THEME: SEMINARY FORMATION UNDER COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
- Preliminary remarks
Pope Francis in his address delivered during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing on 27th March 2020 compared the turbulent period the world faces in the wake of COVID-19, to the turbulent storm the disciples faced in Mk 4:35-41, while crossing over to the other side of the lake. According to him,
The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.
This powerful statement by the Pope summarizes the state of desperation felt all over the world as the ravages of COVI-19 held sway. In the midst of the above challenges, the temptation to be swallowed in pessimism fueled by the agents of perdition or be reduced to our animalistic instinct with the principle of survival of the fittest or everybody for himself may become the order of the day.
It is against this backdrop that the Pope went ahead to state,
In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.
Thus, despite the ravages of COVID-19, we still have what “we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.”
Just like the rest of the world, the Bigard Family was and continues to be inundated with the ravages of COVID-19 and the attendant temptation to be swallowed in pessimism or experience the triumph of the animalistic instinct in man. However, for a house of formation for the training of candidates for the priesthood like Bigard, giving in to such temptations is not and cannot be an option.
This is why our colloquium paper this year is tailored to evaluate our formation programme from the onset of the corona virus outbreak in Nigeria till date, in order to chart a course not only for the new academic year but also for continuous response to the changing nature of the world we live in.
In charting this course, all of us (priests and seminarians) as agents of formation must be involved. Thus, with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we all affirm that “we were in the same boat, all fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and necessary, all called to row together, all in need of comforting each other;” and even against our individualistic tendencies, “we can only be saved together” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 32).
It involves making use of the experiences we have gathered so far. It is undoubtable that it takes a special kind of courage, hope and faith to consciously visit the past. With this in mind, it is pertinent to begin with an overview of the genesis of the pandemic in Nigeria.
- A SKETCH OF THE ADVENT OFCOVID -19 PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA
The period of the discovery of and the attempt to contain Covid-19 can be seen as a time in which activities of different institutions defied the law of logic, because nothing went as planned. Politics, economy, religion, health and other sectors were thrown into disarray. Nigeria as a part of the global village was not left out, as the attendant disruption of activities exposed the state of our unpreparedness as a nation, to grapple with a phenomenon of such magnitude.
The Covid-19 Virus is linked to the same family of viruses as acute as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The Virus began in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 but the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International concern (PHEIC) on 30th January, 2020. Then on 11th Februarys, 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) announced a name for the new corona virus disease: COVID-19 (For more, see: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41579-020-00459-7, accessed 30th September, 2021).
The first case of COVID-19 in Africa was confirmed on 14th February, 2020, precisely in Egypt. Within three months, the virus had spread throughout the continent. The first confirmed case in Nigeria was announced on 27th February 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus. It took another 11 days for the second case to be confirmed in the country, a contact of the Italian national, on 9th March 2020. Since then, the number of cases in Nigeria has grown, initially with Lagos being the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria. Also, the rising rates of infections in a number of European countries, the high number of COVID-19 cases in China, the epicentre of the virus at the time, and international flights still operating, made Nigeria particularly vulnerable. As it were, Nigeria’s index case was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, one of the two laboratories with the capacity to diagnose COVID-19 in Nigeria at the time. As the number of cases kept rising, the Nigerian government had to change its approach. A Presidential Task Force was also constituted to direct the government’s fight against the virus in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). This was constituted on March 9, 2020, and is chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, with membership from various ministries. The PTF also serves as an advisory body to the president on specific decisions such as imposing and lifting lockdowns and provides daily feedback to Nigerians on the work being done to contain the pandemic through daily media briefings with journalists.
In their article, “The first 90 days: How has Nigeria responded to the COVID-19 outbreak? COVID19 Naija Response,” Chibuike Alagboso and Bashar Abubakar observed the following:
- The guideline developed by the NCDC which involves definition of probable, suspected and confirmed cases as well as symptomatic treatment and managing underlying illnesses has guided patient management at hospitals and isolation facilities in the country.
