Bigard Family jubilates as Fr. Albert Ikpenwa is Officially declared Substantive Rector

Saturday, 6th January 2018 has been recorded in the annals of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, following a surprised visit of the Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Onitsha. His visit, which assembled the Bigard College of Formators and all Seminarians in the Bigard Main Chapel at 3:30pm, incited some mixed feelings as all wondered what the purpose of the visit could be, considering that the Seminary only resumed from the Christmas break the previous day.

With all seated in expectation, the Archbishop who came with his secretary, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Okaa Onwuogu, started with an opening prayer, after which he delivered his message to the assembly. In his words, he declared thus “I bring you good news. You will recall that since June 2015, when the out gone Rector of this Seminary, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Theophilus Igwe completed his tenure, Bigard Memorial Seminary has remained without a Shepherd. And this is because the Church has her procedure of doing things, as a result of which Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa was appointed the acting Rector of Bigard. To the glory of God, having waited in prayer for the decision of the Church, the Church has finally decided. After due evaluations by the Supreme Pontiff through the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, and in collaboration with the Bishops of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, it has pleased the Church to officially declare Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Okechukwu Ikpenwa (Acting Rector of Bigard) as the Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu.” At the reception of this message, the entire Bigard family expressed great joy amidst cheerfulness, joyous melodies and thunderous applauds.

After his brief address, the Archbishop read out to the hearing of all, the letter from the Apostolic Nunciature of Nigeria, confirming the Appointment Letter from the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, headed by Fernando Cardinal Filoni. To the hearing of the entire College of Formators and Seminarians of Bigard, one of Bigard’s Spiritual Directors, Very Rev. Msgr. Anthony Eze read out the Appointment Letter in the language of the Church (Latin), after which the newly confirmed Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, was invited to the Sanctuary of the Bigard Main Chapel by the Archbishop, for the Profession of Faith, and Signing of the Appointment Decree.

Accompanied by the Vice Rector I, Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igbanugo and Vice Rector II, Rev. Fr. Dr. Miletus Ossai, the Rector made his way to the Sanctuary through the central aisle of the Bigard Main Chapel, as the atmosphere was intensely stirred with melodies and songs of joy by the overjoyed Bigard family. In a solemn manner and in the presence of the Archbishop and the entire Bigard family, the new Rector professed his faith as he carefully proclaimed the contents of the Catholic Nicene Creed. He further pledged allegiance to the teachings of the Supreme Pontiff and the Magisterium of the Church, and also pledged total obedience to the directives of the College of Bishops; after which he consented to his appointment by signing some documents presented to him.

The Vice Rector I, Fr. Igbanugo, in a vote of thanks, expressed the joy of the entire Bigard family as he thanked the Pope and the Bishops of Onitsha Ecclesiastical province, through whom God has blessed the seminary with an admirable Pater Familias.

Finally, the Archbishop bestowed his blessings on the new Rector and prayed God to make his administration a fruitful one, and also to make him a good father both to the Bigard seminarians and his co-formators. With a closing prayer and Episcopal blessings, the Archbishop dismissed the assembly.

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