In the spirit of an age-long tradition of this hallowed seminary we commenced this new academic and formation year with the inauguration of the academic year, which officially begins the year. It was a momentous occasion as the seminary was graced by the presence of the esteemed Apostolic Nuncio to Czech Republic, His Grace Most Rev. Jude Thaddeus Okolo, who inaugurated the academic and formation year. It is also noteworthy that this is the first time in the almost 100 year history of Bigard that a Nuncio is inaugurating the academic year. He is also an Alumnus of the seminary.
The inauguration program commenced on the afternoon of Sunday 22 October, 2023, marked by a colorful paramilitary welcome at the seminary gate, orchestrated by our elite MOD security team. This marked the beginning of a three-day event filled inauguration ceremony.
There was a parade that led Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo to the Bigard FIFA football Field. Here, the Nuncio was received with open arms by the Rector and our esteemed team of Formators. In a fitting tribute to the occasion, Archbishop Okolo took center stage and, with a sense of graciousness, performed the official kickoff for the novelty match held in his honor. It was between the old Bigard school team and the new Bigard school team. The match, played with zeal and sportsmanship, was a thrilling spectacle that captivated all in attendance. As the sun began to set and the cheers of the spectators filled the air, the final score bore witness to the competitive spirit of the day, with the old Bigard school team emerging victorious with a score line of four goals to nil.
At night, the Nuncio was given a grand and warm welcome party in the beautifully adorned seminary auditorium, where a warm reception awaited him. The Rector, in his welcoming address, conveyed the heartfelt gratitude of the seminary community to the Apostolic Nuncio for his esteemed presence. The cultural richness of the seminary was celebrated through captivating performances by various talented music groups, including the melodious sounds of Egwu Ekpili, which resonated through the auditorium, filling the hearts of all in attendance with joy.
In the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, Fr. Dr. Kelvin Udenwagu delivered a heartfelt vote of thanks to all those who had contributed to the success of the event. With the blessings by the Nuncio, the first day’s festivities came to a close.
The second day of this momentous event commenced on Monday, October 23, and was marked by a series of private and insightful interactions with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo. At 11 am, the Nuncio engaged in a private session with the dedicated formators, the priests who play an integral role in the formation of seminarians.
Later in the evening, at 8:30 pm, the Nuncio had another private session, this time with the seminarians themselves. In this setting, a crucial and candid discussion unfolded, delving into ecclesiastical matters, the Nuncio’s experiences in his role, and the journey of faith and service that has brought him to where he is today. The seminarians had the opportunity to ask engage in a thoughtful question-and-answer session. After hours of fruitful deliberation and the Nuncio’s encouraging words, the day concluded with the final Episcopal blessings from the esteemed Prelate. It was a day filled with deep introspection, learning, and inspiration, further enriching the spiritual and intellectual lives of both the formators and seminarians at Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu.
The dawn of the third day was marked by a profoundly liturgical and spiritually enriching votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. This sacred occasion served as a solemn dedication, entrusting the academic and formation year into the loving hands of God. During the Mass, the Nuncio delivered a homily that resonated deeply with all in attendance. He urged the seminarians to be receptive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, emphasizing the importance of openness and cooperation with the divine guidance that flows through their seminary formation. The Nuncio’s words served as a powerful reminder of the spiritual purpose that underlies our educational and formative journey. The Nuncio called on the seminarians to emulate great people like Msgr. Obiora Ike whom he cited as a shining example of excellence. Through this heartfelt tribute, he conveyed the message that dedication, commitment, and a strong foundation in faith can lead to a life of profound impact and service to the Church.
After the Mass, the official program of the day unfolded at the seminary auditorium. The grand entrance of the inauguration prelate, His Grace, Most Rev. Jude Thaddeus Okolo, was met with resounding applause and admiration. The atmosphere was charged with excitement and reverence as the seminary and papal anthems were beautifully rendered by the Seminary fan club, setting the stage for the proceedings.
The opening remarks and keynote address were delivered by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Albert Ikpenwa. In his speech, the Rector extended a warm welcome to the Nuncio, highlighting the special connection the Nuncio holds with the seminary as an alumnus. He expressed gratitude for the knowledge and guidance the Nuncio had imparted since his arrival.
The Rector also took the opportunity to announce the customary awards to be given to students who had excelled in both academics and character. He said two new awards, the Tonja Cater award for best student in Moral Theology, Prince Ikedi Literature Award for Prose and Poetry, had been added this year, further encouraging the tradition of academic excellence at Bigard. He mentioned that the “Best Behaved” award, which had been renamed the Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo Award in 2021, was a tribute to the prelate who had been the first recipient of the award many years ago when he was a seminarian. In conclusion, the Rector expressed heartfelt appreciation to the Nuncio for his gracious presence and support.
