This report by Fr. Godwyn Abbah C.Ss.R. brings further details of the important event for Redemptorists of Nigeria – the Vice-Province Chapter. An earlier account, by Br. Dan Hall, appeared on our website last week.
The Vice-Province had its last Chapter in 2017. Since then, a lot has happened both within the unit and in the Conference of Africa and Madagascar (COREAM).
The Assembly/Chapter had been postponed twice due to varying factors ranging from the disruptions occasioned by covid19 to other covid related reasons like space for the meetings to allow for observance of social distancing. With that consideration also came the weather factor; to choose a time with a lesser likelihood of rainfall. The celebration lasted four days (October 25th – 29th, 2021). Almost all the confreres in the unit were present. Confreres from sister units in COREAM (Conference of Redemptorists of Africa and Madagascar) and our lay collaborators were also present.
The ceremony began with the arrival of the confreres on the evening of Monday 25th October. Tuesday 26th October 2021 was the first working day of the celebration. It started with a half-day retreat anchored by the Consultor General for COREAM, Fr. Nicholas Ayouba. During his retreat talk, which was streamed live on Facebook, Fr. Ayouba drew the Assembly’s attention to a deepening of our individual and collective relationship with the person of the Redeemer. Citing the constitutions and statutes he encouraged all present to be the effigy, revelator and the glory of Christ, just as Christ is the effigy, revelator and glory of the Father. The retreat came to an end with the celebration of the Eucharist at mid-day.
From Tuesday afternoon to Thursday evening, the Assembly discussed several matters and reports from different apostolates of the Vice-Province were given.
On the second day of the Assembly, the Archbishop of Ibadan, Archbishop Gabriel Leke Abegurin, came to pay a courtesy visit to the Assembly. After a warm welcome from the confreres, who were delighted to see him, he expressed his appreciation for the work that the Congregation is doing in his archdiocese. He went on to encourage the Assembly not to be afraid of adversities and difficulties on the mission.
Besides the discussion of Vice Provincial matters, the Assembly was a significant moment in our collaboration with the lay. For the first time, a lay person attended both the Assembly and the Chapter of the Vice-Province. The Vice-Province also welcomed the four new Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer. Though they had been formally accepted in a celebration at Liguori House a few months ago, the Assembly was an opportunity for them to meet with the full family of our unit.
Towards the end of our days together, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubueze, also stopped by to pay a courtesy visit to the Assembly. He was hosted to joyful singing and energetic dancing of the students at Redeemer house.
Brother Dan Hall’s presence was not only in the official capacity as the delegate from Denver but also as a dearly loved and respected confrere. It was a homecoming for him and a heartwarming reunion for the confreres who knew him when he worked in Nigeria. The whole area where the assembly/chapter was held was brought to its present shape largely by his creativity and sacrifices. As a younger Redemptorist, he worked tirelessly in these parts. He expressed his joy in a hearty speech at the end of the Chapter and was greeted with loud cheers and chanting of his nickname “Chief! Chief! Chief!”
At the end of the celebration, confreres had the opportunity to relax at a party to properly greet each other since most confreres had not seen each other since the beginning of the pandemic. It was a healing experience for us as a unit. We look to a new horizon with hope and enthusiasm for the future. God be praised!
Special thanks to all our guests who came for the celebration:
- Fr. Nicholas Ayouba, C.Ss.R. – Consultor General for COREAM
- Br. Dan Hall, C.Ss.R. – Delegate of Denver
- Fr. Noel Sottima, C.Ss.R. – COREAM Co-ordinator
- Fr. Christian Klu, C.Ss.R. – Superior of the Ghana Mission
- Lady Judith Agu, LMMHR – Chair, Shared Mission of Nigeria and COREAM
Fr. Godwin Abbah, C.Ss.R.