By Chineneye Dike
On the 17th of September 2022, the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON), Enugu Diocese had its first Diocesan Youth Day celebration at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Parish Agbani.
The event had in attendance Catholic youths from different deaneries of the Diocese.
The youth day celebration which was themed “Mary arose and went in haste” started with a holy mass officiated by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese Most. Rev. Callistus Onaga.
His Lordship in his inspiring homily to the youths which he described as a message of hope, assured the young lads that amidst the challenging times, there is light at the end of the tunnel, therefore, all will be well at the end.
His Lordship reminded them on the basic tenets of Christianity that they should always imbibe in their daily life, noting that the gathering is not just for fun but to pray and hear the word of God.
He emphasized on the need for them to understand that as Christians they should always follow the teachings of Christ which is love.
Love is Sacrifice
According to His Lordship, love involves sacrifice and at such, should be expressed in all we do.
Expanding the teaching on sacrifice, His Lordship cautioned young people on the growing vested selfish interest many go into relationships with. On this note, he urged young ladies to see the need for sacrifice in keeping a healthy, genuine and godly relationship with a potential spouse who perhaps is not yet financially stable. His Lordship further advised against laziness amongst boys, especially with the hope of living at the expense of the lady’s finances in the name of relationship. Urging greater sacrifice and coordinated life built on contentment, hard work, patience and sacrifice, His Lordship encouraged the youths to eschew greed and mindless sense of entitlement in all forms.
“If you can’t be patient and suffer with whom you love, it is no longer love but exploitation”, he added.
He condemned indolent nature of some youths who instead of working hard to secure a comfortable future, waste their time and advised them to be hardworking and focused on setting up a comfortable future.
Guarding the future
His Lordship further commended the new youth executives for their effort in organizing the first Diocesan youth rally.
He also advised them not to allow themselves to be used as instrument of destruction by politicians.
He spoke on the failure of the government to settle the on-going ASUU strike that have lingered for months, keeping the youths out of school and also the debilitating negligence on developing infrastructures in schools.
His Lordship pleaded with the government to look into the issues in Universities and grant them their requests. He advised the youths not to allow themselves to be used as agents of destruction, especially as the campaign season is about to begin for upcoming general election, sounding a note of warning on a judgement day no one will escape, a day everyone will give account on how they led their life here on earth.
Need for high productivity
He made them understand the opportunity they have in their generation and urged them to use it positively. He emphasized on the need to acquire a skill, no matter how little it is and added that each of them should make sure they have a source of income.
His Lordship bemoaned the growing level of idleness and penchant for reaping where they did not sow amongst today’s youth which he identified as a problem and a source of concern., saying, “If you must be somebody, you have to work hard for it”.
As young ones who are still on a journey, he advised them to use every gift God has given them positively. “As the world is set up for you to be in oblivious of what the future holds, it is necessary to be hardworking and ready for whatever the future brings”, His Lordship advised.
He however urged them further on the need for constant creativity and ideas development.
Technology for Positivity
As it has become obvious that our life is being shaped by the information age with the advent of social media and its attendant features, His Lordship urged the youths not to shy away from its opportunities but to be on alert never to be swayed by the negative influence and effects it has on people.
His Lordship condemned the unbridled usage of social media and the technology that promulgates it. Siting the terrible case of people more concerned in capturing with their phone victims in an accident scene instead of offering a helping hand, His Lordship called for a more responsible and cautionary approach with our tech devices at all time.
He condemned the growing scourge of fake news and called on the youths to always verify news before posting on social media.
He strongly condemned the get rich quick syndrome pervading among young people and urged them to avoid doing evil and fraudulent activities for money. “Always do the right jobs, love one another, believe in God and do good and things will be alright for you” he advised.
Finally, his Lordship announced to them the scholarship scheme organized by the Diocese. According to him, each Deanery is to provide two candidates for the scholarship.
He further urged them to get their voters card ready to be able to participate fully in the 2023 general election.
His Lordship further reminded them of the ultra-modern Diocesan farm, the Mary Agro Farms, Udi and urged Deaneries to also get a farm where youths can work.
While praying that next year turns out better than this year, he also reminded the youths that the future of the Church and the nation lies on them.
In an address presented The Diocesan President of Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria, Enugu Diocese, Engr. Maxwell Chidiebere Ogwudile, said the Youth Day celebration is a day the Catholic Youth of Enugu join other youths in the world and Diocese to celebrate and remind themselves of their status and importance as youths to the continuity of creation.
He elaborated further that this year’s gathering is to pray and ponder on the theme: “Mary arose and went in haste” which is a reminder of the need to be obedient and also a reminder of the importance of being disposed to the will and instructions of God through Jesus.
Engr. Maxwell, mentioned that the slogan of the new executive members of CYWO and CYMO is to Change the impression. He acknowledge that the Youth of Enugu Diocese has made the work easier for them and also he thanked the bishop for being present at the ceremony despite his busy schedule. His Lordship in return offered them the sum of N100, 000.
After the Holy mass, there was Cultural presentation from different groups, the youths entertained their guests with Cultural parade, drama, cultural dance and presentation of diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria.
In a brief interview with Vicar for Youths, Very Rev. Fr Benjamin Chinedu Ochiagha, expressed his happiness for the level of encouragement given to the young ones to be productive, up and doing and creative at all time.
According to him, if the Youths are being talked to in respect to morality and not given chance to act on their own, then we will be able to adequately harness their potentials.
He expressed his delight on the level of talent the youths are displaying and advised the youths generally to always be creative and realize that they are the next in line for the mantle of leadership. He noted that if they are not well prepared at this moment it will be difficult to take over when the time comes.
The youth day celebration had in attendance the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, the Diocesan Chancellor Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Wilfred Agubuchie, the Vicar for Youth Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin Ọchịagha, the Host Dean Very Rev. Fr. Chinedu Zeowa and many other Priests.
Others in attendance were the CMO president Prof. Adonai O Okonkwo, CWO president, Mrs. Ifesinachi Ani, the Former president of the CWO Prof. Mrs. Bene Okolie, the State Coordinator Mrs. Ifeoma Ezepue, all the Diocesan and Deanery executive members, young men and women of the Nigerian police force, as well as the youths who came in their thousands.