school, adding that they should always commit themselves and their endeavours to God.
The Diocesan laity chairman Mr George Umoru who chaired the occasion, thanked the administrator of the school for the excellent performance of both staff and students of the school in the past one year and called on parents to partner with the school for greater achievements. The occasion was also used to reward deserving pupils, students and parents.
Awards were given to various categories of students, including overall best student/pupil in each class, neatest pupil/student, most punctual, most disciplined, most creative and most industrious pupils/students.
Hon. Francis Izuagie and Mrs Queensly Okhumale, received recognition as benefactor and benefactress of the year while Dr. M.D. Oshiomah and Mr Emeka Augustine Maduka were most responsive parents of the year.
Highpoint of the occasion was the presentation of certificates to the graduating students/ pupils.

Eme-Ora Gets New Laity Executive

Godwin Okpeniku

The laity council of St Joseph Parish, Eme-Ora, has recently elected a new executive to run the affairs of the body for a period of three years.
The election which was conducted at the Church premises under the close supervision of the parish priest Rev. Fr. James Anelu, saw the following members emerge successful at the poll; Mr John Imohiosen; Chairman, Mr Jacob Ojo; Vice Chairman I, Mr Jude Obi; Vice Chairman II, Mrs M.N. Uduigwome; Secretary, Mr I feanyi Odo; Assistant Secretary and Mr Martins Oikereh; Financial Secretary. Others were Mr Trafford Okugbe; Treasurer, Mr Sunday Obarien; PRO, Mr Tochukwu Nneji; Provost and Mrs Florence Alabi; Welfare Officer.
In his acceptance speech, the newly elected chairman Mr John Imohiosen on behalf of the new executive members, thanked God for the opportunity given them to serve in the Lord's Vineyard. He appreciated the parish priest Rev. Fr. James Anelu for ensuring a hitch free election and also commended the parishioners of the Church for the trust and confidence they have on him and members of the executive.
Continuing, Mr Imohiosen pledged their commitment to work for the glory of God and for the benefit of the parishioners, adding that with God that strengthens them, they would be able to meet the expectations of all. He called on the parishioners to co-operate with them to enable the new executive achieve their desired goals in the parish.
Speaking during the inauguration of the new executive, the parish priest Rev. Fr. James Anelu, said that their call to serve as leaders of the laity in the parish was from God and not by man. He urged them to perform their duties without fear or favour and prayed that God would be with them.
The priest congratulated them and charged them to embraced peace among them. He also advised them to endeavour bridge communication gap among members and promised to assist the body whenever the need arises.
Fr. Anelu called on the parishioners to support the parish laity to enable them actualize their set goals for physical and spiritual development of the Church.

Bishop Dunia Lays Church Foundation At Dagbala

Richard Olori

The Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese His Lordship Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has recently laid the foundation stone for the new Church building of Holy Angels Mass Centre, Dagbala.
The shepherd of souls who was received at the Church premises by the Rector of the Mass Centre, Rev. Fr. Moses Afokhome and Catholic faithful in the community was led round the cemmentary and the building site by the priest in charge of the Mass Centre.
During the exhortation, the Bishop said that Christ is the way, the truth and the life and noted that when the faithful are at peace with Christ and their neighbour, there is no need for them to be afraid.
Speaking further, the Chief Shepherd charged all present to work dedicatedly with their priest to make the building project a success and advised the contractor to make use of quality materials to enable the building stand the test of time. While enjoining all present to contribute meaningfully towards the completion of the project.
thereafter, the foundation stone was laid by the Bishop Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G. Dunia, as well as the blessing of the project site.
Giving the vote of thanks at the ceremony, Sir G.P. Abu (KSM) commended the Bishop and other priests present at the ceremony Rev. Fr. Philip Omokhekhe; the parish priest of St. Anne, Ososo and thanked all present for coming to the ceremony.
Sir, Abu noted that the Catholic Church is known for bringing progress and development to their host communities and stressed that Dagbala is not an exception and pledged his commitment to partner with the Church to develop the community.

