– Bishop Onaga calls for greater participation.
By Njideka Eze
The Diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality took a special turn in Enugu Diocese yesterday Saturday 26th March, 2022 at the Jubilee hall, Holy Ghost Cathedral Ogui Enugu as the Diocese convoked a diocesan synodal meeting which have in attendance, delegates from various parishes and deaneries of the diocese, delegates from CAN (Christian association of Nigeria), our separated brothers (Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals), and even the union of Traditionalists.
In his opening remark, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese Most Rev. Callistus Onaga described a Synod as an assembly that helps review and reorient the local church in its mission of evangelization to the rest of the world as well as taking important decisions that would help in the growth of the Church. “A Synod should be held when there is a need to look into the life of a particular Church. It means coming together to discuss issues affecting a particular Church because as the saying goes, an unexamined life is not worth living”. he noted.
Bishop Onaga buttressed further the peculiarity of the present Synodal meeting. “The Church has decided to bring together, Christians and non-Christians, and engage them in this discussion. In this way, the Church proves her dynamism and all-inclusive system in the process of evangelization. And so, the Church thinks it wise to listen to the heartbeat of the people they are evangelizing, as well as taking into consideration positive and negative comments which give opportunities for reforms.
“Therefore, it is believed that this Synod of journeying together would help the Church to grow.
“Of course, the present challenge is that Christianity as a whole is in crises. Therefore, the concern here is what we could do to have a truly ecumenical and inter-religious process of evangelization.” he noted.
It will be recalled that on 17th October 2021, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Diocese Most Rev. Ernest Obodo inaugurated the members of the Diocesan Synod team for the Synod on Synodality 2021- 2023. He, as well, urged the faithful to pray fervently for the success of this synod during the Eucharistic celebration at Holy Ghost Cathedral Enugu, noting that the inauguration which is happening in all the different dioceses of the world will chart a new course for the Holy Church. The names of the Diocesan Synodal process team includes: Fr. Michael Chime (Co-ordinator), Fr. Joseph Ezechi (Secretary/Notary), Fr. Paul Uche (Asst. Secretary/Notary), Fr. Justin Eke (member), Sr. Benedicta Odo (member), Prof. Francis Ozoemena (member), and Mrs. Ijeoma Amu (member).
Last year 2021, the Enugu diocesan Synodal Process Team spearheaded by the Judicial Vicar Rev. Fr. Dr. Michael Chime has rolled out guidelines and programmes for the preparatory phase of this Synod in Enugu diocese. In their preparatory text, the Diocesan Synodal team identifies that down here in our local system, the Church is faced with religious apathy/sycophancy, neo-paganism and syncretism, tribal and political hares, religious war and economic degeneration. All these and more are the greater challenge the Church contend with in this era.
Speaking at this Synodal meeting, the Co-ordinator of the Diocesan Phase of the Synodal process, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Chime, reported that Diocesan Synodal Team has been meeting weekly on zoom where deliberations and strategies are rolled out. Fr. Chime said that a Questionnaire has been provided earlier to make individual participation in the synodal process easy and faster. The questions are answered and submitted to the diocesan synodal team. He also pointed out that the questionnaire was also prepared in Google form which can be filled online.
Fr. Chime also said that a total of 577 (five hundred and seventy-seven forms) have been submitted from the Diocese so far, which according to him is a poor participation.
Running an analysis, he gave a breakdown of submissions so far in the diocese:
CWO – 23% (133person)
CMO – 20.8% (120persons)
CYMO – 8.5% (49persons )
CYWO – 12.5% (72persons)
Seminarians – 11.4 % (66persons )
Clergy – 4.2 % (24persons )
Religious women 12.7% (73persons)
Religious Men – 6.6% (38persons)
Further breaking the submissions according to the deaneries in diocese so far:
Agbani deanery – 10.7%,
Nkwo Nike deanery – 23.7%,
Aguobuowa and Emene deaneries – 3.6 % and 3.3% respectively
while Udi and Enugu deaneries have 2.1% and 56.5% total submissions respectively .
Fr. Michael Chime further urged and encouraged more people to fill and submit.
The following issues were deliberated upon:
1. How can we promote inter-denominational/inter-religious collaborations in order to journey together as a people of God irrespective of our differences?
2. How could traditional marriage rites and church weddings be unified to reduce costs and encourage youths to marry?
3. How possible is it to modify traditional /cultural practices so as to eliminate rancour and other factors that separate Christians and people of God that profess God in different ways (Enculturation ) without compromising Christian principles?
4. What traditional cultural practices do you think can be incorporated into the church?
5. With the challenges in present day marriages, how can the church prepare intending couples (Youths) better for the realities of the challenges, difficulties and joys of marital state so as to reduce cases of divorce that are now common in the church and society?
At the closing remark, Bishop Onaga thanked the diocesan synodal team for their commitment to their assignment. He further thanked all present for their participation and contributions. His Lordship also encouraged people to put down in writing some other issues that were not discussed extensively so that the Diocese would have a robust document to present.
In her vote of thanks, Sr. Benedicta Odo, a member of the diocesan synodal team thanked Bishop Onaga and the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo for their support and encouragement to the team since the synodal process began. She further thanked all delegates from various parishes and deaneries of the diocese, delegates from CAN (Christian association of Nigeria), our separated brothers (Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals), and the union of Traditionalists who were graciously present at the synodal meeting.
The meeting was anchored by Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, the Director of Communications.