As has been her tradition, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, on Monday, 8th of October 2018, organized her annual Colloquium, to mark the beginning of the 2018/2019 Academic and Formation Year. The Colloquium at the beginning of the academic year is usually an avenue for the students and the College of Formators to discuss on the particular theme that would serve as keyword and guideline for the work of the academic, spiritual, human, and pastoral formation year in the seminary.
The theme of the Colloquium for the 2018/2019 academic and formation year was centred on “A Reflection on the Priestly Ministry”, which was a paper presented to the formators and students of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, during last years’ inauguration of the academic and formation year,on Monday 9th October 2017, by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze. The Colloquium started at exactly 9:00am, with formators and students gathered in various lecture hallsto deliberate on the Colloquium paper. Each group was moderated by at least two priests from the Team of Bigard Formators. For proper documentation and to facilitate presentation at the plenary session, each group appointed a secretary who took note and synthesized the points discussed and the conclusions arrived at. At the end of the first session, which lasted till 12:30pm, the secretaries put together the proceedings, proposals and suggestions of their group discussions in readiness for presentation at the general forum later in the day.
The general forum, which started at 4:00pm, took place atthe Seminary Auditorium. The auditorium was filled to the brims, with all Bigard Seminarians, the Rector, and virtually all the formation facilitators in attendance. It started with an opening prayer said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Egwu, one of Bigard’s spiritual directors. After the opening prayer, the MC of the day, Mr. Emmanuel Okafor invited the secretaries of all the classes to present the results of the deliberations held earlier.
The following are the secretaries of the groups.
|Philosophy Two (Group one)
|Philosophy Two (Group Two)
|Theology Two (Group One)
|Theology Two (Group Two)
From the presentations of the secretaries, it became clear that the primary aim of this years’ colloquium is to remind the formators and seminarians of the demands of priestly ministry. The presentation followed the division of the theme into five subtopics:
- The Celebration of the Holy Eucharist
- The Priest’s Attitude to Earthly Goods
- Zeal in the Apostolate
- Respect and Encourage the Layperson’s Distinctive Role
- The term “Vocation”
On the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the whole groups agreed that the Holy Eucharist remains the major function of every priest. This is why he must place the highest value on it. The priest, in order to do this, must prepare adequately for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This will be achieved by his punctuality, obedience to liturgical norms and avoidanceof all forms of ecclesiastical “showmanship”. He must equally recognize that dancing has no place in the Eucharistic celebration because the sacrifice of the Mass is for adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. Other forms of aberrations like fund raising and bazaar during Mass, lengthy homilies and theological acrobatics are strictly forbidden.
Secondly, with regards to the Priest’s Attitude to Earthly Goods, the groups looked at what should be the ideal, what is the reality and then suggested what could be the organic solution to the malady of inordinate attachment to earthly goods. The groups advocated for the compatible principles of simplicity of life and a sense of detachment of prospective and actual ministers of the gospel in dealing frommaterial goods. The priesthood is and cannot be a place of refuge for weaklings who are slaves to their own over-ambition. Hence, the groups roundly condemned the inordinate and outrageous inclinations to material goods at the detriment of the primary and fundamental work of the minister which is the celebration of the sacraments.
Thirdly, in addressing the Zeal of the ministers in the Apostolate,the groups accepted that the zealous priest is the one who has the fireof divine love of Christ burning continuously in his heart. Once this fiery love for Christ is aglow in him, he would not turn into a busy-body, rather, he wouldthrust himself wholly into the things pertaining to his priestly ministry. There would be time to visit the sick, to teach and catechize the faithful, and accept the circumstances of one’s postings, functions or assignment in good faith. Furthermore, as a result of this zeal, he would be spurred into a reasonable and profitable manner of using the ICT in the propagation of the gospel without being distracted by it.
Fourthly, on respect and encouragement of the layperson’s distinctive role, it was generally accepted that Christ’s lay faithful are called to embrace their vocation to the lay apostolate. This is a vocation that begins at baptism. Bearing in mind that the laypersons constitute over 99% of the members of the Church, the Catholic hierarchy should realize, recognizeand foster the special charisms which the lay faithful are endowed with. Hence, a sound theological and apostolic formation of the lay faithful is highly encouraged in our time. The clergy should not see this as a challenge to their own ministry, rather as a call for a cooperative effort from both parties for the growth of the Church.
Finally, on the term “vocation”, the groups reached a consensus that vocation comes from the Latin root “vocare” which means to call. It is a call to service. It is a call which pertains to one’s choice of life/state of living (profession). It is a call which does not only apply to those in the clerical or religious state of life; rather it is a call peculiar to every individual depending on one’s choice of living – which might include the married life, celibate life and the consecrated/religious life. Therefore, each of the Christian faithful – the clergy, the religious and the laity – isbound to respect the Christian vocation of the others since our Christian vocation is a call for collaborative service in the Church depending on one’s state of life. Hence, the priest should not encroach in the work of the laity and vice versa.
At the end of the presentations by the secretaries, the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa in his closing remarks expressed his heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the students and to the College of Formators for participating actively in the Colloquium. The closing prayer was said at 5:50pm by one of the Bigard’s spiritual directors, Fr. JohnBosco Okoye.