The 2016/2017 academic and formation year which resumed on 5th October 2016, was officially inaugurated on Monday, 31st October, 2016, by Most. Rev. Dr. Michael Odogwu Elue, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku. This solemn occasion started on Sunday evening, 30th October, 2016, with a football match between Bigard Football Team, and Caritas University Football Team. The match kicked off by the Inaugurating Prelate at 4:00pm in the Bigard main field, ended with a scoreline of 2:1 in the favour of the Bigard team.
After the vespers which was graced with the presence of the Bishop, there was a warm reception organized in his honor. The Inaugurating prelate, together with the Bigard Formators was ushered into the auditorium by Igbaumu ogaranya cultural dance of Onitsha and Nnewi Dioceses. The opening prayer was said by one of Bigard’s spiritual directors, Rev. Fr. Johnbosco Okoye, after which the Bishop blessed and broke the kola nut presented to him.
The Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Okechukwu Ikpenwa, in an address of welcome, thanked God for providentially endorsing the activities of the evening. He further articulated his deepest sentiment of gratitude to the Bishop for accepting to honour the seminary with his presence for the year’s inauguration of the Academic and Formation Year. The Rector, addressing the Bishop as a noble prince of the Church, x-rayed some of his several good works.
Here, the Rector pronounced that the presence of the Bishop evokes the memory of a life of total dedication and service to humanity, hence exposing the Bishop’s humanitarian, administrative, pastoral and academic proficiencies. The Rector presented the august visitor with some gifts from the seminary, and finally thanked his co-formators for their sacrifices and invaluable support, also the seminarians for their docility and openness as the seminary pursues the goal of building a communion of persons.
The address was followed by an enticing, but brief music interlude by the Band of Bigard (BOB), and a trilling cultural dance display by Ojianyalele dancing troop of the seminarians of Abakaliki Diocese.
The Bishop while responding to the reception organized in his honor, appreciated the warm hospitality shown him by the entire Bigard family. He, hence, declared that he was overwhelmed and could not afford missing the invitation. Being once a Formator and Lecturer in All Saints Major Seminary Ugheli, Ekpoma, the Bishop was quick enough to say that he is always at home in any seminary he finds himself. He narrated his challenging experiences along the tedious road of life, and advised all present to always rely on God while taking decisions, believing that we shall conquer all challenges, yet remain strong, sound, and sane. Finally, he advised all to embrace humility and always hold on to thus “when you have done all things well, always remember to say – I have done all things, I am just a lowly servant” (cf. Lk. 17:10)
The Vice Rector (I), Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igboanugo gave the vote of thanks. The day was brought to a close with the closing prayer said by one of the spiritual directors, Rev. Fr. Hyginus Mba and an episcopal blessing by the Bishop.
The inauguration day being Monday, 31st October, 2016 kicked off with an inaugural votive mass of the Holy Spirit presided over by the inaugurating prelate, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Odogwu Elue. After the mass the rest of the inauguration activities continued in the seminary auditorium.
The opening prayer was said by a spiritual director, Rev. Fr. Hyginus Mba, followed immediately by National, Bigard and Papal Anthems properly and melodiously rendered by the Fans of Jesus.
The Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa in his keynote address, reminded all present of the reason for the day’s occasion, and prayed for God’s providence to its success. The Rector beckoned on the Bishop to officially declare the academic year open. The Bishop performed the function in these words “I declare the 2016/2017 Academic and Formation year open”, hence, this was followed by an atmosphere of jubilation and gladness. Click to read more.
The Inaugurating Prelate, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Elue, in his inspiring and motivational speech, revealed how special and important seminarians are, and advised all seminarians to be exceptional in all their endeavours. Furthermore, he bore witness to the fact that Catholic Seminaries are exceptional in their pursuit of academic excellence when compared with other academic institutions.Hence, he advised seminarians not to settle with being good or very good, but to aim at incomparability. Finally, he advised seminarians to remain resolute, and not be discouraged by very many pondering remarks made against the Catholic Church and her priests, bearing in mind that they are called for this, and their mission is to be exceptional.
After the official declaration of the academic year, the seminary main choir melodiously praised God for his blessings on the Bigard family. This was followed by an inaugural lecture given by Rev. Fr. Dr Sylvanus Nnoruka, titled: IN SEARCH OF OUR COMMON HUMANITY.
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 the philosophy department, Rev. Fr. Vitalis Ukwuaba presented the philosophers who distinguished themselves in academics the previous year. Click to read the presentation of Candidates.
• Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Obasi the HOD, theology department did the same for the theology department. Click to read the presentation of Candidates.
• The Dean of Students’ affairs, Rev. Fr. Remigius Ibudialo presented the best behaved seminarian from every class for the previous session, and then, the overall Bigard best behaved seminarian from the theology four class, by name Mr. Mama Felix.
The vote of thanks was given by the Vice Rector II, Rev. Fr. Dr. Miletus Ossai, where he appreciated the efforts of everyone, especially that of the Inaugurating Prelate, and prayed God to lead him safely back to his flock. After few announcements, the closing prayer was said by the chief liturgist of Bigard, Rev. Msgr. Donatus Ogudo, followed by the Bishop’s blessing which brought the occasion to a successful end.