As the program continued, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, further enriched the intellectual discourse by delivering an inauguration lecture on the theme of “Synod on Synodality.” Drawing inspiration from the ongoing synod in Rome, he explored the multifaceted dimensions of this synodal process and its implications for the wider Church. With thought-provoking insights, he raised pivotal questions about the lessons that could be garnered from the Roman synod and how these lessons could be thoughtfully applied in the context of seminary formation. His lecture stimulated a spirited exchange of ideas and opened the door to a deeper understanding of the evolving Church’s mission and the role of seminarians within it.
After Archbishop Okolo’s paper, Rev. Fr. Dr. Godwin Orji took the stage to deliver an inaugural lecture on a topic of contemporary significance: “Effects of Social Media in the Light of Christian living.” With meticulous analysis, he shed light on the potential negative impacts of technology and social media on the spiritual formation of seminarians. The lecture explored the challenges posed by the digital age and provided valuable insights into how seminarians and those within the Church could navigate these challenges while upholding the tenets of Christian living. Fr. Dr. Orji’s lecture initiated a vital conversation about the integration of modern technology into a faith-centered life, and it served as a reminder of the ongoing need for reflection and adaptation in the face of changing times.
As soon as the enlightening inaugural lecture and the engaging discussions on various subjects were over, the moment came to acknowledge and give prizes to the students who had distinguished themselves in their respective fields. The Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace, Most Rev. Jude Thaddeus Okolo, presided over this award/prize giving ceremony, and presented the awards to deserving recipients.
The following got prizes/awards according to departments:
- Ezeani Emmanuel Ifechukwu———-1st position
- Aneke Emmanuel Ifeanyi —————2nd position
- Onwuegbunam Jude Ifeanyichukwu —3rd position
1. Ozioko Martin Chukwuka———- 1st Position
2. Okoye Celestine Chiemelie——— 2nd Position
3. Chinwuba Jerome Chidiebube——- 3rd Position
- Ejem Paul Ifechukwu———– 1st Position
- Dunu Chidobelu Louis-Mary—- 1st Position
- Ugwu Francis Oluebube———– 3rd Position
Barr. Anyaegbunam Award (Best in Symbolic Logic)
- Ugwu Francis Oluebube
Bishop Eneja Award (Best Overall Philosophy Student 2023)
- Aso Kingsley
Giant Leap award
- Okafor Kingsley Nnamdi
- Obi Emmanuel——– 1st Position
- Chukwu Christian—-2nd Position
- Eze Kingsley Njoku—-3rd Position
- Agbo Basil—————-3rd position
- Nwabueze Cyprian ——- 1st Position
- Eze Joseph—————— 2nd Position
- Ezugwu Paschal————3rd Position
- Omaga Paschal——1st Position
- Chigozie Paschal—– 1st Position
- Ochiagha Henry—–2nd Position
- Nnebedum Emmanuel—3rd Position
Overall Best Student (2023) —- Omaga Paschal
PRINCE IKEDI LITERATURE AWARD 1 (PROSE)
- Donatus Ikedinachi Akani-Egwu
PRINCE IKEDI LITERATURE AWARD 2 (PROSE)
- Okafor Martin
BEST BEHAVED STUDENT AWARDS
- Philosophy 1—– Emmanuel
- Philosophy 2—– Okonkwo John
- Philosophy 3—– Chukwu Samuel
- Theology 1—– Okanya Emmanuel
- Theology 2—– Ndukwe Michael
- Theology 3—– Felix Solomon
Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo Award (Overall Best Behaved Seminarian) — Felix Solomon
The awards served as a testament to the students’ unwavering commitment to their academic pursuits, as well as their remarkable contributions to the intellectual and moral life of the seminary.
The Vice Rector I, Rev. Fr. Dr. Kelvin Udenwagu in his vote of thanks extended gratitude to all those who had made the event a resounding success. Fr. Dr. Udenwagu expressed profound gratitude to the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Most Rev. Jude Thaddeus Okolo, for gracing the event with his gracious presence and for contributing to the intellectual and spiritual discourse. He acknowledged the tireless efforts of the Rector in ensuring the seamless execution of the program. The formators, the priests working in the seminary, were appreciated for their dedication and invaluable guidance in the formation of the seminarians. Special gratitude was extended to the seminarians themselves, especially those who had worked diligently to ensure the success of the inauguration ceremony.
The Rector extended his heartfelt gratitude to all once more, and acknowledged their valuable contributions to the success of the inauguration ceremony. The collective effort and support that had made the event memorable and meaningful were truly appreciated. The ceremony was brought to an end with a closing prayer. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, bestowed his final episcopal blessing upon the assembly. With this blessing, the inauguration ceremony was concluded.