PASTORAL ISSUES

Arrival of the early missionaries and challenges

  1. Christianity came into our fatherland through the instrumentality of foreign missionaries. The Anglicans on the one hand, piloted by the Church Missionary Society, and Catholics on the other, spearheaded by the Holy Ghost Fathers. The Holy Ghost Fathers were represented by French missionaries Frs. Lutz and Lejeune. They could not stay the test of time because of the political squabbles between the French and the British colonial masters. As a quick and timely response, the Irish missionaries were brought in, led by Fr. Joseph Shanahan, later Bishop. The issue is that the Christianity brought to us was a divided Christianity and since then, we have been victims of the effect of the divisions, and this has continued to affect our dealings with our separated brethren. We started fighting without knowing why.
  2. The Second Vatican Council encourages us to go back to our Bible. Our concern is how to improve our knowledge of the Bible. This concern could be expressed in three ways: know your faith, live your faith, share your faith. The Catholic faith is in the Bible, the Magisterium, papal documents, pastoral letters, etc. Ardour, Method, and Better expressions are fresh ways of evangelization.

The Church in Onitsha Archdiocese in Relation to Culture and Tradition

  1. The Vatican II Council Fathers teach that the Church is not opposed to any culture that is not contrary to the gospel of Christ (Gaudium et Spes, 58). The Synod acknowledges the indispensability of our culture in evangelization. Onitsha Archdiocese is taking the lead in being culture friendly and in upholding the Church’s teaching on inculturation because; individuals are deeply connected to a culture and are influenced by it. Culture however is a product of people’s world view and as such, it is imperfect and so needs transformation. This is why Pope Paul VI declares that what matters is to evangelize man’s culture or cultures (not in a purely decorative way as it were by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in-depth and right to the roots) … always taking the person as one’s starting point and always coming back to the relationship of people among themselves and with God (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 20). The Synod therefore frowns seriously against the deceits and duplicity witnessed among some of our Christians in the name of culture. “Ima mmanwu” and “Ozo uka” were cited as examples. Forcing people against their wish to be involved in practices against their faith was vehemently repudiated. Example is forcing widows to go and wash in a stream to remove the mourning cloth of their deceased husbands.

On-Going Catechesis

  1. Ignorance is one of the primary reasons why many of our members leave the church to join other ecclesial communities. Evidently, this will not be the case if people are at home with the teachings of the church and the meaning of their Christian vocation. Our Igbo Catechism book is very rich and a compendium of the theological teachings of the church. The Synod upholds the need for there to be continuity in catechetical instructions. This is to be done through Catechetical Week, Sunday Evening Instructions and a continued reading of the catechism book even after one has received the initial sacraments.

Pastoral Charity

  1. There is a close link between mission and charity. The huge success recorded by our founding Fathers in the faith is not unconnected with the charity and love with which they evangelized our people. The Synod holds that this must be practised even with greater favour now. Urban parishes need to help parishes in rural areas. The Synod is aware that this practice was mandated years ago. Parishes concerned are encouraged to devote more effort to it now. The mission effort must be renewed and re-energized given the present day faith situation and challenges. In general pastoral charity needs to be extended to all Catholics at large. Often it appears that we do not care enough for our own people especially when they get challenged health wise or even economically. There is urgent need to create and empower basic Christian communities for interactions among members. The poor and aged in the Archdiocese need to be taken good care of. Those challenged economically can go for loans from Oluchukwu Micro-Finance Bank to help them get back on track. Every parish is to have a body to look into the welfare of the poor, the sick and the old.

