On Sunday, January 20, 2019, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu celebrated what has become traditionally known as ‘Diaconate Epiphany’. It is the day that seminarians who were ordained deacons during the Christmas Break officially present themselves to the Bigard Family. The celebration usually takes place on the Sunday following the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord. It is usually a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by the Bigard Seminary Family in gratitude to God for the gift of vocations. This celebration has become memorable in Bigard as it is always an opportunity for a common family celebration as the ordinations of the candidates normally take place at their various dioceses and at different times.
The 2018/2019 Diaconate Epiphany was flagged off on the evening of Saturday, January 19, 2019 with a Novelty Football Match between the deacons and non-deacons of Bigard. The football match, which was a tough contest, ended 2-1 in favor of the deacons. The opening ceremony was concluded with a Vespers which took place later in the Bigard Main Chapel.
Given the traditional prayer routine of the seminary, there was Eucharistic Adoration and Lauds in the early hours of Sunday before the Thanksgiving Mass which started at 07:30 hours. The Eucharistic Celebration started with Solemn Procession consisting of all the new deacons, numbering 44, the College of Formators, and the Altar Servers. The Choir and the Band of Bigard in their characteristic performances added color to the beauty of the liturgy.
In his homily, the President of the Eucharistic Assembly, Fr Gabriel Chukwu, praised the deacons for their courage. It takes courage, he said, for one to renounce the worldly pleasures with the sole aim of serving Our Lord and His people. Advising the deacons, he said: “In a short while, you shall have stepped into the priesthood. Then, you shall be completely set apart for God’s work. Do not bother how you will go about this! God does His work; all you need to do is to make yourselves available for Him by cooperating with His grace. Finally, work with our Blessed Mother Mary. She is the mother of all priests. When your path darkens, implore her maternal help; she will plead with her Son to lighten your path just like she did for the bridegroom at the wedding feast as we heard from the Gospel of John 2:1-11 read to our hearing today”.
After the Prayer of the Faithful, there was a special thanksgiving by the deacon class accompanied by some Friends of Bigard who came from far and wide to grace the ceremony. And after the Post Communion prayer, Rev. Francis Ogodo, on behalf of the deacon class, expressed their unalloyed sentiments of gratitude to the Bigard Family, beginning with the Team of Formators, Seminarians, Lay Staff and all those who have played roles in making them what they have become. He prayed God to bless them abundantly.
At the end of the Mass, there was a group photograph at the front of the Bigard Main Chapel followed by the entertainment session which took place at the Students’ Refectory.