Fr. Momoh Marks Ordination Anniversary At Afuze

Ambrose Ekperi

The assisting parish priest of St Jude Catholic Church, Afuze Rev. Fr. Francis Momoh, has recently marked his one year priestly ordination anniversary with a thanksgiving to God at the Church.
Giving the homily during the mass, Fr. Momoh said that Peter and other devoted followers who proclaimed the true identity of Jesus, sought to protect Him from the suffering and cruel death He would undergo in the hands of the Jews, but Jesus rebuked them.
The priest said that Jesus made it clear that it was through His death on the cross that all the faithful would receive His life within them. More, he warned faithful to be conscious of the advice they receive from friends during difficult times.
Speaking further, Fr. Momoh charged faithful to stand firm against temptations and weaknesses, stressing that they should not be discouraged, while describing it as an opportunity for them to turn to God for help.
He urged them to put aside anything that would go against the unconditional love of Christ for men and noted that God will deliver the righteous and condemn the wicked. He asked the parishioners to pray for priests to enable them minister effectively in God's vineyard.
Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession led by Rev. Fr. Francis Momoh who was accompanied by the parishioners to the altar of God.
Thereafter, delegates of the parish laity council led by Mr A.O. Irerua, congratulated the priest on his one year anniversary and wished him more years of fulfillment in his ministry. A gift was presented to the celebrant in appreciation of his evangelization drive.
In response, Rev. Fr. Francis Momoh thanked them for their show of love and prayed God to bless them all.

Jattu Begin Know Your Faith Sessions For Youth

Julius Omokhunu

St Philip-Neri Parish Jattu, has recently commenced a lecture series captioned “Know Your Faith” for youths in the parish.
The parish priest Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, said the session became necessary as a result of the seeming ignorance of Catholic youths on the doctrines and dogma of the faith they profess.
Fr. Omunagbe said that since his assumption of office as administrator of the parish, his interactions with the youths revealed that though the youths were interested in practicing the Catholic faith, they were not very knowledgeable about the church doctrines and explained that the decision to centre the programme on the youths was borne out of the need to fill the void between the younger generation and the church.
Continuing, he hinted that his dream is to prepare those who will carry the gospel farther than the current generation has done and will be adequately prepared to defend the Catholic faith even in times of trials.
During the session, questions on the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and other issues bothering on the faith were answered by Rev. Fr. Omunagbe.
Some participants at the event welcomed the initiative, describing the programme as an eye opener which has given them the opportunity to ask questions about the Catholic doctrine and to receive knowledge which will make them stronger and better Catholics.
The know your faith session holds on the second and last Sunday of every month by 4pm and it is opened to all Catholics who wish to increase their knowledge of the Church.

St. James Celebrates Children/Youth Harvest

Julia Ezurike

The Catholic community of St. James Mass Centre Waterboard, Auchi has recently marked her 2011 annual children/youth harvest thanksgiving and Bazaar at the Church premises.
Giving the homily at the thanksgiving mass tagged “Harvest of Divine Favour”, the rector of the Mass Centre Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo, charged the faithful to repay God's generosity by living a good life, as the generosity of God has no bound.
The homilist reiterated that God's ways are different from human's and noted that in His justice, He treats everyone the same. He stressed that man should not allow himself to be taken over by jealousy, envy, anger, greed and other sins.
Continuing, Fr. Emodogo urged all present to celebrate the prosperity of their neighbours and to thank God for His grace in their lives, instead of pulling them down, while stressing that God has blessed everyone differently.
He further charged the parishioners to be generous while giving thanks to God which he hinted is one of the ways the blessing of the harvest will reach them.
Thereafter, the priest prayed for God's blessing and protection as they marked this year's children/youth harvest, while imploring God to enrich them the more in the upcoming year.
At the bazaar sales which kicked off immediately after the mass at the Church premises, the chairman of the harvest occasion Mr Gregory Ogbhemhe, appreciated God for giving him the opportunity to chair the ceremony, which he described as God’s goodness in his life.
On her part, the chairperson of 2011 children/youth harvest planning committee Mrs V.E. Braimoh, thanked God for His mercies and welcomed all present to the bazaar sales. She charged all present to donate generously towards the completion of the rectory.
Highpoint of the bazaar was the raffle draw which was worn by Master Benedict Yerima.
In his vote of thanks, the chairman of the occasion, Mr Gregory Ogbhemhe expressed his gratitude to God for a successful harvest while appreciating the Rector of the Mass Centre Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo, the harvest committee and the entire lay faithful of St. James Waterboard for the successful harvest.

