By Rev Fr Kizito Umennadi
Members of the Ekwulobia Catholic Diocesan Synod On Synodality committee as constituted by the bishop of the diocese, Most Revd Peter Okpaleke met on Saturday, April 2nd,2022 at the bishop’s conference room at the diocesan headquarters, St Joseph’s Cathedral Ekwulobia to present the reports of the synod on synodality done at various levels: zonal,parish and deanery and by so doing get them ready for collation, synthesization and presentation as a diocesan official response. Present at the meeting included all the deanery co-ordinators, chaplains of CWO, CMO and CYON as well as diocesan collators: Frs Chika Okpalike,Michael Muonwe and James Nnoruga.
Addressing members of the committee,the CADEK Co-ordinator of synod on synodality, Very Revd Fr Prof. Wenceslaus Ofojebe welcomed them to the meeting and called on them to discharge the sensitive function they have been mandated to do with every sense of purpose and maturity that it demands.
Recall that Pope Francis announced the formal opening of the Synod On Synodality on October 10th,2021 with Masses in each dioceses of the Church round the world. From then till April,2022 dioceses will be expected to conduct listening sessions, using preparatory documents, questionnaires and guidelines as provided by the Holy See.
In a separate interview with Rev Fr Dr Anthony Ezeogamba, a senior lecturer at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, chaplain of CWO- CADEK and member of the Committee on Synod On Synodality, stated that synodality is a term often used in the Church to describe the processes of fraternal collaboration and discernment that bodies like the Synod of Bishops were created to express and promote.
The term, ‘ synod’ comes from two Greek words namely, ‘sun’ meaning ‘together’ and ‘odos’ meaning ‘ way’, ‘journey’. It therefore means fraternally journeying together. It therefore means working together where according to him Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14: 6) and where christians, Christ’s faithful are called the followers of the Way (Acts 9: 2,19:9,23).
This definition has in mind that the Church is the Community of Believers or a gathering assembly summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel (Mtt.28:16-20). For Fr Lawrence Nwankwo, Chancellor- CADEK and a member of the Committee,’ in the Church, there’s a common dignity through baptism. Synodality demands the needs of the community to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit’. The Church thus need discernment, participation and co-responsibility where diversity of gifts are brought together for the expansion of the Church’s mission in the world.
At Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia, the timeline for the Synod On Synodality discussion to take place are: from February 4th,2022 to February 28th,2022 – at the zones in all the parishes, from March 1st,2022- March 15th,2022 – at the parish level, from March 16th,2022- March 31st,2022 – deanery level.
The Vatican approved handbook that accompanied the preparatory document offers tool, itineraries and suggestions so much so that different groups of questions can concretely inspire moments of prayer, formation, reflection and exchange.
The questions are dealt on sub themes like; The Journeying Companions, Listening, Speaking Out, Celebrating the Word and Eucharist,Co-responsibility in Mission, Dialogue in the Church and Society, Dialogue with other Christian denominations, Authority and Participation in the Church, Discerning and Deciding based on a consensus that flows from the common obedience to the Spirit and Forming Ourselves in Synodality.
With the formal presentation of official responses from the zones through the parishes to the deanery levels including the responses of major statutory bodies, the diocesan co-ordinator, Fr Wenceslaus Ofojebe formally handed over the document to the diocesan collators charging them to bring out their reports in record time.
Speaking to Maranatha Multimedia, Fr Francis Ude expressed optimism that the outcome of the Synod on Synodality when put in practice especially with reference to the youths and others will help strengthen and deepen the faith and bring along the needed renewal and transformation the Church is in dire need of at moment.
Highlights of the meeting include: Opening prayers, Presentation of reports by Deanery co-ordinators as well as chaplains of statutory bodies, interactive session, freewill speeches in the mode of journeying together, closing remarks and lunch.