Mission of the Church
- The vocation of the Church is to evangelize. This is the primary mission Christ entrusted to his Church when he mandated her to “go therefore and make disciples of nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you always, to the end of time” (Mt.28:19-20). In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI clearly asserts that “Evangelization is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize that is to say, in order to preach and teach” (n.14).
- The synod highly commends all the agents of evangelization in the Archdiocese of Onitsha for their diligence in carrying out the work of disseminating the gospel in our Archdiocese and beyond. In this regard the synod appreciates the sacrifices of many dedicated priests, religious men and women, catechists, catholic teachers and all those who contribute in one way or the other in spreading the good news of salvation.
Ignorance of the Doctrine
- However, the synod observes that ignorance in the area of Catholic doctrine and faith still constitutes a great challenge to the full appreciation of the salvation brought to humanity by Christ. The prophecy of Hosea that “my people perish for lack of knowledge”, still holds true for a good number of the faithful in our Archdiocese. At this point, the synod feels the duty to invite all hands to be on deck in the area of catechesis in order to assist all the Catholic faithful of Onitsha Archdiocese to know their faith, live their faith and share their faith.
- In the first place, the synod reminds all that in as much as we evangelize the individual person, the subject of evangelization that is Jesus Christ, needs to be given the primary place. This involves having a personal encounter with Christ by moving from the head experience to the heart experience of Christian faith. Pope Benedict XVI eloquently points out that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est, n.1). This encounter is by grace and not by personal effort, yet without it, one remains an empty gong and can hardly be committed to his Christian vocation.
Sunday Evening Instruction
- The Synod happily invites all priests working in the Archdiocese of Onitsha to dedicate more time and energy in using the Sunday evening instruction as a veritable means of deepening the faith already planted in the heart of our people. Failure to attend the Sunday Evening Instructions on the part of the lay faithful should be seen as a serious omission of one of the important Sunday obligations. In order to make this possible the Synod strongly recommends that all meetings on Sunday Evenings should be avoided.
- The Synod calls on all retreat preachers to prepare very well in order to have messages to give to the faithful especially on Catholic doctrine, the family, the cross, etc. This applies also to those who teach during Catechetical Week since many absent themselves from these because they scarcely learn anything from the teachers.
- This Synod also notes with serious concern about the pervading aberrations and wrong teachings militating against the local Church in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. Some pious associations teach their adherents to receive Holy Communion only from priests, and that they must kneel down to receive. Worse still, many now abandon the God of the sacramentals for the sacramentals of God. This has led to the introduction and over-multiplication of non-approved sacramentals in the Chruch. This synod therefore invites all the faithful to go back to our old penny catechism since it is very rich in theology and must be read constantly by the young and old.
Bible and Catechesis
- Bible stories and teachings of the Church should be prepared as cartoons for children. Adequate catechesis should be given to candidates for the sacraments. As part of her catechetical responsibility, the lay faithful should be encouraged to enroll in their respective statutory bodies as their responsibility to God, and to humanity. Traditional practices like laity week, Marian week, etc should be re-emphasized.
Trinitas School of Evangelization
- As part of the effort to strengthen our evangelization strategies, the Synod notes the serious need to equip the Trinitas School of Evangelization and make it very functional. This school needs to be reactivated with adequate curriculum so as to train and form people after the heart of Christ and the Church. The Archdiocese may need to consider taken over the responsibility of market outreach program to assist in both the financial involvement and also enforce commitment on the part of the priests. The faithful must also be enlightened on the proper structure of the Church such that each group would be able to know its role and carry it out well. All agents of evangelization should live exemplary lives.
Curses and Blessings
- The Synod observes that there are lots of wrong teachings on curses and blessings in our day. Many faithful, easily, lose their faith as every misfortune is blamed on the fore fathers and evil spirits. It has become so bad that some even change their names. Worse still, some clergy and lay people who operate Healing Ministries charge exorbitantly to go for family or town prayer liberations. The Synod reiterates that through Christ is accomplished full and authentic liberation of the human person from sin, evil and death. St. Paul teaches that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal.3:13-15). Through Christ, God bestows new life that is divine and eternal. This Synod therefore calls on some of these priests and lay faithful to desist from exploiting the gullibility of our people and allow them to enjoy the free salvation wrought through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Doctrine of the Faith Committee
- The Synod reminds all the parishes about the need to take Doctrine of the Faith Committee seriously. The parish priests must encourage parishioners to participate in the Annual Quiz Competition organized by Doctrine of the Faith Committee so that our faithful will “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1Pet.3:15).