Udaba Legionaries Mark Mary’s Birthday

Jude Alumiasunya

All legionaries and the entire lay faithful of Assumption Catholic Church, Udaba Ekperi was elate with happiness as they gathered recently to celebrate the birth of Mary Mother of God in style.
In his homily at the mass, Rev. Fr. Godswill Oghiator said that women should see Mother Mary as a role model who was an epitome of purity and encouraged them to pray the Rosary always. He advised them to join the legion of Mary which he described as the basis of Catholic evangelization.
Rev. Fr. Oghiator maintained that every Catholic should have the statue of Mary in their home, adding that it portrays that Mary is their Mother. He noted that their devotional outlook is what gives inspiration to other Christians.
Speaking further, the priest reiterated that Mary was a perpetual Virgin and added that Joseph came into her life in other to assist her physical needs.
On the question that Catholic worship Mary, the priest clarified that Catholic honour Mary. Fr. Oghiator said that Mary deserves to be worshiped and honoured since they could porstrate before a wealthy individual in the society and averred that the image in the Catholic Church signifies holiness.
He called on Catholics to always recite the Angelus noting that it reminds them of the salutation to Mary and bring about their spiritual inclination.
Fr. Oghiator however, instructed all the adjoining outstations in the parish to install the statue of the Blessed Mary in the stations.
Thereafter at the reception, Reginal ceali curia president Mr Innih Paul, welcomed all present to the celebration and urged all legionaries to continue in their activities which he said includes, helping the less privileged, evangelization and performing Church duty.
Highpoint of the celebration were cutting of the cake, song rendition to Mary and others.
In his vote of thanks, Mr T.A. Adome appreciated all present for coming and charged them to be true soldiers of Christ, while he enjoined them to have faith in God always which he said would enable them to be active in their legion works.
Other guests present at the occasion were Mr Augustine Ezunya; Parish Laity Chairman, Catechist Paul Asore; the CWO President Mrs Margaret Akhibi and others.

Uzairue Hosts Diocesan CMO

John Idaewor

The Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Afashio/Afowa, Uzairue has recently played host to the Auchi Diocesan Catholic Men Organisation.
Giving the exhortation, Rev. Alfred Ebalu who represented the parish priest Rev. Fr. Mark Akhibi, thanked the CMO members for coming to Uzairue for the meeting and stressed that there is the need for Christians to prepare for heaven while on earth. He charged the members to take their meetings seriously like other lay apostolate groups in the Diocese of Auchi.
On his part, the parish CMO chairman Sir Patrick Odio, welcomed all present to the parish and said that they were happy to receive the members to the parish. He appreciated members for their large turnout to the meeting and expressed their happiness for hosting the CMO members.
The meeting was concluded with a deliberation on some issues affecting the group and ways of moving the Diocese forward.

Rev. Fr. Ogbenika Marks Ordination Anniversary
… As Fugar Welcome Sisters of Perpetual Help

