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17TH FEBRUARY 2010 CELEBRATION

OBLATE MISSION MARKS 20 YEARS IN NIGERIA

Fr George Chidi IHEANACHO, omi - Nigeria Mission Superior - Homily

omi NigeriaThe Oblate feast of 17th February was this year anticipated to the 16th in the oblate world as the 17th February fell on an Ash Wednesday. The Nigeria oblate mission joined other oblates in the world to thank God for the 184th anniversary of the papal approval of our Congregation and its Constitutions and Rules. This year’s celebration was unique as the mission clocked 20 years. The celebration focused on the implications and challenges of the 17th February for the Nigeria mission (cf. Mission Superior’s homily/message). As over a distance of 800 kms separates the two oblate missions in Nigeria, the Oblates in the south-east Nigeria gathered in an oblate-run parish, Saint Joseph Catholic Church Obibi, in Orlu diocese, to celebrate with their parishioners. In the north-central part of the mission, where the Mission Superior resides for now, the celebration was spread in a three-day ceremony.

It all started on Saturday the 13th of February with a debate/quiz organized by the Director Nigeriaof the Oblate Centre, Fr Cornelius NNABUIFE, with the oblate aspirants opposing the youth of the oblate-run parish Saint Gabriel Catholic Church Jebbu-Bassa. The debate centered on current affairs and on religious issues. A lot of youths, both boys and girls, turned out for the august event. As one world expect, the young oblate aspirants won the competition with the score of 31 points against 21 points scored by the parish youth.

 The second day of the festivities was on Sunday the 14th. It was marked by a novelty football matched between the same parish youth and the oblate aspirants. The event took place in the football pitch of the Oblate Centre in Bassa. This time around, the youths of the parish had their positive revenge and trashed the oblate youths 6 goals to 2. It was an event filled with lots of fun and conviviality. The end of the competition was a time of sharing some soft drinks and snacks with all those present including the villagers from around the Oblate Centre. Certainly a way of sharing the Saint Valentine love!

NigeriaThese activities all culminated in the religious ceremony of Tuesday the 16th of February in the parish centre. In the evening at 4pm, all the Oblates in the north-central part of Nigeria gathered for a thanksgiving mass, the renewal of their vows and their re-consecration to Mary Immaculate. The nascent oblate lay associates were present and joined in the rededication to Mary Immaculate. A good number of parishioners also joined in the celebrations. By the time we came out from the Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Superior of the mission, Fr George Chidi IHEANACHO, the compound of the parish house was filled with participants at the mass. As one would expect, we maintained the “Missa-Mensa” relationship and invited all present to have a share in the fraternal snacks and drinks the mission treasurer, Fr Martin OBIKARA, had prepared.

NigeriaThe majority of those who were present was made up of youths; a success indeed as they were our target-audience. More so, the mission had the vision of availing herself of the occasion of the 17th February celebration to reach-out to the youths and encourage vocation to the Oblate life. This was in line with one of the objectives of the foundation of the Nigeria mission in 1990. This was all the more important as the mission was alsomarking her 20th anniversary of existence in Nigeria. One would recall that it was on the 17th of February 1990 that the pioneer oblates celebrated their send-forth mass in Ngaoundere Cameroun and departed for Nigeria.

As we join the Oblate world in celebrating our presence in the Universal Church for the past 184 years, may our Mother Mary Immaculate always be by our side to guide and defend us from all harm in our ministry with the people of God in Nigeria. Homily

 

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10/05/05