Urges Them To Be Firm In Teaching And Good Collaborators
By Kizito Umennadi Revd Fr
The Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese Most Revd Peter Okpaleke has lauded the examplary works of service to the Church in the diocese and the ‘ enormous sacrifices to serve the Lord’ which catechists have exhibited and continued to show over time in their different parishes, communities and in the diocese at large. The prelate equally prayed the good Lord Jesus Christ to bless and reward them abundantly here and hereafter.
The Bishop made this remark during his second interactive session with the catechists working at the 85 parishes that make up the diocese on Saturday April,2nd,2022 at the diocesan headquarters, St Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia.
Delivering a homily in a concelebrated Eucharistic Mass to mark the event, the prelate reminded the catechists that they have been called by the Lord Jesus to be good ambassadors, spokespersons and those who will at all times stand up for Jesus.
Drawing from the gospel reading of the day taken from John 7:40-52, he remarked that those sent by the leaders of the Jews to catch and arrest Jesus could not do so because their encounter with the Lord changed them. He therefore reminded them of the importance of encountering Jesus on daily basis, never to run away from the faith, to be consistent, to remain unshaken no matter what it will cost them to do that.
In a brief speech he delivered to the catechists he went on to reiterate that by the virtue of their office, they are representatives of the Church within the community and should always continue to grow in the consciousness of this and to use their diverse contact with the rest of the community to witness to the faith and lead them to God.
While going down memory lane to show them how the early catechists, often called Onye nkụzi ụka – took care of the christian community on daily basis due to paucity of priests,he challenged them to see their mission as more than making announcements but to become again,’ real teachers of faith, good collaborators with priests working in their parishes and contributing in a special way to the building up of the Christian community.’
The Bishop equally reminded them of his pastoral focus for the year being, ‘Catching Them Young And Keeping Them For Christ’, while urging them to help promote the use of audio-visual aid for children ministry, effective and functional block rosary centres and Holy Childhood Association.
He equally reminded them of the forthcoming national Eucharistic Congress and the importance of helping to awaken in the minds of the faithful devotion to Christ in the blessed sacrament,a practice which according to him seem to be dwindling at the moment.
In their response, the catechists speaking through their president, Mr Matthias Ezeokafor and the secretary, Mr Edwin Okeke while thanking the bishop for making out time to be with them enumerated a number of concerns which according to them is impinging on the success of their work.
This include: Neo- Paganism by youths and parents, Masquerading on Sundays, Lack of common marriage course scheme of work in CADEK, Collaboration with parish priests, Burial procedures for Catechists, Salary increment, Remuneration after service, Absence of some of their members from annual retreat among others.
The Bishop together with the Vicar General-Cadek Rev Fr Anthony Chiegboka did justice to their questions and concluded that our story is a work in progress to which everyone is expected to play their role.
He equally thanked the chaplain and sister director of catechists , Rev Fr Patrick Okeke and Sr Chinwe Okeke as well the executive members of catechists association in the diocese led by Mr Matthias Ezeokafor for the able way they have been piloting the affairs of the body.
In a separate interview with Maranatha Multimedia, Mr Celestine Neme,Mr Cletus Mary Maduakor both Catechists at St Theresa’s Parish Oko and St Patrick’s parish Igbo-ukwu respectively appreciated the bishop for his love and concern for them while expressing their desire to continue with more vigour in working for the progress of faith in their parishes.
Also speaking during the event, the diocesan director of Communications and Catechesis, Msgr Jerome Madueke hinted on the need for continuous ongoing formation for Catechists and called on them to make it a point of duty to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the program to deepen their knowledge and faith in the Church.
He equally charged them on the urgency of mentoring successors that will eventually take over from them at their retirement even as he emphasized the need for them to get acquainted with the modern means of communication in doing their critical service to the Church in the modern world.
Highlights of the event include: Recitation of Holy Rosary, Holy Mass, Breaking of Kola nut, Interactive session, Vote of thanks, Closing prayers and Lunch.