The 29th National Convention of NACATHS holds in Bigard

Theology Students from all Nigerian Major Seminaries thronged the compound of Bigard Memorial Seminary on the evening of Monday, 12th day of March, 2018, for the 29th National Convention of National Association of Catholic Theology Students (NACATHS) with the theme; “The Church in Africa and the Challenges of Culture”slated to last from Monday, 12th March to Friday 16th March 2018.
On Tuesday, 13th March, 2018, the Rector of Bigard, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa in the Holy Mass that inaugurated the convention, welcomed the NACATHS delegates from different seminaries in Nigeria, and adjoined all to feel at home. Speaking during the homily, the Moral Theologian emphasized on the role of theologians in the evangelization of society, and admonished all seminarians to participate actively in the week’s event so as to be better equipped to surmount the challenges of evangelisation in the modern world.
After the Mass, the next activity was held at the seminary auditorium. With all Bigard Seminarians and the NACATHS participants seated, the Band of Bigard elegantly ushered in the guests and paper presenters which included: His Excellency Mr Donald Duke, (the former governor of Cross-River State), Rev. Fr. Prof Christian Anieke, (the Vice-Chancellor, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu State), and Chief Hon. Dr. Alex Ogbonna (the President Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu State), alongside all Bigard formators.
With the floor set for the first session of the convention, the opening prayer was said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Egwu (Bigard’s Spiritual Director), after which the echoes of the anthems by Band of Bigard took the centre stage as the National, Bigard and NACATHS anthems were sung.
While reading the welcome address, the Rector of Bigard observed the positive and rapid growth of Christianity in Africa, and thus reminded the seminarians of the need to be true disciples of Christ, for one cannot engage in any effective evangelization without a personal relationship with Jesus through discipleship. He once again welcomed the paper presenters, guests, formators and the seminarians to the great occasion.
Rev. Fr. Clement Obasi, the National Moderator of NACATHS and the HOD, Theology Department in Bigard, joined his voice to that of the Rector to welcome the paper presenters, and called on the students to devote their time and attention to the program, so as to gather incisive thoughts and knowledge that will definitely widen their horizon about the state, the church and culture in general.
Still on the welcome address, Clifford Ojukwu, the National President of NACATHS in his address, implored the students to sit supine and listen attentively to the speakers. After the address, the MC for the day, Rev. Paulinus Ezema invited the first paper presenter to the rostrum.
His Excellency, Mr Donald Duke, in his paper entitled: “Politics of Deception, Marginalization and Regional Agitations in Nigeria: A Case for Recognition of Nigeria’s Unity”, proffered restructuring as a panacea to Nigeria’s unity. The necessity of restructuring is explained by the inequality of distribution of the nation’s resources. Few have enough to feed on while the majority have less/none to their needs. He bemoaned the lazy attitude of the government in investing the resources accruing from the oil sector into other sectors like agriculture.
He criticised the poor vision of the country. “This is a state that has failed to invest on the efforts and talents of the youth”, he said. For him, the economic state of a country is judged by the number of job opportunities she was able to offer within a year.
Finally, the former Executive Governor of Cross-River State envisaged a country that will be able to build its economy from the productivity of the people as well as a visionary leader whose political ideology accommodates restructuring as way out.
The second paper presenter Chief Hon. Dr. Alex Ogbonna (the President Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu State) dwelled on the topic;“The Biafran Question and Restructuring: The Problem, Challenges and Prospects.” Here, as an authority in Igbo land and insider in Nigerian politics, he intimated the audience on the efforts and motions put in place to solve the political problems facing Nigeria. Dr Alex strongly maintained that restructuring is a practical way of resolving the tension of the Biafra struggles. For him, Biafra is an idea that lives in the minds of the South-East and South-South people of Nigeria and Biafran agitators not people who wage war on Nigeria. He reminded of the 1945 massacre in Kano where over two hundred Igbos were killed.
In his concluding speech, he rightly pointed out that violence and aggressive agitations cannotbe means of gainingBiafra’s independence, rather he held tightly to the restructuring of the nation’s political and economic make-up.
Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Okpalike, while responding to the papers, appreciated the efforts of the speakers for the time they made out to be present at the Convention. He lauded Mr. Donald Duke for his efforts to fight against poverty while he was the governor of Cross-River State especially through his improvement of the art and culture of the state, attracting not less than one million tourists in a year. This for him is an effective means of moving the nation to great heights. ‘Biafran struggle could be ended if the present government begins to consider the urgency of restructuring’, he said at last.