Catherine Izuagie

The parish priest of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Fugar Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika, has recently marked his sixteen (16th) year priestly ordination anniversary in Fugar.
In a homily delivered at the mass, Rev. Fr. Martin Alokwe said that the celebration is necessary while stressing that 16 years of evangelization and bringing people to God was not an easy one. He described the priesthood as a sacred gift given by God and reaffirmed that the life of a priest is not an easy one, but full of turbulence and bitter experience, adding that the only way for a priest to succeed during such times is to look on to Jesus.
Continuing, the homilist commended the parents of the celebrant for given their son to God, and charged the lay faithful to shun abortion which he said has cut short the lives of many children who would have been important dignitaries in life were they allowed to live.
Fr. Alokwe said that the fruitful result of Rev. Fr. Gregory Ogbenika ministry was that he allowed God to take charge of his life and called on all present to embrace God in all their endeavour.
He further prayed for the celebrant to attain long life in the Lord's Vineyard while asking God to grant his parents abundant blessings.
Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession by the celebrant accompanied by parishioners.
Other priests present at the mass were Rev. Frs. Nicholas Oshiokede, Pius Obasami, Isaac Agabi, Francis Ikhianosimhe and Emmanuel Gimah.
Thereafter, a book was launched written by the celebrant Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika titled “The Idea of Spirit in African Philosophy”. The book was presented by the chairman of the occasion Sir Peter Aliu represented by Sir A.B.C. Nasamu, who commended the efforts of the author.
Commenting on the book, the reviewer Dr. Matthew Izibili, congratulated the author and commended him for a job well done.
At the reception, guests were entertained by the pupils of Mother of Good Counsel Nursery/ Primary School, CWO Agbi cultural dance. Also there was the cutting of the anniversary cake by the celebrant assisted by Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey, Chief Okhuofu, Rev. Fr. Martin Alokwe, parents of the celebrant and others guests present.
The occasion was also used to confer a chieftaincy title by the parish CWO on the celebrant as the Ilumamie of Fugar Parish.
In his vote of thanks, the celebrant Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika commended them all for their show of love and prayed God to bless them accordingly.
In another development, the Fugar Catholic community has welcomed the Sisters of Perpetual help of the Archangel to Fugar to take up the administration of the Mother of Good Counsel Nursery/Primary School. They were Rev. Srs. Immaculate Ngom Chukwu, Mary Monday and Abigail.
Welcoming them to Fugar at the convent, the parish priest of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Fugar Rev. Fr. Gregory Ogbenika, remarked that their coming to Fugar was timely and thanked God for the journey mercy granted them.
He maintained that their coming to Fugar was to take up the administration of Mother of Good Counsel Nursery/Primary School in order to take it to a greater height, while enjoining them to co-operate with others in order to actualize their goals.
On his part, the parish laity chairman Mr Jacob Iyogwoya welcomed them to the parish and pledged their unflinching support for the Reverend Sisters.
In the same vein, the parish CWO President Mrs Catherine Izuagie and the parish CMO Chairman Mr Nelson Abu, both expressed their readiness to work harmoniously with the sisters and prayed God to grant them a fruitful stay in Fugar.
In her response, Rev. Sr. Immaculate Ngom Chukwu on behalf of the others, thanked the parish priest, his assistant, religious and lay faithful for the warm reception accorded them and prayed Mother Mary to help them all.
In his vote of thanks, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oshiokede appreciated the parish priest Rev. Fr. Gregory Ogbenika for the reception and thanked all present at the occasion and prayed God to bless them abundantly.

Cardinal Okojie Ordain Six Priests At Ekpoma

Felicia Imokhai

His eminence Anthony Cardinal Olubumi Okojie Archbishop of the Metropolitan see of Lagos has ordained six priests for the Discalced Carmelite order at St Mary the Queen, Ekpoma. They were Revs. Ambrose Ekerok OCD, Walter-Mary Ayogu OCD, Gabriel Ihnnia OCD, Felix Okolo OCD, Joseph Bernard OCD and Augustine Onwugboluzo OCD.
In the mass concelebrated by over thirty five priests, His Eminence in the homily gave glory to God for the blessing of the six priests and said that they are gifts to the Church of God.
Speaking further, he paid tribute to the Irish Missionaries for their evangelization of Nigerian and said that those they evangelized are now becoming priests to evangelize others as missionary priests. The Cardinal urged the newly ordained priests to take their priesthood seriously while he referred them to John 15:16, reminding them that as according to the word of God, they were chosen by God to bear fruit and not to amass wealth as others are doing.
The prelate further tasked them to prayerfully pursue their ministry which is to propagate the word of God and sacrament of priesthood, which is characterized with challenges and sacrifices. He also enjoined them to be true and successful witnesses of Christ, while admonishing them to live a life of holiness, prayer and not to think that they have arrived.
In addition, the Cardinal cautioned the parishioners not to look down on their priests or gossip about them, rather, they should endeavour to guide them with their prayer. Shortly after the ordination, His Eminence presented the tools for their ministry to them.
Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by the newly ordained priests accompanied by their families and friends.
While giving the vote of thanks, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Odigwe the Carmelite Regional Vicar appreciated the Cardinal and congratulated him on his 75th birthday.
The reception witnessed the cutting of two cakes, one for the ordination of the six newly ordained priests and the other for the 75th Birthday Anniversary of His Eminence. Other guests present at the mass were Seminarians, Religious, Catholic faithful and others.

Agenebode Marks Feast Day

Akenabor Paul

It was another time of celebration for the Catholic community of St. Philomena Upland Agenebode, an outstation of Sacred Heart Parish, Agenebode as they recently marked their patron feast day with a three day event.
In the holy mass to conclude the celebration, Rev. Fr. Martins Enegbuma in the homily titled “the kind of prayer that win God's attention”, said that Christians should be persistent in prayer and urged them to never lose faith in God even in the light of trials.
Further, Fr. Enegbuma gave qualities that lay faithful should possess in order to have effective prayers, to include; learn to lean on God alone, develop cheerful attitude, persistent in prayers increase in faith as well as ability to shun rumour.
Earlier on the first day of the celebration, the parish administrator of Sacred Heart parish Agenebode Rev. Fr. Silas Bobokhai in his homily, urged the faithful to be humble as St. Philomena did. Thereafter the day's activity was rounded off with divine mercy prayers while the second day of the celebration featured a novelty football match between CWO and CMO and a quiz competition.
Highpoints of the celebration were a match past by the boys brigade, drama and traditional dance as well as gift presentation to winner of the quiz competition and the Altar Boys for their performances.

