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By Gozie Ukasoanya

Activities marking this year’s Owerri Archdiocesan Mission Education Week have ended with a reminder that God has planted both the schoolchildren and tutors in various places of academic endeavour for them to grow and bear fruits for the good of the society.

The Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna stated this at Maria Assumpta Cathedral when students, pupils and teachers from the various Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools run by the Owerri Archdiocese converged for this year’s Education Week grand finale Mass, recently.

The Archbishop who spoke in line with the event’s theme: Child Protection in Catholic Mission observed that academic exercise and Catholic faith were like two marriageable essential factors the Church finds expedient not to separate.

“Our school environment is not only a place to nurture academic knowledge but also avenue to grow and teach the child the knowledge of God,” the prelate stated, while advising the schoolchildren to always heed the wise counsel of their teachers, just as he urged the teachers to discharge their duties with diligence, love and fear of God.

The metropolitan of Owerri who is also the proprietor of the schools was assisted at the Mass by the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Ijemaru, Archdiocesan Education Director, Rev. Fr. Dr. Moses Chikwe as well as priest principals of schools.

Chief Mrs. Theresa Okonkwo, Chairperson Education Commission was also at the Mass with retinue of other Principals and Head teachers comprising female religious and lay faithful.
At the reception where the event shifted for social activities, the Archdiocesan Education Director took time to present his address of welcome, where he described the annual event as their education fiesta.

“When you look at the list of schools in the Archdiocese and growth overtime, one will begin to understand the immense contributions the Archdiocese is making to the education of the citizens of the state and the employment opportunities thereof”.

Reminding that the event was coming on a belated time, as a result of the country’s just concluded general election, Fr. Chikwe who reflected on the theme of the event emphasized the need to always protect children against abuse. This task, he noted, remains “even grave for us in mission schools,” adding that “we not only owe the obligation to parents and entire human society, we owe it to God who has entrusted the responsibility of caring and guiding his little ones”.

Expressing delight over the success of the event, the priest lauded the fatherly advice and encouragements of Archbishop Obinna. For members of the Education Commission, organizers of the event, chaired by Rev. Fr. Cyprian Ogu and all the dignitaries, Fr. Chikwe said he was enthused by their sense of supportive efforts.

Earlier in an opening remark at the event which featured Drama, Cultural dance and Indian Calisthenics, Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Darlington Akukwu also bared his mind on the event’s theme. Just as he called on parents to distinguish themselves positively in the act of child-nurturing, the Chairman who was represented by his wife, urged teachers and guardians to be resolute in the fight against child abuse.

Other activity at the event was presentation of academic and sporting awards/prizes, which was handed over to deserving recipients by Archbishop Obinna and Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu. It should be recalled that the Education Week which began days earlier with community service, football match and opening Mass in various parishes also had Lectures and Seminar with the topics: Child Protection in Catholic Mission Schools, The Psychological Implications of Child Abuse and The Legal Implications of Child Abuse. They were delivered by Rev. Fr. Dr. Uzochukwu Njoku, Rev. Sr. Dr. Mary Frances Ezeakunne and Barr. Ijeoma Ohaka, respectively.

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