Bishop C V C Onaga Inaugurates 2018/2019 Academic and Formation Year, Commissions New Formator’s Quarters

The Inauguration ceremony started on the eve of October 28, 2019 with an inaugural football match at the Bigard FIFA field by 4:00pm. The match which was between the Bigard team and a team from Peace Land College of Education Enugu ended in a 2-2 draw.

The football match gave way for vespers, then, a warm reception organized in honor of the inaugurating prelate Most Rev. C V C Onaga the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese. The special guest was ushered into the auditorium by the Bigard fans of Jesus. The opening prayer was said by one of the spiritual directors of Bigard Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Egwu. The breaking and blessing of the Kola-nut was masterfully done by the Bishop Prelate. The Rector, Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, in an address of welcome, appreciated the highly dignifying episcopal presence of the inaugurating prelate; he thanked him in a special way for his fatherly supports and encouragements through which the seminary realized eighteen million naira for the new Father’s quarter. He prayed the almighty God to bless his efforts with success.

The address was followed by entertainments. Egwu Ekpili by Bartholomew and group, who owns the ship adrift: a song by Egwuchukwu Emmanuel, and Stand-up comedy and jokes by Ojigwe Crown livened up the session. The Bishop while responding to the reception organized in his honor appreciated immensely the large heart and hospitality of the Bigard family. He praised the rector for the much achievements he has recorded within the short time he has spent in the office, he equally prayed God to bless his effort. He thanked all that participated most especially Egwu Ekpili group; he beckoned on them to keep alive our culture by expanding the tentacles of their talents to outside the four walls of the seminary. Rev. Fr. Mellitus Ossai in his vote of thanks, thanked all and sundry for the calmed patience of the night. He thanked the Bishop for his fatherly love, Fr. Rector for his doggedness and spirit of dedication and the formators and students for their efforts that saw to the success of this first segment of the inauguration programme. This first part of the programme was brought to a close with a closing prayer by Fr Hyginus Mba and a final Blessing by His Lordship, Most Rev. C V C Onaga.

Moreover, the inauguration day being Monday, 29th Oct., 2018 kicked off with an inaugural Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit presided over by the inaugurating prelate, Most Rev. C V C Onaga and a host of other concelebrating priests. In his homily topic: “You shall be called the priests of God”, he reminded the seminarians that “they are called to become priests and ministers of God which means that all their trainings in the seminary should be geared towards modelling their lives after Christ who is the chief priest”.  Borrowing a leaf from the Emeritus Pope, Benedict XVI, on his letter to the seminarians on 8th October 2018, the officiating prelate stated that anyone who wishes to be a priest must be a man of God.Therefore seminarians must be men of God. Hence, man of God is one whose network with God is always available. This availability is sustained only through prayers. Therefore he advised seminarians to always pray in other to be priests after the mind of Christ. He advised the seminarians to develop the qualities of men of God such as Piety, obedience, credibility, sincerity etc. He finally admonished that these qualities should be developed by one who has not developed it and should be nurtured by those who have them already. Before the end of the Mass, Fr Blaise Emebo briefly expressed his unreserved appreciation to all who honored the Seminary by their presence and prayed for God’s blessings on them all.

With the Mass ended and photo shots taken in front of the Bigard Main Chapel, there was a joyful procession of all seminarians to the newly constructed Fr’s house. Before the formal commissioning of the house by the officiating prelate, the president of the Student Council, Mr John Offor presented the New Formators quarter to the officiating prelate in a note of address. In the address, he recognized that, as has been the tradition that houses in Bigard are named after the fathers of faith in this part of the world, the new edifice will be named after the first indigenous formator of Bigard Memorial Enugu, His eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze. After the presentation, Most Rev. CVC Onaga performed the rite of the blessing of the House and commissioned Cardinal Arinze Fr’s house to the Glory of God.

The Seminary rolled out drums in a reception at the Blessed Iwene Tansi Auditorium to entertain her esteemed guests. In continuation of ritual of the inauguration of the Academic and Formation Year, anthems were rendered by the Bigard Fans of Jesus in the following order: Papal anthem, National anthem and Bigard anthem. This was immediately followed by the presentation of kolanut which was blessed in accordance with tradition by the Bishop.

In his address, the rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa expressed his gratitude to God for His graces and blessings on the Seminary as well as his heartfelt appreciation to the officiating prelate for his fatherly support both spiritually and financially and for honoring the invitation to preside over these great events. He equally encouraged all to feel at home. After the address, the Bigard Main Choir entertained all with a classical choral presentation, after which the Rector made a solemn request on the officiating prelate for the year’s inauguration to officially declare the 2018/2019 academic and formation year open. In a solemn and ceremonial manner, the Cardinal in prayer declared open the Academic/Formation Year. This was followed by a thunderous and joyous applause by the entire Bigard Family and her guests.

Furthermore, the high point of the occasion was the awarding of prizes and the recognition of the outstanding students both in character and learning from the previous academic year.The HOD of Philosophy Department, Rev. Fr. Ani Humphrey presented the philosophers who distinguished themselves in academics. Rev. Fr. Dr. Ohajuobodo Oko the HOD dean Theology Department did the same for the theology department. The Dean of Student affairs, Rev. Fr. Justin Utazi, presented the best behaved seminarians.

Nevertheless, the presentation of the winner of the annual “Francis Cardinal Arinze Award”, an award given to the best student in academics in fourth year theology, judging from a cumulative result of the three years of theological studies already done. This year, the winner was Mr. Emmanuel Nwafor. On another note, the annual award of “Best Behaved Seminarian” in Bigard, which normally is chosen from the fourth year theology students, went to Mr. John Okafor.

In his closing remarks, the officiating Prelate Most Rev. CVC Onaga added to his generosity by promising the seminary a sum of 2 million naira in other to make 18 million naira collected from donations in his different parishes a round figure. He equally extended his generosity to the two dancing groups Egwu Ekpili and Ojinakatogbo of Enugu and Awgu diocese with the sum of 50 thousand naira and 100 thousand naira respectively.

Moreover, Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igboanugo, the Vice Rector I of Bigard, gave the vote of thanks. He highly appreciated the officiating prelate for his efforts and what he is for the seminary. He prayed almighty God to strengthen him all the more. He equally thanked all and sundry and asked God to bless each person in their life endeavors.  The event was brought to a successful end with a closing prayer by Fr. Dr. Raphael Egwu and a final blessing by Most Rev. CVC Onaga.

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