BIGARD MEMORIAL SEMINARY, ENUGU HOLDS HER COLLOQUIM FOR THE 2023/2024 ACADEMIC/FORMATION YEAR
A colloquium is a type of academic gathering or seminar where scholars, researchers, or students come together to discuss and exchange ideas on a specific topic or research area. It is because of this reason that Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu has it as an annual custom to always begin every academic year with a colloquium which always centers around a paper written by the Rector on a particular issue which affected the seminary or society in the recent past. The colloquium paper for this academic year which was titled “Pastoral Leadership in Seminary Formation: Nigerian Experience”, did not as usual develop from a vacuum but resulted from the backdrop of the 20223 general elections in Nigeria and the role of priests therein.
The colloquium paper for this year centered on the impact of an interview granted by our Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, to GMT News, in preparation for the Seminary’s centenary celebration. During the interview, the Rector was asked whether the Seminary’s training adequately prepares seminarians for leadership roles in society, given the prominent partisan roles priests played in the recent elections. This prompted a reevaluation of priests’ roles as leaders. The colloquium was divided into two sessions, the morning session was held according to classes with each class tasked with discussing the paper amongst themselves led by two or more Formators as moderators.
In a brief summary, the paper references authors Anthony D’Souza and Robert Greenleaf, who outline qualities of a good leader, including initiative, open-mindedness, decisiveness, empathy, goal orientation, and effective communication. The paper connects these leadership qualities to seminary formation, emphasizing Christ as a servant leader and pastor. Biblical passages highlight the dual dimensions of service to God and humanity. Priests are encouraged to emulate Christ’s pastoral care for his flock. In the Nigerian political arena, the paper commends the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria as exemplars of pastoral leadership due to their vocal stance against societal issues. It advises priests to be politically informed and avoid using the pulpit for political campaigning. The paper then explores how seminaries, using Bigard Memorial Seminary as an example, equip seminarians with pastoral leadership skills. Systems like house formation, pious associations, social associations, seminars, and students’ councils all contribute to holistic development of seminarians in this area. While seminaries effectively provide leadership skills, the challenge lies in seminarians applying these skills in pastoral work after ordination.
The evening session began exactly at 4:00 PM, with an opening prayer led by one of our spiritual directors, Rev. Fr. Dr. Christian Agala. This was followed by class presentations of the results of their discussions and deliberations to the general body on the theme in their different classes. Most of the classes agreed that indeed the seminary is doing its best to prepare future priests to become good servant leaders in the future. After these presentations, the audience made up of seminarians and Formators also asked questions while also making their own personal contributions.
The Fr. Rector then expressed his gratitude to all participants while also emphasizing that both seminarians and Formators must collaborate effectively to nurture future Church leaders. The closing remarks was delivered by the Vice Rector 1, Rev. Fr. Dr. Kelvin Udenwangu, who praised the Rector for selecting such an insightful and very important topic. He also thanked those responsible for organizing the event and acknowledged the active participation of seminarians throughout the colloquium. The event concluded with a closing prayer led by Rev. Fr. Dr. Godwin Orji, at exactly 5:33 PM.