- Before being certified COVID-19 free and being discharged, patients on treatment must have two tests within 24 hours that return a negative result for them to be considered COVID-19 negative.
Simply, it is on record that, in order to limit the spread of the disease, the NCDC produced guidelines on public gatherings, management of pregnant women, the use of public transport, social distancing and wearing of non-medical face coverings, as well as guidelines for the safe burial of individuals who die from COVID-19. Thus, borders were closed, lockdowns imposed, interstate travels banned, offices, clubs, and services considered to be non-essential closed. Public religious activities as well as academic activities had to stop in a bid to contain the virus. Interestingly, coming to the rescue of the nation in its inadequate or non-existent health facilities, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) donated all its 425 health facilities across the country as isolation centres for COVID-19. All these measures undertaken to contain the spread of the virus, in one way or the other affected the program of the seminary for the academic and formation year.
- THE BIGARD EXPERIENCE
A pertinent question that one needs to ask oneself (priests and seminarians) is: How was the seminary family able to contain and manage the situation? In the heat of such atmosphere of social, political, religious and economic upheavals, how was ‘the nursery bed of the Church and the future of the Church in Nigeria and Africa’ – the Bigard family – sustained? Because “the hope of the Church and the salvation of souls is being committed to those who are preparing for the priestly ministry” (Optatam Totius, no. 21), it was necessary to fashion out how best to take care of these gallant soldiers of Christ, the seminarians. It was for these and many other reasons that Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 (This was the title of the Calendarium and also the imaginary colloquium/guide for the 2020/2021 Academic/ Formation year) was envisioned and applied and now, assessed. This assessment would commence with the challenges faced and examine the seminary response to these challenges.
In my Holy Thursday 2021 homily, I made it categorically clear that as an institution used to order and discipline, the disruption of our normal school activities threw us off balance. The staff and students who were used to ordered life found it difficult to adjust to the new realities. Nerves were strained, teeth were sometimes bared, ideas robbed on each other. The seriousness of the challenges faced in the 2020/2021 academic and formation year was underlined by the fact that the drawing of the programme for the academic year almost took us till the end of the first semester, something usually done a year before. And there was no guarantee that further changes would not come.
The First Challenge was how to maintain essential services against all odds. Though the prices of goods and services had skyrocketed, those who were used to eating three (3) square meal a day would not hear that anything was lacking or scarce to come by. They would not want to hear that money may be there, but food items or other services continued to be scarce. They may not want to know how many times our student procurators had to sleep on the road, while in search of food.
The Second challenge was how to maintain order and discipline in such a chaotic situation. As a place of order and discipline, the seminary authority made it a point of duty to keep the COVID-19 protocol, even when the outside world was breaking it. The difficulties involved in asking the seminarians to keep COVID-19 protocol while out there nearly everybody is seen breaking it cannot be exaggerated. Priests and seminarians that are trained to approach issues logically, find themselves at a crossroad because COVID-19 has thrown all logic to the wind. Thus, without logic it is difficult for priests and seminarians to understand why,
- We have to wear face mask in the seminary, but when we go out, we put it off because no one is wearing it.
- The Holy Week processions were cancelled because of physical distancing, but everybody ended up jampacked in the Chapel for the rest of the activities.
- Even how to wear face mask was confusing and some were ready to fight over it.
- Cancellation of EFD’s, Sunday and Wednesday walks were necessary for the students.
- Perpetual handwashing rituals as well as use of sanitizers were also too much for some people.
The Third Challenge was how to maintain the spiritual and academic programmes of the house and still maintain physical distancing.
- The Seminary Response
- Seminary Programs:
In response to the above challenges, the seminary tailored her progamme in such a way as to surmount the obstacles they posed to seminary formation. These programmes are highlighted to serve either as reminiscence or as a way of emphasis; in order to help us envision the lessons and prospects of Seminary Formation Under COVID-19. These events which were credibly carried out under the COVID-19 protocols include:
- Covid-19 seminar/Sensitization Programme
On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the Bigard Family welcomed the Bigard Medical Team headed by Dr. Chike Akuyili and other invited health experts, to help enlighten us on the cause, symptoms and prevention of the COVID-19, in order to help contain its spread. It was indeed interactive and educative. After this enlightenment campaign, the seminary took measures to curb the spread of the virus such as:
- Compulsory washing of hands with soap and sanitizers before going into any hall for common exercises.
