The President, Lagos Archdiocese Catholic Men Organization (LACMO), Barrister Vincent Otiono has commended steps taken by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to tackle Coronavirus Pandemic and other challenges in the State, noting that the Governor has exhibited high sense of Character and qualitative leadership.
The LACMO president in a statement he issued on Sunday, specifically commended the Governor’s handling of the Abule Ado fire explosions, adding that he should not forget the “suffering masses who lost their homes in the aftermath of the disaster”.
He pleaded with the Governor to as a matter of priority establish food bank and other palliative measures in the Abule Ado area of Lagos.
“The Abule Ado people are battling with twin disaster namely Explosions and Coronavirus Pandemic,” Otiono lamented.
He prayed that “Christ our leader will continue to guide our governor and grant him good health of mind and body to be able to tackle the enormous task confronting the state at this period of our existence”.
Otiono disclosed that about 40 members of Catholic Men Organizations lost their properties and means of livelihood as a result of the Abule Adopted explosions.
He said Abule Ado victims need food and humanitarian materials urgently, “so help ameliorate the effects of their losses; the aftermath of the current lockdown in Lagos State and other parts of the country.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province has urged young graduands of Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha to be transformational leaders as they go into the wider world.
The Archbishop who made this charge while delivering his keynote address during the 6th Convocation ceremony of the theological institution also exhorted the 2019 graduands of the Seminary that the vocation to the priesthood is a gift and a call to be a transformational leader.
He noted that transformational leader adds values and seeks for excellence. “Excellence is no match to branding and packaging. While branding and packaging limits itself to more of externals. Excellence seeks for the finest and highest quality of things,” he noted.
According to him, key ingredients of transformational leadership are knowledge and deep sense of service.
“When a leader stops knowing, he starts dying and become useless. A leader of an institution remains relevant,effective and efficient as long as that leader offers great values,” he also said.
The Convocation ceremony attracted people from all walks of life including the families and friends of graduands.
Present at the occasion were Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah (Bishop of Sokoto diocese,) Rev Professor Peter Damian Akpunonu, Professor Cyril Chukwudi Dim , (Professor of Obstetrics and gynaecology) the convocation paper presenter and host of other distinguished academic personnel from universities in and around the state.
Greetings from the Chancery. God bless you all.
You would recall that we issued a Special Circular on March 15, 2020, in which we gave further directives on the proactive ecclesiastical steps we needed to take as an Archdiocese to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We emphasized that these are critical times and as such critical measures needed to be taken. We also mentioned that we shall continue to monitor the situation in order to make adjustments as required.
The Corona Virus pandemic has continued to ravage the world and the number of people infected has increased at an alarming rate within one week in our country Nigeria. This has made the Government of Lagos State to put a limit on the number of people that can gather together in public at 50.
As a Church, we are concerned about Public health and welfare as well as the protection of our faith and practices at the same time. We have been rather appalled at the level of preparedness to confront the pandemic in our Public health facilities given the experiences related by some of those who have had the need to contact the facilities or have had to use them.
We worry that the areas that need to be addressed such as the land borders, (through which an infected person was reported to have already arrived in the country), are still largely unattended with regard to the coronavirus spread; the public transportation system and other public gatherings that could be sources of the spread of the virus are still very much unregulated. These make us fear that the measures we are to take with regards to public gathering to worship may be undermined by these other factors.
However, we have a responsibility to cooperate with government with regard to welfare of citizens while also taking cognizance of the sacredness of our faith and practices. For this reason, we are constrained to make some adjustments that would alter some aspects of our lives as a faith community.