Laity and the Statutory Bodies

  1. The lay faithful must be encouraged because they constitute 99% of the Church and they witness wherever they are. Our religion does not end with Mass. We are commissioned to practise and share what we have done at Mass. More than every other person, the lay faithful are involved in this in their daily lives. Their apostolate in the family, schools, etc. is of interest to Christ. The Synod calls on the laity and laity council to wake up and start Mobi-Laity in parishes at all levels. This will help the Church in the Archdiocese get more committed members, active and alive to the demands of the gospel and the society at large, including politics. Those involved with the management of the laity, especially the laity council were called upon to be more accountable to their members especially on the issue of finance. Members of other statutory bodies are reminded that they all are members of the Laity Council.
  2. The Synod observes with concern that The Catholic Men Organization is not as active and committed as it should be. They were asked to make their programme and meetings more captivating so as to attract younger men and tepid members. They can do this by introducing issues on family life, health, education etc. This will make members not understand their meetings as only occasions to exploit them for money.
  3. The Synod lauds the ever committed Catholic Women Organization (C.W.O) of the Archdiocese of Onitsha. Their presence is always felt. She is however concerned with the uneasy calm bedeviling the organization at all levels. Elections to different offices in the organization remained the burning issue. It was reported that some of them still in office have overstayed and many women have stopped attending meetings because of this situation. The Synod therefore urges that C.W.O elections in the Archdiocese should be conducted simultaneously, together with the zonal organizers and the tenure of office should be respected at all levels while those serving at the Archdiocesan levels should be determined or appointed by the Archbishop or at his discretion. Accountability to members was also advised.
  4. The Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (C.Y.O.N) is really doing great at the central level. The Synod welcomed this development with joy and gratitude. She enjoined parishes to strengthen the organization at the parish levels also and ensure that more members get enrolled. Those of them slacking in faith especially with the modern deceptive prosperity preaching need to be catechized for renewal and commitment. Those of them who are up to the age of marriage must be helped with catechism to understand what they are getting into.
  5. The National Association of Catholic Corpers (NACC) is a recognized body in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. These Youth Corpers serving within the territorial boundaries of Onitsha Archdiocese should be given a sense of belonging in the youth apostolate.
  6. The Catholic Boys Organization (C.B.O) and Catholic Girls Organization (C.G.O) are statutory bodies in the Archdiocese for children between the ages of twelve (12) and twenty-one (21) completed. The children between 1 and 12 belong to The Holy Childhood Association (HCA). The Synod called on parents to ensure that their children are members. The parish priests must give them the attention needed, though people are free to join the youth group (CYON) as from the age of seventeen (17).

Creation of Parishes/Boundary Adjustments

  1. The Synod was grateful to the Archbishop for the parishes recently created which have brought Mass centres nearer to the people. Churches and worship centers are now within short distances for the people. She noted with sadness that tussles for territorial boundaries have remained a cog in the wheel of this blessing.  The Synod therefore slated that before a parish is created, there should be proper investigation from Archdiocesan team. They are to take charge of the boundary adjustments. For boundary disputes between neighbouring parishes, the Archbishop is to be involved to avoid unnecessary rancor between priests, the lay faithful and sometimes some villagers. 

Part One

PASTORAL ISSUES

Arrival of the early missionaries and challenges

  1. Christianity came into our fatherland through the instrumentality of foreign missionaries. The Anglicans on the one hand, piloted by the Church Missionary Society, and Catholics on the other, spearheaded by the Holy Ghost Fathers. The Holy Ghost Fathers were represented by French missionaries Frs. Lutz and Lejeune. They could not stay the test of time because of the political squabbles between the French and the British colonial masters. As a quick and timely response, the Irish missionaries were brought in, led by Fr. Joseph Shanahan, later Bishop. The issue is that the Christianity brought to us was a divided Christianity and since then, we have been victims of the effect of the divisions, and this has continued to affect our dealings with our separated brethren. We started fighting without knowing why.
  2. The Second Vatican Council encourages us to go back to our Bible. Our concern is how to improve our knowledge of the Bible. This concern could be expressed in three ways: know your faith, live your faith, share your faith. The Catholic faith is in the Bible, the Magisterium, papal documents, pastoral letters, etc. Ardour, Method, and Better expressions are fresh ways of evangelization.

The Church in Onitsha Archdiocese in Relation to Culture and Tradition

  1. The Vatican II Council Fathers teach that the Church is not opposed to any culture that is not contrary to the gospel of Christ (Gaudium et Spes, 58). The Synod acknowledges the indispensability of our culture in evangelization. Onitsha Archdiocese is taking the lead in being culture friendly and in upholding the Church’s teaching on inculturation because; individuals are deeply connected to a culture and are influenced by it. Culture however is a product of people’s world view and as such, it is imperfect and so needs transformation. This is why Pope Paul VI declares that what matters is to evangelize man’s culture or cultures (not in a purely decorative way as it were by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in-depth and right to the roots) … always taking the person as one’s starting point and always coming back to the relationship of people among themselves and with God (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 20). The Synod therefore frowns seriously against the deceits and duplicity witnessed among some of our Christians in the name of culture. “Ima mmanwu” and “Ozo uka” were cited as examples. Forcing people against their wish to be involved in practices against their faith was vehemently repudiated. Example is forcing widows to go and wash in a stream to remove the mourning cloth of their deceased husbands.

On-Going Catechesis

  1. Ignorance is one of the primary reasons why many of our members leave the church to join other ecclesial communities. Evidently, this will not be the case if people are at home with the teachings of the church and the meaning of their Christian vocation. Our Igbo Catechism book is very rich and a compendium of the theological teachings of the church. The Synod upholds the need for there to be continuity in catechetical instructions. This is to be done through Catechetical Week, Sunday Evening Instructions and a continued reading of the catechism book even after one has received the initial sacraments.

