It was an atmosphere of joy for Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, as the seminary community, today, Monday, March 4, 2019 began the celebration of the Solemnity of the Rededication of the Bigard Seminary Main Chapel. The celebration, which started with Evening Prayer I of the Solemnity, was brought to its climax the following day, Tuesday, March 5, 2019 with a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration.
The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by the Rector of the Seminary, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert O. Ikpenwa. In attendance was a host of other concelebrating Priests, including the Team of Formators. In his homily, the Rector referred to Bigard Chapel as both a ‘House of God’ and a ‘Gate of Heaven’; a house of God because God inhabits the Chapel by the virtue of its dedication to Him. It is also a Gate of Heaven, on the other hand, because it is a place of encounter through which God continually draws us to Himself. The implication, he further explains, is that our activities in the Chapel, given the above realization, must be marked by silence, attentiveness and utmost reference to God. He disclosed that from the Bigard Chapel many great sons of the Church have been given birth to, known and unknown, all to the glory of God. He, therefore, enjoined the students to take advantage of the numerous graces that God continually makes available to us through the prayers that are daily offered to Him in the Chapel.
Coming at the end of the Post-communion prayers was a Vote of Thanks by the Vice Rector II, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Igbonaugo. In his remarks, he thanked the Rector for the scholarship with which he broke the Word of God. He thanked equally the students and all who worked behind the scene to ensure that the celebration was a success. His remarks which generated spontaneous applause from the students suddenly gave way for the Bigard Anthem which was beautifully rendered. The Rector, afterward, declared the rest of the day, an Ordinary Free Day (OFD). The Free Day would begin after the day’s lectures.
It is to be recalled that the Bigard Chapel was first dedicated on October 7, 1955 and rededicated on March 5, 2005. By the year 1951, the seminary made use of the Chapel in St. Paul’s Block as it was able to contain the population of seminarians as they were just 25 in number. However, with the increase in vocations, it was a matter of time before the population of seminarians grew too large for the Chapel. Then, a lasting solution came when, in 1954, a befitting Chapel was built and completed by the then Rector of the seminary, Rev. Fr. O’ Neill.
Following its completion in 1954, the Chapel was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and SS Peter and Paul on October 7, 1955. This scared edifice has since then remained an outstanding accomplishment in architectural design, with a capacity of over 600 persons. In 2003, the Seminary Chapel was renovated and rehabilitated and the surroundings given a face-lift by the then Rector, Very Rev Fr. Dr. John Okoye, now the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awgu. After this renovation, the Chapel was rededicated on March 5, 2005.