Given our duty to help protect public health in cooperation with the State Government as well as protect the values of our faith, we hereby make the following pronouncements:
a. In line with the authority that devolves to the Local Ordinary at critical times such as this, we hereby pronounce that the elderly (65 years and above), pregnant women, nursing mothers and children below 18 years and those with serious health conditions who are more susceptible to infection by the virus are hereby relieved of their obligation to attend Mass even on Holy Days of Obligation and Sundays for the period of the next four weeks with immediate effect.
b. At this critical time, those among the faithful who consider that their health is jeopardized by attending Public gatherings, including Masses are also relieved of the obligation to attend Mass even on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation for the period of four weeks with immediate effect.
c. We actively encourage all the faithful to take advantage of following the Mass to be streamed live and on the Lumen Christi Television Network during the period of this emergency. We can make a Spiritual Communion at the appropriate time during the Mass. It is a part of our spiritual heritage that when circumstances such as the present one happens and we are not able to go to Mass, we can make a Spiritual Communion. Our faith teaches us that the Spiritual Communion is as effective as when we physically receive the sacred species, the Body and Blood of Christ. This is necessary so as to ensure that Sunday Masses are not crowded beyond the number
d. Celebration of Masses: Public Masses on Sundays would be with not more than 50 persons.
Parishes should consider making use of other available spaces within the Church premises such as Parish Halls to increase the number of Masses to be celebrated on Sundays.
Parishes should also use the Small Christian Communities as venues for Masses.
Parishes can also make use of projector screens to transmit Mass to other locations around the Church.
At this time, Saturday evening Mass in lieu of obligation for Sunday should be used more.
It is important to emphasize the need for maintaining the required social distance and spacing especially when attending Mass.
We shall review this present directive with regards to Public Mass in due course as we continue the process of discernment.
e. Other Sacraments:
At this time, Penitential Service with General Absolution is permitted,
taking care not to have more people than the recommended number and
with the appropriate social distance.
Visit of the sick for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick should be done ONLY when ABSOLUTELY necessary and should be done with extreme caution even if it means using cotton wool for the anointing and wearing facial masks.
Funerals should be celebrated only if absolutely unavoidable and should be with no more than 50 people in attendance.
f. Meetings of Societies: Associations of the lay faithful can have their meetings as long as they are not more than 50 people in attendance.
g. Devotions: Parishioners are encouraged to have the Stations of the Cross as private devotions. Blessing of religious articles and persons must be without touching.
h. Holy Week Ceremonies:
Palm Sunday: Public procession with Palm fronds is suspended. The Rite
of blessing palms in the Church is to be used.
Chrism Mass: The Chrism Masses would be only for Priests and those
appointed. It would be celebrated observing the required Social distance in the big Churches that we use for the two Masses. Priests should make arrangements to collect the Sacred Oils from the Chancery at their convenience.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Parish Priests should choose those who will be in attendance from among the different groups and Associations in accordance with the size of their Church buildings. There should be no washing of feet.
Good Friday: Veneration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday should also be by choosing those to be in attendance according to the size of the Churches ensuring that the Social distance required is maintained. Adoration of the cross would be by simple genuflection.
Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday: Celebration should be limited to those previously chosen according to the same conditions as on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Easter Monday: Parish Galilee Day Celebration is hereby suspended.
i. Live Streaming: Kindly note that efforts are being made that the activities of Holy Week would be streamed live from the Cathedral and would also be broadcast on Lumen Christi Television Network.
j. Churches: Our Churches remain open and are available for private prayers. We know that the importance of prayers cannot be overemphasized especially now. We need God’s intervention at this critical time more than ever before.
The checking of temperature is mandatory in all parishes.
Where possible running taps with soap should be provided around the church premises or at the very least hand sanitizers. He faithful should be encouraged to take their hand sanitizers with them all the time.
Parishes should enlist the help of medical and health workers to assist in creating awareness and sensitizing the faithful. We encourage our parishioners to avoid close contact with people who show symptoms of
Parishioners who feel unwell are strongly encouraged to seek medical
Knowing full well that the salvation of souls is the supreme law, we enjoin priests to apply pastoral discretion in carrying out the above directives.
Finally, my dear brothers and sisters, we want everyone to understand that these are extreme circumstances with safety of life and public health at stake. We expect all Catholics to comply with these directives. We strongly encourage all our people to intensify their prayers, both as individuals or families that the Lord will deliver us from this evil and bring an end to this Pandemic, bring healing to those affected and repose to the souls of those who have died. Be glad in hope, constant in tribulation, persevering in prayer. (Romans 12:12).
Ab omni malo: Libera nos Domine!