Pastoral Charity

  1. There is a close link between mission and charity. The huge success recorded by our founding Fathers in the faith is not unconnected with the charity and love with which they evangelized our people. The Synod holds that this must be practised even with greater favour now. Urban parishes need to help parishes in rural areas. The Synod is aware that this practice was mandated years ago. Parishes concerned are encouraged to devote more effort to it now. The mission effort must be renewed and re-energized given the present day faith situation and challenges. In general pastoral charity needs to be extended to all Catholics at large. Often it appears that we do not care enough for our own people especially when they get challenged health wise or even economically. There is urgent need to create and empower basic Christian communities for interactions among members. The poor and aged in the Archdiocese need to be taken good care of. Those challenged economically can go for loans from Oluchukwu Micro-Finance Bank to help them get back on track. Every parish is to have a body to look into the welfare of the poor, the sick and the old.

Laity and the Statutory Bodies

  1. The lay faithful must be encouraged because they constitute 99% of the Church and they witness wherever they are. Our religion does not end with Mass. We are commissioned to practise and share what we have done at Mass. More than every other person, the lay faithful are involved in this in their daily lives. Their apostolate in the family, schools, etc. is of interest to Christ. The Synod calls on the laity and laity council to wake up and start Mobi-Laity in parishes at all levels. This will help the Church in the Archdiocese get more committed members, active and alive to the demands of the gospel and the society at large, including politics. Those involved with the management of the laity, especially the laity council were called upon to be more accountable to their members especially on the issue of finance. Members of other statutory bodies are reminded that they all are members of the Laity Council.
  2. The Synod observes with concern that The Catholic Men Organization is not as active and committed as it should be. They were asked to make their programme and meetings more captivating so as to attract younger men and tepid members. They can do this by introducing issues on family life, health, education etc. This will make members not understand their meetings as only occasions to exploit them for money.
  3. The Synod lauds the ever committed Catholic Women Organization (C.W.O) of the Archdiocese of Onitsha. Their presence is always felt. She is however concerned with the uneasy calm bedeviling the organization at all levels. Elections to different offices in the organization remained the burning issue. It was reported that some of them still in office have overstayed and many women have stopped attending meetings because of this situation. The Synod therefore urges that C.W.O elections in the Archdiocese should be conducted simultaneously, together with the zonal organizers and the tenure of office should be respected at all levels while those serving at the Archdiocesan levels should be determined or appointed by the Archbishop or at his discretion. Accountability to members was also advised.
  4. The Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (C.Y.O.N) is really doing great at the central level. The Synod welcomed this development with joy and gratitude. She enjoined parishes to strengthen the organization at the parish levels also and ensure that more members get enrolled. Those of them slacking in faith especially with the modern deceptive prosperity preaching need to be catechized for renewal and commitment. Those of them who are up to the age of marriage must be helped with catechism to understand what they are getting into.
  5. The National Association of Catholic Corpers (NACC) is a recognized body in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. These Youth Corpers serving within the territorial boundaries of Onitsha Archdiocese should be given a sense of belonging in the youth apostolate.
  6. The Catholic Boys Organization (C.B.O) and Catholic Girls Organization (C.G.O) are statutory bodies in the Archdiocese for children between the ages of twelve (12) and twenty-one (21) completed. The children between 1 and 12 belong to The Holy Childhood Association (HCA). The Synod called on parents to ensure that their children are members. The parish priests must give them the attention needed, though people are free to join the youth group (CYON) as from the age of seventeen (17).

Creation of Parishes/Boundary Adjustments

  1. The Synod was grateful to the Archbishop for the parishes recently created which have brought Mass centres nearer to the people. Churches and worship centers are now within short distances for the people. She noted with sadness that tussles for territorial boundaries have remained a cog in the wheel of this blessing.  The Synod therefore slated that before a parish is created, there should be proper investigation from Archdiocesan team. They are to take charge of the boundary adjustments. For boundary disputes between neighbouring parishes, the Archbishop is to be involved to avoid unnecessary rancor between priests, the lay faithful and sometimes some villagers. 

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Masses @ The Basilica of Most Holy Trinity

Sunday: 5:15am, 7:00am, 8:30am, 10:30am & 6:15pm. Thursday: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 6:15pm. Saturday Evening: 5:30pm (Mass with Vespers 1 of Sunday). Monday-Saturday: 5:15am, 6:00am & 6:15pm. Other Masses outside the Basilica Church: 5:30am, 6:00am, 7:15am, 8:45am & 9:00am.