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6th February marked the end of the year of Consecrated Life in Onitsha Archdiocese at the Basilica of Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha.

The Year of Consecrated Life was the year the Church mapped out to particularly appreciate and pray for her Consecrated members.  Different activities by different Local Churches were used to mark the year.

 Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese articulated the uniqueness of the occasion  and the blessings attached to it in these words, “Today is a great day and we are beneficiaries of this great day.  It pleased the Lord that it is happening in our time for no Pope has ever declared a Year of Consecrated Life.” 

The celebration was quite unique with First Religious Profession of 13 candidates of two Religious Congregations.  Brothers of St Stephen had 3 Brothers and the Sisters of the Needy had 10 Novices that made their First Profession.   Sr. Mary Michael Okafor, the Superior General of the Sisters of the Needy received the Sisters’ vows while Bro. Pantheleon Okafor, the Superior General of Brothers of St Stephen received those of the Brothers. 

The Archbishop remarked at the introduction of the feast that “We are gathered as the people of God – the family of the Church in Nigeria.”  That is what it really was! The Church in Nigeria was handsomely represented.  The Candidates for Religious Profession came from different Dioceses of the Country: Orlu,  Nsukka, Otukpo, Awka, Ogoja, Makurdi, Nnewi dioceses and Onitsha Archdiocese.  

Reflecting on the reading of the day, the Archbishop termed his homily – “Living in the distant country”. The Prodigal son left his father to live in a distant country seeking happiness his own way.  So doing, he lost his dignity, identity, mansion and so on.  Likewise Religious may decide to live in a distant country when they drop their vows of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty and do things their own way. 

“Go back home to the Father” - as the Prodigal Son did - was the Prelate’s advise to the Religious.   “Go back to the Spirit of your Foundation, to the dignity of sonship.  In the Father’s house there is everything.  You’ll make a total victory in life when you embrace your life and live it out”, the Archbishop continued.

He said that the Church calling us Brothers, Sisters and Fathers wants to show the greater obligation on our part to show others understanding, kindness, love, forgiveness and be inspiring.  “Don’t live in a distant land”, he concluded.

At the end of the Mass, Very Rev. Fr. Jude Mgbeobukwa, the Episcopal Vicar of Onitsha Region and the Director of Religious Programmes for the Year of Consecrated Life appreciated the Archbishop and all who participated in the celebration.

The celebration continued at the Basilica field for the Newly Professed and their families and in the Shanahan Hall for the rest of the Religious.  It was a special day indeed!


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