Edegbe Holds Youth Rally

George Enakhena/Omijie Frank

The Catholic community of St. Stephen Catholic Church, Edegbe an outstation of St. Thomas Aquinas Mass Centre Ivioghe, has recently held their 2011 youth rally tagged “Edegbe 2011. The events was attended by the three outstation of the Mass Centre; St Thomas Aquinas; the main station, Holy Trinity station Iviebua and St. Stephen, Edegbe station.
Welcoming all the participants to the event, the Rector of the Church Rev. Fr. Victor Ibhawa, enjoined all present to utilize the lessons learnt from the programme effectively and also charged them to avoid whatever that will ruin the rally, pointing out that the rally was to foster unity and love among the youths of the Mass Centre.
On his part, the Mass Centre CYON President Mr George Enakhena, admonished all present at the rally to take advantage of the rally to showcase their God given skills, while urging them to shun hatred and bitterness among themselves.
The rally which was the first of its kind in the Mass Centre, featured talks on different issues. The first lecture was titled “Destiny Destroyer” delivered by Ms Helen Uhunmwagho, a lecturer in Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi. In it, Ms Uhunmwagho tasked the youth to avoid every negative habit that would destroy their destiny.
The second lecture was delivered by Rev. Fr. Isaac Oshomah titled 'The role of youth in the Church. The resource person charged the youths to be up and doing in the church and reminded them on the need to discharge their roles effectively in the Church.
The third lecture was delivered by Mrs Cordilia Omozegbhai titled “HIV/AIDS: causes and Remedy. In it, she enjoined the youths to avoid premarital sex and reminded them on the need to be faithful to God.
In another lecture given by Dr. Obasi Emmanuel of Sancta Maria Medical centre, centered on 'personal hygiene, skin care and the negative effect of early marriage'. He advised the youths to take proper care of their skin and promote good environmental health practices. He advised them to shun drug addiction and other activities that would affect them health wise.
Highpoints of the event were cultural display, football game, Ludo game and draft. Also featured were essay and quiz competition as well as presentation of awards to the over all winners who were, Holy Trinity, Iviebua got the first position, St. Thomas Aquinas Ivioghe, clinched the second position while the host St. Stephen Edegbe, settled for the third position.

Ikabigbo Hosts Holy Rosary Pastoral Council

John Idaewor

The bi-monthly meeting of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church Afowa/Afashio, Uzairue has been hosted by Ikabigbo Catholic community. The meeting was presided over by the parish priest Rev. Fr. Mark Akhibi.
The rotational meeting between the main parish Holy Rosary and out stations is a platform to discuss matters affecting the parish, as members of the various Lay Apostolate groups send delegates to represent their interest.
Speaking at the meeting, the parish priest Rev. Fr. Mark Akhibi tasked debtors of THE PROMISE Newspaper to pay up inorder not to soil the parish reputation, as the parish is associated with debts, while stressing that even the central fund to the Bishop, though a huge not high sum, the parish normally pays up before any other parish in the diocese.
More, he informed delegates present that he would not want to be associated with any show of shame as records indicate that their bill is increasing and further directed all those responsible to pay the money to THE PROMISE Newspaper' office or they will be brought to book.
Other important issues affecting the Church was successfully deliberated on, after which the parish Catechist Mr Simeon Awheneghemhe, led the closing prayers.