- Maintenance of social distancing which included having separate Masses and prayer sessions for the Theologians and the Philosophers.
- Lockdown of the seminary for outside visitors.
- Cancelation of Wednesday and Sunday walks for students.
- 27th March, 2020: In compliance with the Federal Government lockdown policy and the directives from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigerian, the seminary was partially indefinitely closed down
- 20th May, 2020: On Wednesday 20th May 2020, with the approval of the Bishops of the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Bigard adopted a specific online distance learning programme: the Google Classroom platform. For this to be effective, the seminary organized a two-day seminar for the formators and the external lecturers on the above programme. Experts were invited to train the lecturers. After the seminar, documents bearing detailed instructions on how to log into the programme were circulated to the students. The seminary also created a standby technical support team, who were stationed to help those who had difficulties with the programme. Through the co-operation and active participation of the lecturers and the seminarians, the academic and formation programme for the remaining part of the year, the second semester was to a great extent brought to a successful end. The seminary also succeeded in obtaining the approval of Google to customize her online distance learning programme using bigard.org with attendant facilities.
- 27th May, 2020: The Seminary Board held her meeting in St. John’s block. The agenda of the meeting focused on the welfare and growth of the seminary, especially in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic.
- 16th July, 2020, On this day, Bigard, in line with the directives of the Bishops of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province began a phased reopening of the seminary, by welcoming back the 4th year seminarians in the Theology and Philosophy Departments. Their return was occasioned by the need for them to prepare and write their final year examinations.
- 3rd August, 2020: The 4th year Philosophers started their BA examinations and ended on 13th August, 2020.
- 4th – 14th August, 2020: The degree examinations of the final year students in Theology took place.
- 17th – 22nd August, 2020: The degree examinations of the final year students in the Philosophy department took place.
- 1st – 21st September, 2020: The Bishops of the Province approved a phased re-opening, of the seminary for theology 1 – 3 students. This period was used for the preparation and the writing of the 2nd Semester Examamination.
- 2nd – 21st October, 2020: The Bishops of the Province approved a phased re-opening of the seminary, for philosophy 1 – 3 students from. This period was used for preparation and writing of their 2nd Semester examinations.
- 21st September, 2020 and 21st October, 2020: werethe vacation days for the 2019/2020 Academic/formation year in phases for the theologians and philosophers respectively.
- 14th October, 2020: The Theology Department resumed with the old and new students of the department arriving that day for the 2020/2021 Academic/Formation Year.
- 15th October to Friday 16th October, 2020: The orientation program for the Theology One students was conducted.
- 31st October, 2020: The Philosophy Department resumed with the old and new students of the department arriving that day for the 2020/2021 Academic/Formation Year.
- 1st November, 2020: The Philosophy one students who resumed on 31st October, 2020 had their own orientation program.
From the summary of the school Programme as stated above, one could see that the seminary’s yearly programme was greatly affected, needing multiple adjustments here and there in order to arrive at a wholesome formation of the seminarians. Consequently, these various adjustments could be seen in the phased examinations of the different classes, the reopening dates for the 2020/2021 academic and formation year and many others. Thus, granted that the year was not an easy one, it came to a glorious conclusion.
It is important to note too that none of these programmes was embarked on arbitrarily. For instance, it followed to the fullest, the “Transitional Norms for the Application of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium in the public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 epidemic” issued on 6th May, 2020 by the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE). For example, when the Transitional Norms said that “In this emergency situation, it seems reasonable that decisions on the means of distance learning should be taken locally, taking into consideration the specific circumstances, including the regulations enacted by the civil authorities,” Bigard adopted the Google Classroom platform few days after.
