Opinion

Catholic Lectors Awka Diocese End Maiden Seminar

…Urges Members to Live out their Mandate

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

The Catholic Lectors Association of Nigeria, Awka Diocese (CLANAD), has ended its maiden seminar with a call on members to live out the mandate of the dignified office which they occupy as those who proclaim the word of God.

Tagged ‘Okpuno 2021’, the seminar which was held at Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, Okpuno (ABAKORPACCO), Awka South LGA, Anambra State, from Friday 28th-Saturday, 29th May 2021, on the theme: ”The Lector’s Ministry: A Divine Mandate”, had lectors from the 104 parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Awka as participants.

The Chaplain, Catholic Lectors Association of Nigeria, Awka Diocese (CLANAD), Rev Fr Chimaobi Polycarp Okoye (centre). Fr Okoye is flanked on his left by the Chaplain, Catholic Lectors Association of Nigeria, Nimo Region, Rev Fr Stephen Okeke, (the homilist), and on his right by the President, CLANAD, Mrs. Jacqueline James Obiakor, Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, at Okpuno, May 29, 2021. Inset: Picture of the Constitution Booklet.

Presenting his seminar paper on the topic: ”The Place and Significance of the Ministry of Lectors in the Church”, the guest speaker, Rev Fr Michael Muonwe, stated that the ministry of the lector was very important, both in the Church’s liturgy and in the general life of the Church.

According to him, the ministry of a lector was a position that demanded lots of sacrifices and devotion, holiness of life and active involvement in the life of the Church. He added that as proclaimers of the word of God in the liturgy, lectors should endeavour to live in accordance with the word they proclaimed for their own sanctification, salvation, and the growth of the body of Christ.

Rev Fr Muonwe, who is a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and the Assistant Secretary of Ekwulobia Diocesan Presbyterium, described a lector as a minister who was specifically instituted to take the scriptural readings (i.e. to proclaim) the word of God at mass and other liturgical ceremonies. He explained that the duties of a lector, excluded proclamation of the Gospels, which were specifically reserved for a deacon or a priest (in the absence of a deacon).

Citing the General Instruction of Roman Missal (GIRM, paragraph. 59, 99), the speaker noted that the lector’s duty of proclamation of the word of God was a form of service to the Church.

Pointing out that a lector must be a practicing Catholic among other requirements, Rev Fr Muonwe identified clear understanding of the word of God, faith, conviction, knowledge of the liturgy and humility, as the qualities which a lector needed to imbibe for suitable discharge of his functions.

According to the Catholic priest, the word of God occupied a special place in the Church’s liturgy, because Christ was present in his word, and whenever the Sacred Scripture was read in the Church, it was God himself who spoke to his people through it.

He noted that the Liturgy of the Word should be celebrated in a way that would favour meditation, and so any kind of haste that hindered recollection should be clearly avoided, lest it hindered recollection.

‘A lector must proclaim the word with clarity, confidence, with suitable pace, eye contact, and some bit of silence where necessary,’ Fr Muonwe, who is a former secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, stated.

In an interview with Fides, the Chaplain, Catholic Lectors Association of Nigeria, Awka Diocese (CLANAD), Rev Fr Chimaobi Polycarp Okoye, said the purpose of the seminar was to give the lectors a common understanding of their ministry and roles in the liturgical worship. He enjoined the lectors to live out the divine mandate of Christ in both words and actions in the Church, their families and society at large.

Rev Fr Okoye, who is also the Director, Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, Okpuno, appreciated the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor and his auxiliary, Most Rev Jonas Benson Okoye, for the approval and support they gave to the seminar.

He thanked God for the success of the event and commended the participants for their turnout and active participation, which according to him was impressive despite the difficulties in the country. The chaplain equally lauded the lectors for their commitment to the divine ministry, which, he said, added beautiful meaning to liturgical celebrations

Earlier during the concelebrated opening Mass for the seminar, the Chaplain, Catholic Lectors Association of Nigeria, Nimo Region, Rev Fr Stephen Okeke, in his homily, observed that it was the duty of the lectors to, through their actions, lead people to God.

Rev Fr Okeke, who is also the Vice Principal/ Assistant Manager, St Mary’s High School, Ifitedunu, tasked lectors on life of thanksgiving and joy so as to radiate love in their families and society, even in the midst of challenges. He prayed that the maiden seminary bore worthy fruits in the participants to enable them to bear true witness to God in their families, parishes and society at large.

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