Bigard Stood Still for Old Boys as they Returned for 9th General Meeting

Gaps were bridged and air of nostalgia thickened for Bigard Old Boys as they threw themselves into the loving alms of Mother Bigard. In that maternal bosom, old friends reconnected, brotherhood was reinforced, and old memories were renewed. What a great reunion for Bigard Family!

The 2-day program which lasted from 18-19th November, 2018, opened with a football match between the Old Boys of Owerri/Calabar versus Onitsha Provinces. The match kicked off at exactly 4pm. Both teams were very good, but the Onitsha Provincial team who was not ready to settle for anything but victory later secured a 1:0 win.

The football match was followed by the usual Sunday evening liturgy: Vespers, Benediction, and Compline. After supper and a mini recreation,  events at the auditorium already kicked off at 20.45 hours.

Led into the auditorium by Ikorodo Cultural Dance, the Alumni settled and all was set for a night that one of the Alumni would later describe as his ‘best of nights’. And true, it was. The seminarians were not ready to spare any single moment. Every single breath was put into making the home-coming the best it could be for the Alumni. Nothing was left out: musical orchestra filled the air; the Ogene sound engaged every available leg and heads.

Then came the moment all waited for, a round-table talk with the theme “the tales seminary reminiscences” by the old boys themselves. Indeed, it was the climax of the night’s events. Some of the Alumni were invited across different fields to tell their own seminary stories.  What were the experiences that moulded my life in the seminary – the most and less impressive ones? The discussant were: Prof. Oliver Anowor, Professor of Adult and Continuing Education, ESUT; Hon. Vitalis Emeka Onah, MD/CEO Bconvit Oil and Gas Servicing Ltd.; Rev. Fr. Dr. Bernard Ukwuegbu, Former Vice Rector Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri, and Fr. Wilfred Ugochukwu Ogudinma, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, Osumenyi, Nnewi – Anambra State.

Their discussion rotated through socio-spiritual axis, relationships, regrets, and happy moments of their seminary days. To the question – how did you cope with studies when philosophical courses were taught in Latin language? “Well, on the one hand, it was a herculean task. Since we were thinking in English, one needed to reprocess  the Latin in English in order to understand; but on the other hand, our knowledge of Latin was generally deepened”,  one of the discussants shared.

The day II began with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Rev Fr. Prof. Peter-Damian Akpunonu, who was a former Rector of Bigard and is popularly known as “the Rector of Rectors”. Anchoring his insightful homily on the zeal with which the family of Jesus sought for his welfare, he urged seminarians to develop deep friendship with Jesus and a burning zeal for him and his mission.

With the Eucharistic Celebration ended, the stage was set for the Alumni General Meeting which took place in the Seminary Auditorium.  In his address, at the beginning of the meeting, the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Albert Ikpenwa expressed his joy and gratitude to the Old Boys for coming home to Mother Bigard, but also for their support and enthusiasm for the revival of the Bigard Alumni Association.  In addition, he mentioned some of the major achievements of the seminary in the last few years and called attention to other on-going and planned projects like the Ave Maria Court, Bigard Primary School Classroom, and the Centenary Hostel. Following his address were the addresses of the General Coordinator, Very Rev. Fr Sylvanus Nnoruka, and the General Alumni President, Prof. Oliver Onowor. The duo happily recounted that the effort so far put into reviving the Bigard Alumni has begun to pay off. Thanking the Provincial Bishops for their interventions, they enjoined everyone to be part of the success story of Bigard Alumni. With the addresses concluded, the seminarians were excused to enable the Alumni to go into their general meeting.

It is to be recalled that Bigard Memorial Seminary which was conceived in 1922 and inaugurated in 1924 has graduated over 87 sets consisting of high-profile individuals among whom are 3 Cardinals, 12 Archbishops, 33 Bishops, and numerous priests within and outside of Nigeria. Outside of the ecclesiastical circle, Bigard too has produced influential politicians, successful businessmen, and highly placed intellectuals.

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