More so, the seminary programme paid attention to the letter written ‘on behalf of Most Rev. Valerian OKEKE (Chairman Bishops’ Conference for Seminaries Committee)’ and signed by Rev Fr. Isaac DUGU, the Director, Pastoral Agents Department, which was issued on 13th May, 2020 titled “EXHORTATION TO NATIONAL SEMINARIES COMMITTEE DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.” This letter invites different seminaries to “form a synergy [in order to] agree on one thing and set the implementation agenda running so that all seminaries in Nigeria are seen to be in uniformity rather than operate unilaterally.” The Bigard family was on ground to collaborate with those concerned. Thus, nothing was done without due consultations with the Bishops, the Rectors of different seminaries, the Formators and other individuals concerned.
- Feeding and Essential Services in the Seminary:
The lockdown policy adopted by the Federal Government brought untold hardships. International and state borders were closed and prices of staple food tripled in many cases.
Evidences abound that the Nigerian Government had no meaningful provision for assistance to those hardest-hit by the economic downturn of the pandemic. Added to these is the decision of the government to increase it tariffs on some goods and services under its direct control. For instance, our Electricity bill jumped from an average of four hundred thousand (N400,000.00) to above Eight Hundred Thousand Naira (N 800,000.00) per month. Even the procurement of chemicals for water treatment – essential for the survival of life in the seminary, was done at heavy costs and under difficult conidiations by our seminarian plumbers. It is on note that under the lockdown, the seminary had to continue to maintain essential services; pay her workers, feed the formators and those on essential services, pay the electricity and other bills at an astronomical rate.
It must be recalled that the #ENDSARS protest organized by Nigerian youths against police brutality and its concomitant clamp down by the government, brought more hardship to all and sundry. The cost of living and feeding skyrocketed.
On the area of feeding, items like: Bags of Stock Fish (cod) increased from ₦55,000 to ₦80,000; Groundnut oil increased from ₦9,000 to ₦14,000, Basket of Fresh tomatoes increased from ₦9,000 to ₦18,000 and then to ₦25,000; a 50 kg bag of rice climbed from an average of N13,000 to N26,000; a bag of beans from 18,000 to N45,000 and still counting. These are just to mention but a few. During this time too, many traders exploited the situation leading to the hoarding of some essential goods. For instance, the usual CLAPPER Tin Tomatoes which was used in preparing stew for jollof rice and which remains the best product for cooking became scarce in the whole market and even beyond the state. Also, the SCUMBIA type of fish, because of hoarding and subsequent scarcity, skyrocketed from ₦21,000 to ₦35,000 per carton. This was indeed an unthinkable situation and the challenges were enormous.
However, the more challenging aspect was the means of transporting the food stuffs to the seminary safely. The seminary had to contend with both mind-boggling increase in the transport fare and the worrisome insecurity in the country. Leaving the seminary to go and procure those items was as dangerous and it was unavoidable. Added to these was increment in the cost of Fuel/diesel. Again, the difficulty posed by the transportation of food items from the North to the seminary was unimaginable. For example, food items that should have been delivered in December 2020 were delayed until the later part of 2021, because of the crises and we had to buy from small dealers in some cases at double the price.
Nevertheless, thanks to God’s grace and the collaboration of all the Formators with the Rector, in all of these challenges the seminary proved herself a mother as she catered for the priests and the seminarians and staff adequately. It is remarkable that in a country and situation where it is difficult to feed a family of 5, the seminary feeds over 650 seminarians, 25 resident priests and more than eighty workers and their families totaling about two hundred (c.200). To boost the immunity of the students against Covid-19 infection, achieve a stable feeding and sustenance, some innovations were made. For example, it was during this time that the swapping of the additional cornflakes, milk and Special Bread (Celebrities) Bi-weekly were introduced. This time also saw to the normal Bi-weekly swapping of beef and fish for the consumption of students at least 3 times per week.
