By Mercy Hill
Catholic Knighthood started in the middle ages with Catholics forming themselves into small armies to escort Christian pilgrims to and from the Holy Land because of the situation of war at that time. The Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba was established in Nigeria, June 14, 1953, by the late Fr. Abraham Anselm Isidahome Ojefua; a priest and monk from the Illah Monastery in present day Delta State and modeled after the Sacred Order of the Catholic Knighthood. Ever since then the numbers have been steadily increasing.
The female wing, known as Ladies of Saint Mulumba (LSM), was inaugurated on June 24, 1978 in Calabar. It is worthy of note that the order has since then established its presence as the knights of St. Matia Mulumba Kampala, Uganda in 2004 and the Knights of Mulumba, Mamfe , Cameroun in 2008.
Only practicing Catholic Men and their wives are admitted into knighthood. Membership spans all cadres of professionals such as government administrative staff, teachers, lawyers, businessmen, professors, engineers, and bankers, among others.
The Order of KSM has successfully initiated their initial aim and objectives to include counteracting the harm done by many secret societies to the Church and to arrest the influx of enlightened Christian members into those harmful groups, as well as bringing Catholics together in a fraternity.
Annually, KSM holds a supreme council convention, where delegates of the order from various states in the country converge at a specified and agreed location for deliberation on issues affecting them and their environment.
Recently, the order of KSM, held her 39th Supreme Council Convention at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Awka, Anambra State with her theme as ''Deepening Christian Spirituality for Peace: Trends, Prospects and Challenges''. The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, His Lordship Prof. Godfrey Ona, was chief discussant. The Bishop in his contribution to the theme, reflected that peace was central to human life, pointing out that modern Christianity had become superficial and worldly.
He noted that this had caused people to stop pondering on the hereafter. He urged Knights, who he described as models of Christ, to grasp the challenge to deepen Christianity using every material at their disposal to tackle injustices, religious and political bigotry, and oppression, among others.
He also charged them to educate the minds of people to the culture of peace and summed up the discourse with a challenge to the Knights who he described as mirrors reflecting Christ, saints and martyrs, to propagate peace through their various offices in society.
In his words, 'If you want to deepen Christian spirituality for Nigeria, you have to change your disposition as Christians.'
He stated that change in attitude should be the stand point for any order that wanted to bring cohesion and peace in Nigeria.
The convention had kick started with a Holy Mass, with the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Hillary Okeke, the homilist. He urged the knights to show true service to God, describing God as the master of peace. He stated that Knights should be ambassadors of the teachings of Christ and urged them to uphold the attitude of the saints, combating evil for the promotion of Christianity, as well as looking for practical lessons of peaceful co-existence.
It was in like manner that the Supreme Knight, Bro Diamond Ovueraye, who gave an insight of the convention, said that the theme of the convention was carefully chosen to aid Christians in reflecting on their spirituality and invariably take up the task to proffer newer trends with the hope of creating a better Nigeria, as well as assess their spiritual lives and to propose a way for exemplary life, just as the pioneer of the Order St. Mulumba.
At the 2018 Supreme Council Convention, the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, represented by his principal Secretary, Sir Willie Nwokoye, described Anambra State as a mirror reflecting peace, noting that indigenes and none indigenes had been enjoying relative peace and stability since the Obiano Administration.
He said the state had been rated the safest among its counterparts and advised that it should be replicated in other states. He however encouraged the Knights to continue being models of change and peaceful co-existence in their various states and communities.
Chiefs and traditional rulers who are also members of KSM present at the event, included the traditional ruler of Nike, in Enugu State, Igwe Julius Nnaji; that of Ekwulobia, HRH, Sir Chukwukadibia Onyeneke and Igwe of Azigbo, Sir Christopher Umeariba. They described Christ as the King of peace after whom Christians should model their lives.
They all pledged to continue being ambassadors of peace and harmony in their various communities.
The three-day event began with a press briefing, November 29, at St Mulumba Hall, St Patrick's Cathedral, Awka, where the Knights were exhorted to elect those who would defend their faith, even as they decried what they described as Nigeria's descent to anarchy.
It will be recalled that the pioneers of KSM, St. Mulumba, Fr. Abraham Anselm Isidahome, as well as saints and martyrs of old, were postulators and models of peace and exemplary living.
As such, it is expected that Catholic Knighthood should not be an order known for showcasing their uniforms and wealth. Rather, it is expected to be a mirror reflecting Christ.
According to the Supreme Knight, Bro Diamond Ovueraye, the Knights of Saint Mulumba is an association of practicing Catholic men, willing to volunteer their time, treasure and talent, for the service of God, Church and their fellow men.
Said he, 'The knights are charged to live exemplary Catholic lives, making use of the sacraments, to grow in the grace of God. The knight is knowledgeable, in his local customs and relates them to Catholic doctrine, thoughts and life.
'He is an avowed defender of the Catholic faith, gives succour to the needy and fights oppression wherever it exists.'
This and many more formed the essential points of the 2018, 39th Supreme Council Convention of the Knights of St. Mulumba.