Investiture of Papal Knights and Medalists of Abuja Archdiocese: Opening Remarks by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama

Holy Mass of the Investiture of Papal Knights and Medalists of Abuja Archdiocese on 17th October, 2020, Opening Remarks by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama, at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Abuja

Before we proceed with the Holy Mass, please, permit me dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, to welcome you to this solemn gathering of the family of God in the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, on the happy occasion of the great honour done by His Holiness, Pope Francis, in granting Ecclesiastical Awards with the titles of Knight Commander of St. Gregory the Great, to Sir Peter O. Aliu, Knight and Dame of St. Gregory the Great to six persons, Knight and Dame of Saint Sylvester the Pope to 11 persons and the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice to two persons.

We welcome our friends and well wishers who have come from far away to honour those to be conferred with these Papal Honours. We appreciate the sacrifices you made to come here. To our top Government officials and other dignitaries, thank you for coming to celebrate these men and women of honour with us.

I welcome my brother Bishops, Superiors and members of Religious Congregations, Priests and Seminarians. To the Papal Knights and Dames and other awardees of Papal honours, to you, through your National President, Dame Dr. Esther Uduehi, I say, “welcome”.

I recognize the Chairman of the Archdiocesan Laity Council and representatives of the CWO, CMO, CYON, and all the heads of other Church organizations.

It was at the recommendation of His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan that these awards were made, but they were granted during my time as Archbishop of Abuja. I am happy that the Cardinal accepted to kindly lead us in this Eucharistic celebration and to confer on the candidates their respective honours. In absentia, we thank the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, for facilitating the process and for handing over to me the paraphernalia and certificates he received from the Vatican, which I passed on to His Eminence, considering that since he started this process, he should bring it to completion.

My dear Papal Knights, Dames and Medalists, this is a recognition of your meritorious service to the Church all these years. You have distinguished yourselves in voluntary service to the Church, sacramental practice, credible witness, and you have in many ways put at the disposal of the Church some of your resources and good ideas. May God bless you and grant your good intentions in a way that surpasses your expectations.

For many other beloved members of our Archdiocese who have worked very hard and are still working in visible and non-visible ways to contribute to the progress of the Church in the Archdiocese of Abuja, rejoice that these brothers and sisters of ours have been chosen to represent you today. We all look forward to our heavenly award when we all hope to see God face to face in His Kingdom.

On behalf of the Archdiocese of Abuja, I congratulate you distinguished sons and daughters of the Church. We pray that your reception of this award will mark another chapter in your spiritual journey and your selfless service in promoting renewed evangelization, especially with your celebration coming on the eve of the World Mission Sunday. I wish you and your families more joyful years of service to the Lord.

I have a message from the Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, Most Rev. Charles Hammawa. Incidentally, the Cardinal had nominated Barrister Dodo, SAN, under Abuja Archdiocese for a Papal award, but Jalingo Diocese where Barr. Dodo comes from, had earlier made a request to Rome which was granted and so the request from the Archdiocese of Abuja was a strong affirmation that Jalingo Diocese made a wise and discerning nomination, for which Barr. Dodo, SAN, was conferred with the Papal Award of St. Gregory the Great. I hereby pass on the message to you Barr. Damian David Danlami Dodo, SAN, which His Eminence will confer on you later.

On this note, may I humbly invite His Eminence, the Cardinal, to kindly lead us in the Eucharistic celebration on this feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch please.

Happy celebrations!

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