Everything On Earth Is Temporal -Fr Bossey

Cecil Olorunda

The parish priest of St. John the Apostle, Igarra Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey, has reiterated the transience of human life while stressing that of heaven is permanent, in order for faithful to prepare towards eternity. He stated this recently at a funeral mass held in honour of Chief Pa Joseph Ogbodo Onimowo at the Church premises.
Fr. Bossey advised the children of the diseased to be united in Christ and tasked them to shun evil ways of life that will lead them to eternal condemnation. He commended the love life of the diseased and his wife, stressing that they demonstrated a high sense of love even at their old age and charged other married couples to endeavour to remain committed to their vows, pointing out that seeking heavenly things that are permanent will enable them live a good life.
Earlier at the wake keep mass held at the residence of the deceased, Rev. Paul Inanoremhe said that the wake keep mass was to celebrate Chief Ogbodo whom he said had served God fatherly and was a devout Catholic.
Rev. Inanoremhe noted that in a world characterized with pains, oppression, wickedness, cheating and evil, anyone who attains the age of 91 years as Pa Ogbodo, should be celebrated. He added it was the grace of God on the deceased that gave him longevity.
Continuing, Rev. Inanoremhe stressed that the deceased was a devout member of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary and he urged all present to remain committed to God who will never disappoint them.
In his vote of thanks on behalf of the family at the funeral mass, the son of the diseased Engr. Valentine D. Onimowo, appreciated God for the filled life his father had lived, adding that his father was a hardworking man. He further commended the parish priest and all present at the mass for taking time to commiserate with them.
Thereafter, the remains of Pa Joseph Ogbodo Onimowo was interred at his residence at Igarra.

Fugar Ends Novena With Feast Of Assumption

Catherine Izuagie

The Catholic community of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Fugar has recently concluded novena with the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It commenced with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary and a Eucharistic celebration.
In the homily given by Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oshiokede, the assistant parish administrator, he stated that Mother Mary is the mother of Jesus and Jesus loved her. He also said that Blessed Virgin Mary was taken to heaven by the angels of God and enjoined Catholics to ignore critics who say Catholics are worshipers of Mary stressing that Catholics honour Mary.
Fr. Oshiokede reiterated that the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary was exceptional as she was humble and urged all present to always do good which he said will be rewarded according to one's effort on the last day.
Speaking further, he noted that Mary's visit to Elizabeth was to help her as she was old, stressing that they should emulate her good deeds as a woman of faith.
Thereafter, the event was concluded with prayer and blessing by Rev. Fr. Oshiokede who also prayerfully burnt the various petitions written by the parishioners.

Ighaewo Hosts Rev. Fr. Ogbitebu

Maria Odidi

All Saints Catholic Church, Ighaewo was a beehive of activities recently, as Rev. Fr. Peter Ogbitebu paid his first visit to his home town, Ighaewo Agenebode, after being ordained as a priest on July 1st, 2011, at St. Anne Catholic Church Ibara, Abeokuta Diocese, by Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese.
During the homily delivered by the parish priest Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala, he advised the newly ordained to be disciplined, as discipline is the key to greater heights.
The ceremony was rounded off with a reception which featured various dances including a parade of culture, traditional dances and presentation of gifts by the parish and individuals to the newly ordained.
It was also an occasion for the Parish CWO to show their affection to their President, Mrs M. Ogbitebu, who is also the mother of the Rev. Fr. Peter Ogbitebu.


Be True Disciples Of Christ -Fr Elogie

Julius Omokhunu

Catholics have been encouraged to brace themselves up for the challenges that accompany discipleship of Christ and strive to be steadfast disciples in the Christian race.
The assisting priest of St Philip Neri Catholic Church Jattu, Rev. Fr. Innocent Elogie, gave this charge in a homily at a mass to mark his one year priestly ordination anniversary.
While delivering the homily titled “The Challenges of Christian Discipleship”, Fr. Elogie defined a disciple as “an apprentice; one who learns from the master, does what the master does and suffers what the master suffers.”
He said that by virtue of baptism, every Catholic has been called to be a follower of Christ, in the same way Christ himself called the twelve Apostles.
Fr. Elogie highlighted steps to note if anyone is to truly be a part of Jesus' discipleship to include denial, detachment, humility, service, witnessing and readiness to suffer.
He said that if anyone is to truly follow Christ, he must be ready to deny and renounce his old ways of life and embrace the teaching of the Lord Jesus and added that Christians must be ready to detach themselves from the things of the world which would cause obstacles between them and the attainment of eternal life.
Continuing, Fr. Elogie noted that true disciples should be willing to do away with pride and show readiness to serve others, adding that if anyone desired to be first, he should be the least of all and servant of all. He explained that the last key point to note is the persecution Christians are expected to encounter in their quest to be witnesses to the gospel of Christ.
Speaking further, the priest said that although difficulty, abuse, tribulations and persecution are bound to occur, the steadfast disciple will carry the cross of pain and adversity just to remain with the master. He urged them to remain true disciple of Christ who are the light of the world and salt of the earth who should never fail to call on the name of Christ to see them through life's challenges and concluded that the true disciple who is steadfast till the end will receive the promises of Christ.
Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving by Rev. Fr Innocent Elogie on his one year priestly ordination and was accompanied by parishioners to the altar.

