Days keep turning and turning, and as the tick-tack of the clock keeps going, day dissolve into night, which unfolds into day and as always, history is made. History is of event, event is a creation of man, and event takes place in time and time honors man. On the 19th day of March, 2014, time honored our dear own sons, theology and philosophy graduates, as we celebrated with and congratulated them on their convocation day.
The success of the 43rd convocation ceremony of Bigard Memorial Seminary held on 19th day of March, 2014 was preempted by the 2-0 win of the Bigard main team over the Soccer Star club of Enugu on the eve of the ceremony, 18th day of March 2014. The friendly match was organized to welcome the officiating prelate for the convocation, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, the catholic Bishop of Orlu diocese. The friendly match was succeeded by Eucharistic celebration presided over by one of the graduating priests Rev. Fr. Calistus Ezeokafor. The activities on the eve were brought to an end with the warm reception of the officiating Prelate and the graduates at the seminary Auditorium at 9:0 PM. The reception was colored and spiced up with a conglomerate of activities, such as cultural dance, comedy and so on. Also the spiritually invigorating words from the Bishop and the graduates served as a formidable suspense for the remaining programs of the ceremony that continued the next day.
The main activities of the convocation proper commenced on the 19th day of March 2014, with the Eucharistic celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The homily of the officiating prelate, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, who presided over the mass, dotted with thrilling illustrations and hearty admonitions centered on the roles of St. Joseph in the salvation of humanity, made the ceremony not only an academic event, but also a spiritual exercise.
After the Eucharistic celebration, the rest of the convocation programs continued at the seminary Auditorium, starting with the usually aesthetic procession of the graduates and the formators in their convocation gown into the Auditorium. The procession was followed by the sonorous rendition of the Papal and Bigard Anthems by the Bigard main choir. The opening prayer by Rev. Fr. Dr. Theophilus Anyanwu set rolling the rest of the activities at the Auditorium.
The Rector, Rev. Fr. Dr. Theophilus U. Igwe, in his address, announced that this year’s convocation ceremony was the 43rd one that the school is witnessing. He then expressed his sincere gratitude to God for His inexhaustible providence and continued sustenance of the Bigard family. He went further to heartily welcome all and sundry, especially the convocation prelate, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, the catholic Bishop of Orlu diocese.
According to the Rector, “Our gathering today draws great flavor from the multiplicity of its essence. First and foremost, we have all come together to give gratitude to God, in whom we live, move and have our being. We have also come to celebrate with the 2013 Bigard graduands in the both departments of Philosophy and Theology, who were here yesterday as students and today as alumni. In a very special way, therefore, we would like to acknowledge the efforts of these our graduands who have excelled in learning, character and discipline. In doing so, we wish to challenge them to keep up the struggle, to translate what they have learnt here in the seminary into creative actions, to utilize any opportunity for progress in the future, to strike a daring blow on the barriers that hinder improvement and to work more generously according to the mind of the Church and after God’s own heart.”
The Rector then humbly requested the officiating prelate to declare the 43rd convocation of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu open. The Bishop diligently following the routine ritual of declaration granted the request of the Rector.
Accordingly, the convocation Prelate in his short but insightful speech, replete with strong words of exhortation, congratulated and admonished the graduands to embrace the society in which they find themselves. He enjoined the graduating students not to be afraid to face the world. He said that they should be ‘counter currents’ to the tide of error and godlessness in the society. He instructed them to be backbones of the church and not bones of contention of the Church, saying: “Go and maintain the structures of the church..as theologians and as philosophers.” He beckoned on the people of God gathered to “challenge the clergy by taking interest in ecclesial and societal matters, as God’s own People.”
Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igboanugo in his convocation lecture delivered a paper entitled: ‘Reconstruction of the Major Seminary on the seed of Moses to be truly Catholic and a University.’ According to him, the choice of this topic came as a result of an article written by Cardinal Francis Jorge of Archdiocese of Chicago. He cited the figure of Moses from the historical purview in the Torah. He further reflected on the essence of the university in the medieval period, where some monasteries even in Rome were transformed into Universities; such as the Dominican Institute and so on.
In his advocacy for the establishment of a Catholic University, Fr. Igboanugo proposed the possibility of an independent Seminary with a university status. From him, “this may involve admission of both seminarians and lay men and women either as part time or as full time students.” He expressed his fear of the possibility of “the largest seminary in the world, being wounded or lost.” He beckoned on the proprietors of the seminaries to cast a critical look into the seminaries in Nigeria and try to follow Pope John XXIII who solicited for “opening of the windows of the church.” In like manner, the windows of the seminary must be opened. He went further to offer some recommendations as a starting point for making a seminary a true Catholic University.
The long awaited moment came when the heads of departments of philosophy and theology came up respectively to present the results of the graduands. The Head of Department of Philosophy Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Dr. A. Obiwulu, came forward for the presentation of the award of Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, B. Phil. In his address, Fr. Obiwulu, carefully outlined some challenges facing the graduands. He said: “statistics reveal that among five Nigerians three are liars.” “You should then be ready to correct the anomaly in the society.” He finally gave the analyses of the results of the philosophers juxtaposing it with the results of the previous two sets thus:
|Grade.||Convocation 2012||Convocation 2013||Convocation 2014|
|Bene Probatus/3rd Class||14||20||18|
|Cum Laude Probatus/2nd Class Lower Division||85||94||58|
|Magna cum Laude Probatus/ 2nd Class Upper Division
Summa Cum Laude Probatus/1st Class
The officiating prelate congratulated the Summa Cum Lauda candidates and vested them with their hoods on behalf of the entire graduands of philosophy.
Furthermore, Rev Fr. Dr. Cajetan Iyidobi, Assistant Dean of Studies of Theology Department of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, presented the results of the graduating Theologians. He thanked the graduands for their hard work and for disposing themselves for the grace of God to work upon them. For him the day’s event was a commission for greater expectations. Failure he insisted ‘is never final and success is never ending. Success is a journey not a destination’. He then congratulated the graduating students and presented them to the convocation prelate for the award of Degree in Divinities. Below is the analysis of the results.
|Grade||Convocation 2012||Convocation 2013||Convocation 2014|
|Cum Laude Probatus||18||36||22|
|Magna cum Laude Probatus||82||95||51|
|Summa cum Laude Probatus||16||25||11|
|Total No. of Candidates||118||159||86|
Another interesting moment came when the best graduating student from the department of Theology Rev. Fr. Anthony Ezeokeke, presented his scholarly valedictory speech on behalf of other graduands. He reflected on the theme: Rethinking the African Family Values.As the Universal Church Reflects on the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of New Evangelization. The paper was indeed pastorally enriching and intellectually insightful and unique.
Finally, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Cletus Umezinwa thanked all present for the ceremony, especially the officiating Prelate, the Rector and the visitors. Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Egwu then said the closing prayer, while the presiding Prelate gave the Episcopal benediction, that declared the formal session closed