The Bigard Main Choir gave a sonorous interlude to lighten up the atmosphere. Thereafter members of the high table were led to the rostrum for theunveiling and launching of the 27th edition of the NACATHS Journal.
The National Moderator of NACATHS, Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Obasi gave a short vote of thanks, and with the closing prayerssaid by Rev. Fr. Osita Asogwa, all was set to rest till the next activity in the evening.
On the evening of Tuesday, Ss. Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodija, Oyo State, presented a paper on the theme: “The Aggressive Erosion of Traditional African Family Values and its Implication for Evangelization in Africa; Revisiting ‘Ecclesia in Africa’”. The paper stems from the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II. According to the paper, the idea that no culture exists in isolation and the application of inculturation have been used as an excuse to devalue and render extinct most of the African values which were highly held. As such, such values as sense of sacred, indispensability of family, love and respect for human life, belief in the existence of a spiritual bond and solidarity and community life were threatened. The paper finally established that the original African culture was a very good bedrock for evangelization and should not be totally annihilated in the bid to perform inculturation; rather, it should be augmented through inculturation so that bringing Christ fully into it, it can then complement Christian values
After the paper presentation, a delegate from Christ the King Seminary, Kafanchan, Kaduna State responded to the paper. Reactions from the audience were also entertained.
The event of Wednesday, 14th March, 2018, which was held at the Seminary auditorium at about 8:30am, saw another guest speaker and the first paper presenter for the day, Ozo Hon. Ferdinand Aniekwe, who spoke on the theme; “The Church in Africa and the Challenges of Culture”. Hon. Aniekwe opined that African culture on the whole has a major role to play in the development of faith among the Christians.
The second paper presentation on the theme; “Biblical Inerrancy and the Dangers of Improper Biblical Interpretations and Translations: Marking 500 Years of Protestant Revolt”was done by Mr. Adolphus Nwoye of Blessed Iwene Tansi Seminary, Onitsha, Anambra State. He divided his submission into four parts, and addressed the issue of divine inspiration of the Sacred Scripture, and the truth of this Sacred Scripture within the milieu of salvation history. The paper also dealt with the historical, ethical and social problems that challenge the truthfulness of the Scripture as the Word of God. Finally, the presenteroffered ways to avoid sceptism and fundamentalism which are the real dangers of improper biblical interpretation and translation.
In responding to the paper, Rev. Adasu of St Augustine Major Seminary, Makurdi, Benue State said that though the Catholic Church is not against private study of the Bible, it is however not supportive of the idea of Sola Scriptura. The interpretation of the bible should be communal and ecclesial, through the Holy Spirit who inspires us and reveals hidden meanings of the scripture to us even in our private study. The same Holy Spirit leads us to Christ, the head of his body, the Church.
The evening session of Wednesday 14th March 2018, which started at 4:00pm at the auditorium featured a paper presentation by a delegate from The Dominican Institute, Ibadan, Oyo State. In the paper titled “Communicating the Unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ to a Changing African Society: Problems, Effects and Prospects”the presenter held strongly that a preacher has as a duty to proclaim the gospel to all without excluding anyone. Christ should be made the centre of message of every catholic preacher.
Responding to the paper, Mr. Anthony Nduka of Spiritan School of Theology Attakwu, Enugu State pointed out an oversight made by the paper presenter; they failed to put the readers into perspective by not explaining some terms like “evangelization” and “unchanging Gospel of Jesus.” However, he commended the research work and recommended the work for publication in a journal.
On Thursday, 15th March, 2018, the morning activity which began at 8:30am in the auditorium featured the paper presentation by Rev. Evaristus Okeke of All Saints Major Seminary, Ekpoma, Edo State on the topic;“The Belief and Art of Witchcraft in Africa; A Challenge to the Christian Faith” He suggested that maximum attention should be given to the reality of witchcraft so as to unmask the spiritual insecurity that lies behind the attempts to arouse fear, its petty forms of control and shallow manipulations.
A delegate from St Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa-Ibom State in response to the paper, commended the thorough research done by the presenter, yet criticised the over-emphasis placed on the reality of witchcraft especially among Christians which as a result creates unnecessary fear and tension.
After the paper presentations, the 27th edition of the NACATHS Journal was launched by various individuals and seminaries present. Rev. Fr. Clement Obasi gave the vote of thanks and pointed out few errors as regards the debate that took place and congratulated the paper presenters, respondents and organizers.
Finally, he announced the results and honoured the institutions with an award of the best articles featured in the 27th NACATHS Journal.
The participants from the week’s event left on Friday morning, 16th March 2018 after the Holy Mass to their respective schools.

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