Saints Peter & Paul Major Seminary
Bodija, Ibadan, Nigeria
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

So as for the Sheep not to be without a shepherd, God has given to the elders of His church the responsibility to shepherd His flock; it is in this light we see the pastoral and official visit of the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev Dr. Augustine Akubeze of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin who was hosted by the Rector, formation team, staff and seminarians of the Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul, Bodija Ibadan, on the 20th - 21st November, 2018 as very pertinent and valuable to the cause of formation.

The Archbishop was warmly welcomed by formators and seminarians with the various activities organized in his honour to mark the august and historic visit. Among the activities were a football match between the Ibadan/Lagos provinces and Benin province; the match which ended one nil in favour of Ibadan/Lagos provinces; sung vespers, presided over by Rev. Fr. Joseph young Aniaga (Associate Spiritual Director) in the Seminary Chapel and a social gathering at the Seminary Auditorium at about 8:30pm. The Archbishop was welcomed in different languages: Yoruba, Edo, Igala, Igbo, Hausa, Afemai, Izon, and Esan, followed by different cultural displays and a drama presentation on the need for priests to collaborate with their bishops by the spring theatre troupe, songs from Star Light musical band and beautiful renditions from seminarians.

In his closing remarks, The Archbishop appreciated the effort of the rector and the entire seminary community for the warm reception, he expressed a deep sentiment of gratitude in this words “As I look at the number of seminarians before me, I give thanks to God for sending more laborers into his vineyard. The vineyard belongs to Christ. The workers are his. He determines the nature of the work. The nature of the work informs the training of the workers. As the time changes so also is the imperative to rework the ration fundamentals. The content of the deposit of the faith remains unchanged but we are confronted with new challenges in the proclamation of the message of Christ. I am here to listen to your questions and observations. Be free to express yourself with civility and clarity. He further expressed that, the church in Nigeria needs more vocations. Never feel that you are a surplus. No, you are special. You must take your formation seriously. A good human formation is the basis to build intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation. The human formation requires you to be honest, and not a pretender: it requires you to be obedient and respectful and not a sycophant. The church needs priests who want to serve wherever they are sent to work: The Church in Nigeria is in need of priests who are committed to a life of simplicity and poverty, and not those who want to live flamboyant life styles. The Church in Nigeria needs priests who truly renounce the use of their sexual faculty for the sake of the Kingdom of God. The Church needs priests who will teach what the Church wants them to teach. Seminary is a formation ground for priests who will lead the people in the liturgy”. The Archbishop finally emphasized that the seminary is not a place for training liturgical dancers wearing chasubles.

The next day Wednesday 21st November, (the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary) there was the celebration of the Holy Mass, presided over by the Archbishop. In his homily, he said that at our baptism we were all consecrated to God, a consecration that marked us forever as children of God and citizens of heaven. To be consecrated to a person or something means to be inseparably connected to that thing or person. It is the same language that is used to refer to the coming together of a man and woman in marriage. They are joined (consecrated) to each other and hence cannot be separated. He further stated that the feast of the day recalls our first consecration to God at our baptism and a call to re-consecrate ourselves to him. We must learn from Mary who always renewed her consecration to God all through her life by her total submission to the will of God. Mary was called to continually give her “Yes” to God’s invitations of love. For in her “fiat” she shows us the way we are all called to respond to the invitations of grace in our own lives as we grow in holiness. If we learn to live our entire life as an invitation to love, an encounter with the God of love, as Mary did, we will find our lives transformed by the Son whom she bore for the whole world.

The Archbishop also at the conclusion of his homily acknowledged the efforts of the formators who ensure the proper formation process of candidates to the priesthood. And he assured them that they are sent as formators because they are among the best priests in their various dioceses as rightly enumerated in the second Vatican council optatam Totius no.5 as part of the condition to be sent as formators to the seminary. He also appreciated the students for putting in all their best and ability to apply themselves to their training, he concluded by saying “let us always remember to pray for the church in Nigeria; for all Bishops, Priests and Religious and for our leaders, not forgetting to pray for yourselves too”. May our Lady, Queen of the Clergy intercede for us always. Amen.

The concluding activity was the memorial tree planting symbolizing life, growth, beauty and as a response and reminder for us to be faithful stewards of creation that God has committed to our care because of the indispensable interconnectedness that exists between man and his environment


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