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Ahead of the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Owerri Catholic Province, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna and Bishop Lucius Ugorji led a handful of provincial Catholic faithful to a symposium where the resolve to sustain the sacredness of the Church as well as its oneness and unity were reaffirmed.

The ground-breaking event which took place Monday June 3 at the auditorium of the Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary, Ulakwo, Owerri North LGA equally enjoyed the presence of Bishops of Okigwe and Orlu, represented by Very Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cajethan Ehiem and Very Rev. Fr. Ozioma Onyima respectively.

While the Administrator of Aba Diocese was represented by Rev. Fr. ObinnaAchilihu, lay faithful from the six dioceses of Owerri, Umuahia, Okigwe, Orlu, Ahiara and Aba were in attendance.

Introducing the Silver Jubilee Symposium under the title: “Rejoicing in and reflecting on the Catholic faith,” Archbishop Obinna announced the theme as: “Unity and solidarity in the Catholic Faith”. He stated that there were also two complementary papers to be presented to provide insights and to rekindle our faith-commitments and further stimulate or motivate us to share and spread the Catholic faith among us and beyond us.

Photo: Archbishop Anthony Obinna, Bishop Lucius Ugorji with the Seminary Rector and other key Provincial participants shortly before the end of the Symposium

The Metropolitan Archbishop, whose years of stewardship, coincides with the celebration, stressed the need to understand and appreciate what solidarity in the Catholic faith practically entails. He cited our Lord’s Prayer for love-unity among his believing disciples and Catholic memorial of African Ugandan Martyrs which has had just been celebrated, as occasions that should strengthen such disposition.

When it was time for the event’s paper presentation, Bishop Ugorji set the ball rolling with a lecture titled, Unity in the Catholic faith: From St. Peter to Pope Francis. As the paper which had the following subtitles: The oneness of the Church, Unity in diversity, Break in Church Communion through Heresy and Schism, Remorse over the Sin of disunity, step towards Christian unity, among others, made a gradual but steady link on the Church’s papacies, from St. Peter to Pope Francis, the Church’s unity and its oneness remained vivid throughout the discussions. .

This, the presenter, who doubles as Bishop of Umuahia and Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese even submitted earlier when noting that at “Holy Mass we profess our faith in a Church that is not just holy, Catholic and apostolic, but also one”. The unity and oneness of the Church, he maintained “is deeply rooted in the mystery of the Church”.
Pointing out why the unity of the Church ought to be maintained and sustained at a every strata of our religious being, Most Rev. Ugorji emphasized that such were the Master’s last statements when he prayed in John chapter 17 verse 21: “May they all be one”.

The Bishop’s paper ushered in Rev. Fr. Dr. Jude C. Ike, Owerri Archdiocesan priest whose paper on Solidarity in the Catholic faith: Martyrs, Confessors, Missionaries, the Abiding Connection, threw light on the beauty and richness of the Church’s spiritual life.

The follow up paper which was delivered shortly after an interlude choral rendition from the Seat of Wisdom Seminary Choir highlighted prominent ecclesiastical terminologies such as solidarity, martyrdom, confessors, missionaries, liturgies etc. While appraising those Church’s nomenclatures, the priest referred to them as necessary ingredients established for our spiritual uplift, since the salient reason why we commune as Church members hinged on our belief to aspire for heaven.

The symposium, which featured interactive session where participants were afforded the opportunity to ask questions, was moderated by Rev. Frs. Innocent MaduakolamOsuagwu and David AsonyeIhenaocha from Owerri and Ahiara Dioceses respectively.

Earlier, in his welcome remark, the Seminary Rector, Rev. Fr. Dr.Uzochukwu Njoku thanked the Bishops of the province for their pastoral leadership, while praying for a fruitful jubilee celebration.

The Symposium which was attended by Reverend Fathers, the religious, Archdiocesan and Diocesan Pastoral Councilors, CMO and CWO executive members and Knights of the church recorded a huge success. It would be recalled that Owerri Ecclesiastical Province was created on March 26, 1994 and the bishops of the Province early last year decided to make the 25th anniversary a spiritual-evangelizing event where the grand finale would take place this September.


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