All the above notwithstanding, the seminary went ahead to increase the salaries of workers in different departments, as a means of encouraging them to give their best, and also to cushion the effects of the economy on them, at a time of need. It should be noted that in mid-2020, $1 exchanged for c. N460, while in mid-2021, $1 = c N550. Thus, whereas the US dollars’ gain over Naira within this period was c N100 or 20%, the cost of some of our food commodities increased by 100% or even more.
- Safety Measures:
Some measures were taken by the seminary to confront the challenges of the time. These measures were put in place following the stipulations laid down by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). They include: checking of the students’ body temperature on their return to the seminary; regular administration of vitamin C to students; practicing of physical distancing in classes, places of worship and rooms (no two persons were allowed to stay in a room during the heat of the pandemic); provision of sanitizers and places for hand washing; compulsory wearing of face masks to every common exercise; et cetera.
Also, various adjustments were made in the timetable in order to accommodate many exigencies. For example: The reopening of the seminary was done in phases to accommodate the students and properly regulate physical distancing in line with the Covid-19 protocols by the NCDC; the second semester examination of the 2019/2020 academic year was taken department by department; the final examinations were done far later than usual; the inauguration of the new academic year 2020/2021, which was usually an elaborate celebration with reception and paper presentation was only proclaimed in the chapel without the usual fanfare; some of the lectures had to offer online lectures because they were unable to make it back to Nigeria due to the COVID-19 restrictions in some countries; the students were also restricted from going out for their normal Wednesday and Sunday walks .
- General Remarks on Formation Programme Under COVID-19
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council insist that the seminarian is “to learn those virtues which are held in high regard by men and which recommend a minister of Christ. Such virtues are sincerity of mind, a constant concern for justice, fidelity to one’s promises, refinement in manners, modesty in speech coupled with charity” (Optatam Totius, 11). These are virtues that are acquired through discipline and hard work. Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 did not overlook this invitation made by the Church; the seminary saw to the day to day running of the seminary in the different aspects of the formation. The evaluation of the students was painstakingly carried out and the reports on each of the seminarians sent to their Bishops even at the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the year too, many extra-curricular activities were done to ensure that no area of the formation was found wanting. It would be recalled that as a follow-up to the resolutions of the Formators’ Forum held from November 2015 to April 2016, the Bigard formation team produced a MANUAL FOR ORIENTATION AND GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR STUDENTS. This is to aid new students adapt easily to the seminary system and culture, as well as provide useful information for the older students. The Seminary Rules as well as the guidelines (contained in the Manual and in Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 61) were faithfully observed by all seminarians for their proper formation within the year. The solidarity that played out here in achieving a wholistic formation is worth emphasizing.
- LESSONS AND PROSPECTS: HEALTHY SOLIDARITY
The Roman writer and Philosopher, Cicero was so correct when he said that: Historia vita memoriae [et] Magistra Vitae – History is the life of memory and the directress
of life. What lessons has Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 taught us and what meaning can we make out of it? As we occupy ourselves with this question, it is important to recall my words in the address I presented at the height of the Pandemic, on the 50thConvocation Ceremony of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, on Friday 19th March, 2021. Paragraph 7 of that well-informed and incisive address, reads: “Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 is quite strenuous experience for everyone. However, you must understand, in the words of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti no. 26 that ‘the first victim to every war is the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.’”
Highlighting on this, I went further to observe that: “It is a time when, people are faced, with what the Holy Father, referred to as the ‘temptation to build a culture of walls, to raise walls, walls in the heart, walls on the land.’” As endearing as those words sounded, it was that address that argued persuasively that with the pandemic, “the sense of our shared humanity is subverted, fractured and eventually destroyed.” The address did not stop there, but went further to proffer solutions which are in line with Pope Francis’s Querida Amazonia, no. 20 – “the effort to build a just society requires a capacity for fraternity, a spirit of human fellowship.” Thus, from that address, the lessons of moment are drawn. Thus, “Rather than being engrossed in the improvement of our world, let us remember that we are all involved in the affairs of humanity; wherever they are and whoever they may be…amidst the tendency to isolate ourselves, we realized how much we are dependent on each other. We realize that we have a common project – to build a society that would be safe for everyone. We realized also that we have a common enemy which we must fight together. This is the big lesson of the Covid-19 Pandemic” and by extension, of Seminary Formation Under COVID-19.