+Alfred Adewale MARTINS Archbishop of Lagos
March 20, 2020
Hundreds of Catholics in Anambra State on Sunday, shutdown Awka, the state capital in a march against what they called extreme insecurity, abductions and killings in Nigeria.
Led by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, they condemned the “brutal killing of innocent Nigerians and the high level of insecurity in the country.” They also called for the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, security agencies and the international organisations to halt continued violence in the country.
The march, which started from the Alex Ekwueme Square, terminated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, along Arthur Eze Avenue. The protesters, who recited the Holy Rosary as they marched, also sang songs expressing their demand for a safer, saner society.
Bishop Ezeokafor said: “We are protesting against the brutal killing of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and terrorist herdsmen. We are gathered to mourn the women, children, babies and men, who have been killed by the terrorists. We are particularly worried about how the terrorists target, abduct and kill seminarians and priests.”
He lamented the poor response of the Federal Government to the attacks on defenceless people by Boko Haram; referring to it as “far below average.”
He added: “We are gathered to let the Federal Government of Nigeria know that we are tired of hearing from them that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’ even when they still attack with impunity. The failure to protect innocent people from relentless attacks is evil. The lack of prosecution of terrorists is evil. The other day, we heard that the military had released hundreds of Boko Haram suspects. We also heard some time ago that FG is planning amnesty for Boko Haram suspects, who have ravaged Nigeria! The continued silence of the FG is breeding and sowing seeds of mistrust.
There has been jubilation among the teeming Catholic faithful in Anambra since news filtered in that Pope Francis has established the Diocese of Ekwulobia, and named Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke as its first bishop.
Okpaleke until this appointment was the Emeritus Bishop of Ahiara Diocese who resigned for peace to reign in the protracted crisis over the appointment of an indigenous bishop of the troubled Diocese of Ahiara.
Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor who read the letter from the Vatican announcing the appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as the new Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese to the faithful at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, described the development as a “pleasant news with joy and gladness.”
Bishop Ezeokafor disclosed that the new diocese was formed from a part of the territory of the Diocese of Awka, and would be a suffragan See of the Metropolitan See of Onitsha while the newly-created diocese would cover Akpu, Ekwulobia and Achina regions.
The bishop said a series of letters were written to the pope regarding the creation of new dioceses out of Awka Diocese in the past but the Vatican City turned it down and instead opted for an auxiliary bishop. He said he was surprised to receive a mail yesterday notifying him of the creation of Ekwulobia as a diocese and the appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as its first bishop.
“We had written lots of letters in the past asking the Vatican to give us two more dioceses, Ekwulobia and Adazi. It was turned down. They asked us instead to apply for an auxiliary bishop which we did and Bishop Jonas Benson was appointed as an auxiliary bishop in the year 2014. We did not stop there.
‘We continued to push because here in Awka Diocese, we have the highest number of priests and Awka is too big for one person to handle even with an auxiliary bishop. It was not easy. We are glad for this great news. We thank Pope Francis for these appointments; it is a great relief,” Bishop Ezeokafor concluded.
Reacting, the Awka Diocesan Chancellor, Very Fr. Francis Chidume, the Episcopal Vicar of Ekwuluobia region and the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Onwuatuegwu and the administrator of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Very Rev. Fr. Matthew Attansey expressed gratitude to God for the creation of Ekwulobia Diocese and also for the appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as the first bishop.
An aggrieved group of the Catholic faithful led by Bishops on Sunday shut down Abuja in protest over unending killings in Nigeria, which is perceived to be targeted at Christians, particularly in northern Nigeria.
The protesters demanded urgent action from the Federal Government to rescue the Christians in captivity, particularly Leah Sharibu, the Chibok schoolgirls and others held by Boko Haram terrorists.
They defied a Sunday afternoon heavy downpour in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory to hold a planned prayer procession.
In large numbers and under police protection, the aggrieved Catholics matched from the National Ecumenical Centre to Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Catholic Church, Area 3, Garki.
The prayer procession was led by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Bishop Augustine Akubueze, supported by other Catholic Bishops from across Nigeria, who gathered for the first CBCN conference of the year.
The former Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, joined in the protest.