Domus Marie College Ends Academic Session
… As Rev. Fr. John Ofei Uba Marks Graduation Ceremony

Cecil Olorunda

The Management, Staff and Pupils of Domus Marie College and Rev. Fr. John Uba Ofei Memorial Nursery/Primary School have recently celebrated end of their academic session for the year 2011.
Delivering the homily at the communion service to commence the celebration, Rev. Paul Inanoremhe thanked God for the successful completion of their academic year. He said that children are gift from God and noted that there is need for parents to give thanks to God for the gift of their children. He urged the parents to give their children sound morals, quality education, while praying God to continue to bless them, to enable them achieve their goals in life.
Rev. Inanoremhe who noted that children were always happy to see their parents celebrating with them, commended the efforts of seminarian Augustine Ogane, the outgone head master of Domus Marie College, Igarra. He thanked the seminarian for his hardwork during his pastoral year at Igarra and prayed God to continue to bless him as he continues his formation.
At the reception, Bro. Augustine Ogane gave the vote of thanks. In it, he appreciated the staff and students of the school for the success they have recorded in the school. The seminarian commended the parish administrator Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey and the school management for their love and support towards the growth of the school.
Also, the chairman of the occasion Hon. Ojemu who was happy with the academic performance of the pupils of Rev. Fr. Ofei Memorial School, stressed that Catholic Schools have remained the best in terms of moral, discipline and academic performance. Hon. Ojemu charged all parents present to send their children to Catholic Schools to get the best of them.
Highpoint of the occasion was drama presentation, cultural display and launching of the maiden edition of the school magazine, “The young stars”.


Jattu Celebrates Children/Youth Harvest

Julius Omokhunu

It was a joyous celebration recently, as parishioners of St Philip-Neri Catholic Church, Jattu marked the 2011 annual children/youth harvest thanksgiving and bazaar.

The harvest which was tagged harvest of divine connection started with a thanksgiving mass where children of the Church took charge of the liturgy.

In his homily, Rev. Fr. Philip-Neri Ebhakhaye reminded all present that true Christians must be patient when they pray and said that God's delay in answering prayers should not be seen as denial, but as a preparation period and test of one's faith before a heart desire is granted.

Fr. Ebhakhaye said that delay is a test of one's faith and that it is only normal and necessary to appreciate God for His mercies and blessings, adding that there is really nothing of great importance to thank God with, while advising that the best gift of thanksgiving is to present oneself as a holy and living sacrifice.

Highpoint of the mass was prayers for various intentions and thanksgiving by various groups and societies in the Church who presented various items to God.

There was also a special thanksgiving for the priests in the parish led by Rev. Fr. Philip-Neri Ebhakhaye and Rev. Fr. Innocent Elogie.
Thereafter, at the bazaar which was held at the Church social centre, chairman of the harvest planning committee Mr Mike Costly Oghumah, said that the theme of the harvest was chosen because parishioners of the Church are divinely connected to God, as it is the only way to explain the numerous blessings they have received from Him in the past year.

Agenebode Host Diocesan Church Wardens

Akenabor Paul

Sacred Heart Parish Agenebode, has recently hosted the Diocesan Church Wardens meeting.
In his homily titled “Witnessing to Christ the one who holds the key” Rev. Fr. Martins Enegbuma enjoined Church wardens to have faith in God and not to rely solely on their heart but on divine revelation.
Fr. Martins Enegbuma urged all present to live a life worthy of emulation so that people living around them will be able to give positive remarks and comments about them and urged the congregation to reflect on their life styles and endeavour to make it pleasing to God.
Thereafter at the meeting, in his welcome address, the Sacred Heart parish administrator Rev. Fr. Silas Bobokhai, advised the Church wardens to ensure orderliness in the Church by creating an environment free from distractions during mass.
Fr. Bobokhai who described them as the eye of the Church, stressed that their responsibility is not an easy task, adding that it needs courage and endurance.
Other dignitaries present at the meeting were the Diocesan chaplain to Church Warden Rev. Fr. Pius Obasami, the Diocesan Church Warden president Mr Jerome Ugbekhume; the Sacred Heart President of the group, Mr Paul Ikhimeagie; the patroness of the group, Mrs Angelina Etafo among others in the Diocese.

