News Update

Cross Celebration: Bishop Okoye Urges Youths to Explore Vocational Opportunities

     …Awka Diocesan CYON Receives Jubilee Cross 

By Chioma Ndife

In Celebration of the Jubilee Cross by youths in the Catholic Diocese of Awka, the Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, has beckoned on youths to develop their inbuilt potentials and explore the numerous opportunities that abound in the vocational field, saying that the ingenuity in such field can propel one to excel beyond borders.

Bishop Okoye made the call at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, during the reception of the Jubilee cross in celebration of World Youth Day Cross ahead of the preparation for the Awka Diocesan National Youth Day Celebration scheduled for 2022 and International World Youth Day to be held in Lisbon, Portugal in August 2023.

He noted that the celebration of World Youth Day Cross in Awka Catholic Diocese was in line with the directive from the supreme pontiff, Pope Francis, and described it as an important step in the pilgrimage that will lead youths to Lisbon in 2023.

He explained that the wooden cross which was received by the Awka diocesan youths was given to youths by St. Pope John Paul II in 1984 at the end of the Holy Year of Redemption. He said that St. Pope John Paul II assigned a special task to the youths while handing over the cross as he asked them to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity and to proclaim to everyone that it was only in Christ who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found.

He disclosed that over the past 36 years, the cross had traveled around the world, carried by young people on pilgrimages and processions, as well as to every International World Youth Day. He maintained that the 12 and a half foot tall cross was known with different names, including the Youth Cross, Jubilee Cross and Pilgrim Cross.

He regretted that the economic situations and bad leadership in Nigeria had placed the Nigerian youth in a pathetic state and urged the youths not to give up but to look within and discover areas where they could assist in fixing the Nigerian situation and meeting ends. He tasked youths to get more involved in vocational ventures, noting that even those who had gone for formal training in universities and are involved in white-collar jobs could get involved in vocational activities as means of solving the problems that abound in the nation.

The Catholic prelate recognized that youths were faced with various challenges and charged them to remain in prayer while drawing examples from Christ who gave up himself for sinners. He said there was need for the Federal Government to give equal opportunities to all youths to develop.

He said that the centre of the celebration remained the mystery of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of Man, as Saint Pope John Paull II, the initiator and patron of WYD had always emphasized.

Fides gathered that a website for the World Youth Day in Lisbon had been launched in October last year and its logo unveiled. The design which featured the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of a cross was created by Beatriz Roque Antunes, a 24 year old who works at a communication agency in Lisbon.

The Marian Logo, Fides learnt, was designed to communicate the World Youth Day theme selected by Pope Francis: ‘Mary arose and went with haste,’ from St. Luke’s account of the Virgin Mary’s Visitation to her cousin, Elizabeth, after the annunciation.

Speaking to Fides, the Awka Diocesan CYON President, Augustine Chizoba Ubochi, said the celebration of the cross was held once in three years in preparation for the National Youth Day. He maintained that the programme which had been designed for the National Youth Day would bring youths closer to Christ and advised youths to pray more consistently for survival.

He explained that CYON was instituted to bring youths closer to Christ and noted that the body had been assisting youths in discovering their hidden potentials for self-reliance through its various programmes and activities.

Contributing, the CYON Secretary of Amawbia Deanery, Ogochukwu Ezezue, said that the cross which the Awka diocesan CYON received from Ekwulobia Diocese would be handed over to Onitsha Diocese. She said that the event was more of a pilgrimage in honour of the cross which signified the salvation of humanity. She said that the cross would journey till the next youth day.