By Ebere Orji
It was an auspicious day for Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu on Friday 19th March 2021 as she marked her 50th Convocation Ceremony as an affiliate of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome.
The event which commenced with a Holy Mass at the school chapel had The Auxiliary Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese, Most Rev. Patrick Eluke as the Convocation Prelate
In his homily, Bishop Patrick Eluke emphasized on how God rewards good intentions and the need to be obedient and chaste. According to him, King David wanted to build a house for God but God had another plan for him. It is the same as when we really want to do something for God like some people who wanted to be priests but could not make it because God had other plans for them. Nevertheless, according to him, God rewards our good intentions.
Using St. Joseph’s life as an allegory, Bishop Patrick said Joseph of the Bible chose not to shame and disgrace Mary after learning of her pregnancy, but he was rather obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. “How many of us can be like St. Joseph not to shame anyone? And how many can be like Joseph not to divulge a friends’ secret when at edge with him or her?” he asked.
Making reference to John 14:23, Most Rev. Patrick Eluke said that one needs to be obedient to those in reverential authority as being a good Christian entails that you must know how to follow. He said that these days when one asks a successor if he will be obedient, the successor would respond that it depends on how his leader behaves. In his words, the Prelate said “Do not be a Priest while you are still a Seminarian, and do not be a Bishop while you are yet a Priest.” He thanked all the priests for their efforts and formation on the seminarians.
The Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa in his address at the commencement of the convocation ceremony at the school auditorium welcomed specially the convocation Prelate, Most Rev. Patrick Eluke and all others on behalf of the Bigard family. He described the occasion as a landmark in the annals of Bigard Memorial Seminary because it was the Golden Jubilee convocation ceremony. He appreciated the smooth relation between Bigard institution and the Pontifical Urbaniana University of Rome.
Fr. Albert Ikpenwa congratulated the graduands for their bravery especially during the Covid-19 period. In his words; “We celebrate with our 2020 Philosophy and Theology graduands. This set is indeed a notable set. Having worked so hard under the scourge of the Covid-19 Pandemic and its associated tensions, fears, distractions, uncertainties and all manner of inconveniencing experiences, this set has distinguished itself in resilience, doggedness and determination. They were the first set to successfully launch our Online Distance Learning Programme. We are here to thank God with and for them, for having brought to fruition their labours and sweats. As the Psalmist put it ‘those who are sowing in tears, will sing when they reap’ .”
Delivering the convocation lecture on the topic; ‘External Good in Aristotle: The Dilemma of Nigerian Politics’, the Vice Rector of Bigard, Rev. Fr. Dr. Kelvin Udenwagu explored the teachings of Aristotle on External goods and its impact on Nigerian politics. According to him, Nigeria’s eroded value system, spurred by the ethnic sentiments, is part of the factors that impede our human flourishing- end of polis and the common good- end of politics. Thus, character formation through a culturally adapted civic education would impose the needed virtue for proper management of our external good- wealth, political power, nobleness, honour, friends and good children.
“Happiness is a matter of choice, not chance. We make choices, and the choice we make go a long way to determine our happiness”, he said.
Presenting the graduands from the Philosophy Department, Rev. Fr. Dr. Humphrey Uchenna Ani, The Head of the Department of Philosophy, Bigard Memorial Seminary, in his address thanked the good Lord for making the celebration possible and for the successful completion of studies by the 2019/2020 academic year students. He narrated how they walked through the storm brought by the Coronavirus and said that despite the global pandemic of covid-19 which, like a stormy weather have disrupted the progress of so many things in the world, the Bigard family and the philosophy department in Bigard have persisted and walked on.
In the same vein, his counterpart, the Head of the Department of Theology, Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Obasi while presenting graduands from the department thanked the welcomed the convocation Prelate, Most Rev. Patrick Eluke, to his alma mater. He thanked immensely the Rector, Rev. Fr. Kelvin Ikpenwa for his commitment and efforts in employing more lecturers to the department. He celebrated the efforts of the Formators and Lecturers.
To the seminarians, he urged them to stay committed and motivated to more academic success. “To you our cherished seminarians, may what you see today be a sign of encouragement and motivation in your struggle towards academic excellence”, he said.
The Valedictorian, Mr Ezenwa Calistus of Enugu Diocese in his speech relished his memories in Bigard. According to him, “A well informed person is one for whom good is natural. Whenever a seminarian has to choose two choices, he chooses good because his will has been identified with that of Christ.”
He expressed gratitude to God over his ability to attain such academic excellence. According to him, by God’s grace he maintained a resolute dedication to study.
He further encouraged other seminarians to put in all efforts in their academics.
Mr. Ezenwa Calistus of Enugu Diocese emerged as the best overall graduating student of the Theology Department with 98.11 Summa Cum Laude Probatus (First Class) while Ibe Izuchukwu Emmanuel emerged as the overall best graduating candidate of the Philosophy Department with 98 Summa Cum Laude Probatus (First Class).
About 90 candidates graduated from The Department of Philosophy while the Theology Department had 90 graduands as well.