Pa Alfred Ighabor Is Laid To Rest At Fugar

Catherine Izuagie

The father of Rev. Fr. Isaac Ighabor, Pa Alfred Ikhwemho Ighbor, has been laid to rest at his residence in Fugar.
In a homily delivered at the requiem mass, Rev. Fr. Innocent Elogie said that God created the world and put man in the Garden of Eden to control all that He had created. He noted that God gave man the gift of eternity, integrity and knowledge, but sin denied him of the blessings.
Speaking further, the homilist described death as a special visitor that all should be expecting and urged them to be ready for it whenever it knocks, as it cannot be escaped.
Fr. Elogie who explained that death is to depart eternally away to heaven or hell. He reminded the congregation that death is not the time for weeping, but to pray for the deceased and for all to reflect on their own lives.
Continuing, the priest charged all present to turn a new leaf in their lives and stressed that Christianity is not the number of times one attended mass, but their love for their neighbours.
In his remark, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oshiokede on behalf of the Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G. Dunia, the parish administrator, Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika condoled Rev. Fr. Isaac Ighabor and his family and prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the lose. He said that their father lived a true Christian life and described him as a legend. He further commended all the priests, religious, lay faithful and all present for attending the mass.
In his response, Rev. Fr. Ighabor thanked all the priests present, religious and lay faithful for paying their last respect to his father.
The final commendation rite was administered by Rev. Fr. Charles Nasamu. Thereafter, Pa Alfred Ighabor was laid to rest.
Other priests present at the occasion were Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai who represented the Bishop of Auchi Diocese, Rev. Frs. Martins Atsebaomho, Callistus Ulokoaga, Isaac Agabi, Anthony Edogamhe, Cornelus Omonokhua, Eric Oyezere, Edward Openday, Osajie Thomas, Emmanuel Gimah, James Anelu and Rev. . Godstime Irabor.

Diocesan CGON Ends Retreat At Ibillo

Garuba Nicholas

The Diocesan Catholic Girls Organisation of Nigeria (CGON), has recently ended her annual retreat with a Holy Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church, Ibillo.
The Eucharistic celebration to conclude the three day chain of activities was officiated by the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Godrick Shaba.
In his homily, at the occasion tagged “let your light shine”, Rev. Fr. Shaba prayed God to take charge of the lives of all present at the celebration and asked them to be persistent in faith and their prayer to God, who is a miraculous God and have answers to all problems.
Fr. Shaba further encouraged them to be patient in times of difficulty. Also he urged them to be humble, shun pride and let their godly conduct attract others to Christ, while advising them to always acknowledge that they are sinners and beg God for pardon.
Highpoint of the mass was the investiture of 37 members of the CGON and thanksgiving procession by the group.
At the commencement of the event earlier, lectures were featured for the three days event which ranged from different issues affecting the faithful and the society in general.

Rev. Fr. Afokhume Marks Ordination Anniversary

Richard Olori

It was another moment of joy and conviviality in the Catholic community of Holy Angels Mass Centre, Dagbala as the Rector of the Mass Centre Rev. Fr. Moses Afokhume recently marked his eleven (11) years ordination anniversary with a thanksgiving mass.
Giving the homily during the thanksgiving mass, Rev. Fr. Afokhome said that thanksgiving is another affirmation of God's goodness to them all and warned the congregation not to turn their back on God during difficulties.
Fr. Afokhume pointed out that God is fully aware of the challenges Christians are facing and added that He is always there to console them in times of difficulties. He remarked that the life of a priest is that of sacrifice which must make love its principal rule of life as noted by St. Paul.
The priest of God said that it is love that can sustain them all to be able to live a life of sacrifice and tasked them to avoid worldly glory to achieve heavenly glory.
Fr. Afokhume reminded them on the transient nature of life and urged all to avoid putting pressure on life to the detriment of their souls.
Speaking further, the priest appreciated the faithful for their love towards him and prayed God to bless them continuously.
Highpoint of the celebration was thanksgiving processing by the celebrant Rev. Fr. Moses Afokhume, accompanied by the parishioners.
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