News Update

CYON Awka Diocese Hosts Leadership Summit

By CP Uzoaganobi

A Leadership Summit has been held for delegates of Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria, CYON, across Awka Diocesan Parishes at Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat Pastoral and Conference Centre, Awka, on Saturday, June 17, 2023.

The theme of the Leadership summit was ”Youth Apostolate; Placing the Common Good above Personal Interest”.

The Diocesan Youth Chaplain, Rev Fr. Paschal Udo, in his remarks, acknowledged that being a youth was not easy.

‘We want you to know that we see you and hear you. You deserve to feel supported, from your Parishes, Deaneries and the Diocese,’ he added, noting that the summit provided them an opportunity for reflections on their journey so far and the future before attaining their full potentials as individuals.

The first guest speaker of the day, Bishop’s  Secretary, Rev Fr.  Evaristus Ifeanacho, described leadership as an act of stewardship, noting that what a youth is expected to do is to obey the teachings of the Church and practice it at all time. He described it as personal stewardship.

‘If there is any issue in the parish, there are procedures to follow instead of taking the law into your hands,’ he stressed, noting that the Church had procedures for addressing issues.

‘At first, any issue should be reported to the Dean of the Deanery. Certainly, the issue will be resolved, but if not resolved, it should be taken in a step by step approach by making the report to the Episcopal Vicar of the Region before the Diocesan Chancellor and then to the Bishop, he explained.

Fr. Evaristus described corporate stewardship as an outcome of various personal stewardships, in unity of purpose; that is working as a group to carry out their duties. He further emphasized on corporate stewardship through reference to the CYON Constitution, Section 2: 1.3 that states, that ”Members of CYON are called upon to support and be loyal to the constituted authority of the Catholic Church in its mission to the world”.

‘Being a leader in any CYON authorities makes the person to be a role model to others. It is the understanding of personal stewardship and personal discipline that will help you to handle any position of authority in such a way that it bears good fruit in the Church, society and individual’s salvation,’ he explained.

The second speaker of the day, the Diocesan Chancellor, Rev Fr. Charles Ndubisi, made a presentation titled; ”Framework of Leadership”. He described a leader as a person who knows the way, walks the way and inspired others to walk the way.

He referenced  Jesus as the living water and Jesus as the good shepherd which he described as the concept of good leadership.

Fr. Ndubisi urged the youth leaders to know what they want to achieve, discuss it among the executive members and be able to inspire the followers.

Interactive discussions took place during Fr. Ndubisi’s presentation which centered on ”Reasons why youths abandon their Catholic Faith and engage in all manner of fetish activities and solution- measures to control it”.

During the interaction, Miss. Chinyere Mbonu of St Mary’s Parish, Awka, highlighted some of the challenges as girls not being allowed to marry outside the Catholic Church; refusal of mixed marriage; Catholic men marrying other Christian denominations; honoring the rich for their huge donations in the Church, especially those their sources of wealth are questionable.

Some other challenges highlighted were; depression that leads to desire for quick money, resulting in ritual practices; neo-paganism; delay to marry; wedding son or daughter of a rich man; unfair treatment to the youths from poor background, which is different from the rich; lack of employment and sponsorship.

Some of the solutions proffered were employment; less praise for the rich in the church; fair treatment irrespective of financial status; empowerments; inter-denominational marriage, among others.

Fr. Ndubisi appreciated the youths for pointing out those challenges. He said, ‘All you said are all noted, changes are not automatic but a process that will be actualized with time. If it starts today, it will gradually get positive effects.’

He further noted that the Church was doing her best to get the youths productive and urged the youths not to be distracted anymore but to choose and master a career or skill and trust the process for a brighter future.

Another speaker of the day, Hon Vincent Akuewulu, told the youths that leadership goes  with learning.

‘Before you become a leader, you learn as a follower and as a leader you become open to learn more that will help you become effective in leadership,’ he said.

Akuewulu said that leadership involves sacrifice, self-discipline and being visionary.

‘In a situation where there is poor result or records, the leader should think outside the box to get proper ways to correct such and actualize good results,’ he explained.

Speaking to Fides, Hon. Akuewulu said the leadership summit was about training young people to be effective and efficient in church leadership, noting also that training young people to be efficient in church leadership would equally be a starting point of having responsible leaders in larger society.

The President of the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Mr. Anthony Nwosu, who was also one of the guest speakers, urged youth leaders to be mindful of their characters in public as the members look up to them.

He noted that a leader is a role model with good character in order not to give room for bias while discharging leadership roles.

Fides gathered that the Leadership Summit holds every four years, with the last held in 2018.

The committee chairman of the Leadership Summit, who doubles as the CYON Director of Socials, Comrade Augustine Okonkwo, from St Joseph’s Parish, Awgbu, under Awgbu Deanery, thanked God for the safe trip of the members to the venue and prayed for safety as they journeyed back.

He thanked the guest speakers for their lectures and assured that the youths would put them into practice for leadership growth in the Church and society.

The Diocesan Youth President, Comrade. Austin Ubosi, thanked God for the successful holding of the 2023 Leadership Summit of CYON, Awka Diocese; just as he thanked the committee and others that made the summit a success. He advised the youths to put all they learned at the summit into practice.

Comrade Ubosi noted that CYON was not a permanent base and therefore urged them to make a difference and set a standard for others  to emulate.

‘More is expected from us as leaders and this leadership summit has taught us the need to respect the Church’s teachings while discharging our duties in our various parishes,’ he said.

The 2023 Leadership Summit of the Awka Diocesan CYON featured Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Mass and Confession.