...Visits Almae Matres
By Nwankwo Francis
Once strangers, then school mates, and now fraternal comrades brought together in a happy bond of brotherhood, excellence and service, alumni of St Dominic Savio and St Johnbosco Seminaries convened a maiden 3 day convention from Friday 5th October to Sunday 7th October, 2018. Held at the inspiring Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat and Pastoral Centre, Okpuno, the convention had priests and laity from within and outside Nigeria
Unreserved excitement and enthusiasm were very evident from the first day of the convention as friends united and interacted over dinner once more after so many years of parting. The second day of the Retreat started with a Pontifical Mass led by the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor.
In his homily, the Bishop praised the members of SABAA who had taken the bold initial step of forming the organization and building it up. He charged them to build the organization on the foundation of brotherliness, assisting each other and the seminaries that helped to form them.
In a Lecture titled, SEMINARY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION; A FORCE FOR THE FUTURE, the Dean of Student Affairs, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Stanley Udedi described the SABAA as a special Alumni given its link to the seminary and comprising uncommon blend of priests and laity on a very fraternal platform. He charged the Alumni to make economic, social and political integration of her members a priority as this would ensure the sustainability of the association. Furthermore, Prof, Okafor, an ex-seminarian of St Paul's Seminary, Ukpor tasked SABAA to take special care of the weaker segment in the group especially the youths and impoverished.
The Mass was followed by a brief meeting during which issues affecting the organization were discussed and charted ways to move it forward.
The Alumni separated into two groups and paid courtesy visit to their Almae Matres at Akpu and Isuaniocha. At St Dominic Savio Seminary Akpu, the alumni were welcomed with so much excitement and fanfare.
In his welcome speech the Rector of the Seminary, Rev. Fr. Linus Ibekwe expressed his delight at the first visit of the alumni and support to the Seminary, a seminary he remarked, has graduated over 3400 students now spread in different spheres of life as priests and laity. SABAA took time to interact with the formators and students and further went round the school inspecting the facilities and fondly reminiscing memories of their days therein.
On behalf of the group, Sir Chidubem Cee Cee Iloghalu KSM thanked the seminary family for the wonderful work they have been doing in the seminary and assured them of the continued support of the alumni.
It was also a similar case at St Johnbosco Seminary, Isunaiocha where the entire seminary family led by the Rector, Rev. Fr. Augustine Okochi joyfully welcomed the group and took them round the seminary compound. Led by the SABAA National President, Mr Celestine .U. Oguegbu, the group thanked the seminary family for the warm reception and much efforts at taking care of the seminary and the young seminarians. He reassured of the continual commitment of the Alumni to the betterment of their Alma mater.
During the visitations, each seminary received a cow and other food items from the Alumni Association.
On the final night of the convention, in a round table and over dinner, members of the Alumni discussed the well-being of the seminaries and the seminarians. In his vote of thanks, the National president of SABAA, Mr Celestine Oguegbu thanked the Diocesan Bishop, National Executives, the Convention Planning Committee, and all members of SABAA who in one way or the other had contributed to the very obvious success of its maiden edition. He also noted that next edition, will be grander. He urged the members never to relent in their effort on building a strong, efficient and brotherly SABAA for the good of the members, their almamatres, the church and the society in general.
Finally, the attendees went back to their different bases, fulfilled and greatly inspired.