The key word remains, solidarity and it is the kind of solidarity that is healthy. In the seminary, it is the kind that makes one “recover the shared passion to create a community of belonging, worthy of our time, our energy and our resources” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 36). This will inform our thoughts and decisions in many things. It could help us make use of the opportunities we have now, to better the world and ourselves, leading us to the virtues of hard work and dedication in all aspects of the seminary formation. It also opens us up to the great potentials in us, especially when we work as a team and collaborators. Healthy solidarity also means allowing oneself to be informed by others – trusting mainly in the grace of God and the agents God is using in the seminary to achieve His purpose in the individual, the formandi. Healthy solidarity goes also into the areas of our lifestyles. It helps one to know that both materialism and consumerism are cog in the wheels of the progress and development of other persons with whom we share the resources of nature. It calls for a more humane way of using material things.
In his article entitled “La Lezione della Pandemia Da Covid-19 e le vie die Uscita,” Stefano Zamagni outlined two future possibilities in a post COVID-19 world (Studia Moralia 58/2 2020).
The first possibility is that the world returns to the situation it was before the outbreak of Covid-19. In such a situation, the objective would be to return to business as usual.
The second possibility is that the world would be transformed by the events surrounding Covid-19, in such a way that it would be better prepared, to surmount future similar challenges.
The two possibilities also lay before the seminary as objectives to be adopted in its search for a way out of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
This colloquium paper: Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 has demonstrated that the measures taken by the seminary are measures that are transformative rather than aimed at returning to business as usual. In this paper, we undertook a historical and existential study of the life of Bigard Memorial seminary, Enugu, when the Corona Virus set the whole world blazing with fears, hopelessness and the illusion of self-sufficiency.The seminary, thanks to the healthy solidarity she enjoys continues to make progress in all aspects of formation – pastoral, academic, spiritual and human. The transformative experiences of COVID-19 should help us appreciate more the essence of these four pillars of formation. In as much as we do not pray for another pandemic it would be playing the ostrich, if we were to sweep everything that happened under the carpet and return to business as usual.
The aim of this colloquium paper is not to exhaust everything we experienced during this trying period, but to challenge us to look critically at the ups and downs occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic with a view to identifying its transformative aspects on our seminary formation.
With the above in mind, moderators and students should take critical look at this colloquium paper and freely choose any modus operandi to discuss the paper, bearing in mind the following questions as guidelines:
- Should our Covid-19 formation experience only lead us to return to pre Covid-19 business as usual?
- Should our Covid-19 formation experience be transformative?
- What are the transformative effects of Seminary Formation Under COVID-19 on the four aspect of formation viz: pastoral, academic, spiritual and human?
NB: Students’ contributions should be based on their own personal experiences.
In conclusion, one word that expresses how the seminary feels about all of this is gratitude.
Thus, as we recount the travails and achievements we recorded under Covid-19 pandemic so far, we will not fail to give thanks to God for enabling us to live up to the challenges posed by this pandemic. It has not been easy but we have managed to get where we are thus far. Our gratitude goes to the Bishops of the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province for their fatherly care and support throughout these times. To the community of Formators: it is a pleasant and good thing when brothers live together (Ps 133:1) for together we move mountains. We say a very big thank you to you all. To our students past and present, the seminary is very grateful for your support and sacrifices so far. Some of our students – procurators, plumbers, electrician, infirmarians etc. took great risks and endangered their lives in the course of carrying out their functions, for the good of all of us. The lessons are inspiring – that healthy solidarity is possible and that its benefits are enduring.
As we move on with the formation of better candidates for the priesthood, we pick up the lessons dropped by the challenging times we are experiencing during this COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than allowing these trying times to be a stumbling block to us, we should make them stepping stones to greater heights in future, for the good of our country and for the good of the Church at large.
To God be the Glory!!!