Keynote Address by Most Rev. I A. Kaigama at the Maiden General Assembly of the Catholic Archdiocese

Keynote Address by Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja at the Maiden General Assembly of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, 4th to 5th September, 2020.

Today marks our maiden General Assembly of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja. To God we give honour, glory and adoration and we trust that He will continue to inspire us to be one family on mission. I welcome all the priests and representatives of religious communities, parishes and Church societies/associations. We thank all the men and women living or gone before us who have been very strong pillars in building of the Archdiocese of Abuja. I welcome the representative of the Holy Father in Nigeria, His Excellency, Most Rev. Antonio Guido Fillipazzi, and other distinguished guests to this opening ceremony.

Our Assembly will help us to take a look at the humble beginnings of what has metamorphosed into an outstanding Archdiocese, and hopefully, we can explore during the assembly proceedings how to continue to contribute to the overall development, welfare and progress of our Church, the FCT and the nation.

The main speaker, Msgr. Kenneth Enang, who was part of the initial pastoral personnel, will share with us on a rather experiential theme: “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization”.

We appreciate all those who through the years have carried out Archdiocesan assignments with great passion and diligence using their professional skills. Today, more than before, we need many more of such services from our doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, teachers, electricians, mechanics, traders, security experts etc. The volunteer culture must continue to grow.

With the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and our experience of its devastating socio-economic implications especially across third world countries, together with other peculiar burning national issues such as insecurity, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping etc there is need for a renewed missionary impulse and sensitivity. In our present age that manifests situations more difficult than the past, we are called to be salt and light of a new world (cf. Mt 5:13-16).

We must shun the mentality where everyone is for himself or herself and cares only for those who are friends, family or from the same tribe, region, religion or political party, to the extent that we subordinate the common good to selfish interests, and even consider others as “outsiders”, thus triggering the feelings in certain quarters of being neglected, abandoned or marginalized. With the current economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a huge increase in poverty levels. We call on the government to give priority to alleviating poverty and improving life situations among Nigerians.

In our evangelization effort, we continue to encourage families and parishes to take care of the young ones. The Holy Childhood Association should be formed in schools and parishes and children taught early how to share with others and to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Annual children’s day should be celebrated in parishes and schools. Likewise, the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) activities have to be taken more seriously. In our Archdiocese, we have the Catholic Television and Good Shepherd newspaper which are essential to supporting and sustaining our faith and spirituality. We need to use these more effectively at these challenging times.

You are aware that we have created thirty new pastoral areas and also created or expanded eleven Archdiocesan commissions. We hope that the pastoral areas with the cooperation of all will grow to quasi parishes and then to full parishes. As Colossians 3:23-24 urges, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord, and not for men. You well know that the Lord will reward you; you will receive what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve.”

We thank the Chancellor and the Vicar for Pastoral Affairs and many others who helped to prepare this first Assembly. I pray that we shall return to our parishes and respective apostolates strengthened by this fraternal gathering and determined to serve our people with all our hearts, minds and strength. Please, replicate your experience of this Assembly by stepping it down in an abbreviated form for your parishes or institutions.

We entrust our Archdiocese to the watchful care of our Blessed Mother, Mary, the “Star of Evangelization” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 82), asking her maternal intercession that our Archdiocese will continue to be a home to all, with all of us working happily, harmoniously and peacefully.

With renewed faith in the Blessed Trinity, I now formally declare our Maiden Annual General Assembly open.

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