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CALL FOR CRITICAL EVALUATION OF SPIRITUAL AND PASTORAL CHALLENGES FACING THE CHURCH

A call has been made for the critical and objective evaluation of the spiritual and pastoral challenges of the true practice of the Catholic faith in order to ensure the success of the mission of the Church in the country. The call was made by Rev. Monsignor Paschal Nwaezeapu in his homily at the Priestly and Diaconate ordination of six priests and one deacon for the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

The ordination ceremony which took place recently at the Our Mother of Perpetual help Catholic Church, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos, was performed by the local ordinary of the Archdiocese, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins. The homily was titled: Jesus is the Centre and His Mission is the only Mission. According to Msgr. Nwaezeapu,: “for the Church of our time to be successful in her mission, we need, as a matter of urgency, to critically and objectively evaluate where we are currently and make some critical, fundamental and perhaps, painful adjustments that can promote our mission.”

Pointing out that challenge in this perspective is enormous, the homilist outlined the areas to be addressed by the Church. His words: “The Catholic Church is the mother of all churches. We have the best theology; we have the richest doctrines; and we have history and experience on our side.” He continued: “From my observation, there are many Catholics who long for God and are truly striving for holiness. They understand the faith; they have a relationship with God, and they do their best to serve him;” but shockingly, these are in the minority, he added.

The challenges identified by the homilist include: mechanical attendance of the Holy Mass instead of a conscious and active participation that focuses on a personal encounter with “the Godhead, ongoing personal conversion, transformation, empowerment for mission and spiritual fruitfulness as well as having the culture of reading the Bible daily or regularly; handling Meditation or a Quiet time with God by most Catholics as many of them are not trained to hear God”.

The homilist also used the occasion to call on Catholic Priests to eschew tribalism and racism noting that these two among others constitute an anti-witness behavior and scandal. He then outlined the virtues and roles of the priest as well as what the priest is not.  According to him, the priest is a mediator between God and man as well as being a servant of God and servant-leader for the faithful of his parish.

On what the Catholic Priest is not, the homilist declared that he is not a politician, a businessman, and a social climber. He continued: “In spite of any weakness he may have, a Priest is not a vain person whose life is all about luxury and pleasure; not a hypocrite, a liar, a corrupt person or secret agent; nor is he a sycophant or self-centred person, among others. Msgr. Nwaezeapu went on to expatiate on why a priest should not be a tribalist or racist.

His words: “As a baptized, confirmed and ordained minister of God, he cannot condescend to a lower level of reasoning to share the same worldview as an AREWA or a MASSOB or an OPC member. Racism or tribalism in the Church is and will always be an anti-witness behavior and scandal. It is a reflection of deep-seated mental poverty and spiritual kwashiorkor. A tribal mind is a mind of bondage – oh yes, a tribalist is not a liberated individual.”

The homilist urged the ordinands to be Christ-like in their vocation and eschew all practices that could affect their priestly life stressing: “If you wish to excel in your priestly life and ministry, then follow and walk in His footsteps. In other words, learn from him.” He also called on families of the newly ordained not to burden them with family responsibilities, pointing out that: “The priesthood is not an investment for the family which is expected to yield returns in terms of money and other material things”.

 


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