FR AUGUSTINE AKHOGBA NOW CO-ORDINATOR OF HUMAN LIFE AND FAMILY COMMISSION
By Staff Reporter
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr Donatus Ogun has graciously appointed Rev. Fr Dr Augustine Akhogba as Co-ordinator, Human Life and Family Commission, Uromi Diocese. Fr Akhogba takes over from Rev. Fr Christopher Ojeaga, who is currently on another pastoral assignment. His appointment took effect from August 27, 2015.
Rev. Fr Dr Akhogba was ordained by His Grace, Archbishop Patrick Ekpu, Archbishop Emeritus of Benin City on September 18, 2004. He has worked in a number of parishes in the former Archdiocese of Benin City, and as well Uromi Diocese as personal secretary of the former Bishop of Uromi Diocese, now Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City.
Rev. Fr Dr Akhogba studied Christian Social Ethics (Catholic Social Teaching) at the Philosophisch Theologische Hochschule Saukt Georgen, Frank fort-Germany, from where he obtained licentiate in 2011 and a doctorate degree in 2012.
He is presently the priest-in-charge of St Matthew Catholic Church and Administrator of St. Gabriel Special Education Centre, both in Ugbegun.
UROMI DIOCESE MARKS FAMILY WEEK …awards the Abebes for 70 years of Catholic Marriage
By Human Life and Family Unit
In line with the spirit of the Catholic Church as regards the celebration of the family life, the Catholic Diocese of Uromi celebrated Family Week in a grand style. The week long activity organized by the FAMILY AND HUMAN LIFE UNIT of the Diocese spanned from Monday, August 17, through Saturday August 22, 2015, at Mary the Queen Catholic Church, Ekpoma. The theme of this year’s Family Week was, LOVE IS OUR MISSION: THE FAMILY TRULY ALIVE
The event witnessed a series of lectures by renowned scholars, among whom were: Prof. Mrs E. Idialu, Prof. D.O. Aigbomian and Engr. Prof. S.O. Onohaebi. There were lectures bothering on social relationship in the family, the role of the Christian mother and wife in the family, the role of the Christian father and husband in the family, family catechesis, challenges associated with the family crises in Nigeria, health and a few others, delivered by specialists in these various fields. The peak of the weeklong event was on Saturday, August 22, 2015, when the entire diocese gathered at Mary the Queen Catholic Church, to take part in a Con-celebrated Mass presided over by the Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Donatus Ogun. The Mass began at 11am.
In his homily, His Lordship opened the eyes and hearts of all and sundry to the fact that divine vocations actually begins on the day a man and a woman come together as husband and wife according to the mind of God. He, therefore, admonished parents to see it as a divine mandate to begin to find out ways to correct the anomalies militating against the divine institution of a man and woman and their children called family. One of the solutions to these anomalies, the bishop suggested, is “for parents to begin again to give good Catholic education to their children, because if you train up a child the way he should grow, he will not depart from it” (cf. Proverbs 22:6).
The Bishop also used the opportunity to make a general prayer for all families facing challenges in the family lives, that God may assist them overcome these challenges to God’s glory. Furthermore, Bishop Ogun appreciated the efforts of the Family and Human Life Unit of the diocese headed by Rev. Fr Christopher Ojeaga, for the initiative to bring about event of this nature for the good of the Diocese, the entire Church and world at large, and encouraged them to organize more of such events in the Diocese to enlighten families on good Christian living in order to arrest the ugly trend of moral decay in the society, since the family is the smallest unit of the society. He also admonished the unit to introduce Family and Human Life Units in parish life also. Many of such events are needed because the family life is in crises. This, according to the Bishop is the warning of Pope Francis. His Lordship said that whenever family crises is mentioned, we should not be looking to the Western or developed world alone and feel unconcerned about our home here in Nigeria. Even though we have our own unique family crises in Nigeria, we should also worry about the crises in other places because “when a neighbour’s house is on fire, it will get to you if you do not help to put it out”.
Finally, the Bishop admonished parents to spend more time with their children in loving care instead of leaving them to nannies, they should ensure that they all take part in the same Mass and sit on the same pew.
A highpoint of the celebration was the conferment of an award of excellence on Dr. and Mrs Christopher Ebhodaghe Abebe for having lived and still living the married life for 70 years; a feat which the bishop advised should be an inspiration for others to follow. In the course of the honour, Dr Abebe delivered a speech on the secret of the success of their marriage life. Below is the full speech:
ADDRESS BY DR. CHRISTOPHER E. ABEBE AT THE 2015 DIOCESIAN FAMILY WEEK CELEBRATIONS IN MARY THE QUEEN CATHOLIC CHURCH, EKPOMA ON SATURDAY AUGUST 22
It is a pleasure to receive from the Family and Human Life Unit, Uromi Diocese an invitation to participate in this year’s Family Week Celebrations and in particular that my family has been selected for an award as one of the few Catholic families with a long history of family life in the hope that this can provide some evidence of long and consistent practice of Catholic faith. I apologize for the absence of my wife for age related illness which took her to Lagos this week. I am not sure that I have much to say on this occasion. However, it is with pleasure and humility to hereby record my family history and lifestyle.
I first met my wife, Theresa, in 1943 as a young girl. I had been a Catholic since my primary school days. Up to the time we met, Theresa had attended an Anglican school. A few months after we met, I caused her to go into a Catholic school under the guidance of a French Priest, Rev. Fr Burr. Fr. Burr had decided not to baptize her until we married in 1945. All our seven children were subsequently baptized one after the other as they were born. All the children attended Catholic schools: the girls-Saint Theresa College, Ibadan, and the boys St. Gregory College, Lagos. The children took part in school activities. We were fortunate to live close to their primary schools and they enjoyed boarding facilities in secondary schools which helped them to participate in most religious events. We made sure that while at school the children attended Church services regularly. In all such matters and in things that will help their development, my wife and I cooperated. We took lovely interest in things that may affect their lives with the support of their teachers.
We were always in the front line in organizing various activities in the church; took part in prayer meeting, retreats, excursions and in the execution of development projects. We find common interest in these things, enabling us to sustain our closeness by frequently talking about issues that concern the Church and our family. As the children grew older they were and still are increasingly brought into our discussions which enabled us to learn about their affairs and problems. Catholic families can enhance their faith more by the parents taking a lively interest in training and educating their children as well as by seeking the help of and interacting with catholic priests and the Religious. Our financial contributions and support to the Catholic Church are mostly a joint effort.
In the early years of our marriage we had our individual ambitions. We supported each other always, willing to make any sacrifice for the benefit of the family. If either of us was reluctant to accept responsibility, the other was always ready to provide the needed encouragement so that the end result became a joint effort. Sharing common interests stimulates love and affection. With us, such close contacts include interaction with the children, praying together, encouraging each other to go to confession regularly, going out together and ensuring that in all things there is unity of purpose. Our guiding principle is not allowing other family members and third parties to interfere in our affairs. We have been very lucky with God’s kindness but not allowed our achievements to get into our heads.
Sincerely, we have had our share of pain and stress by the untimely death of five of our children. The loss of five successful children in a family of seven was enough to cause pain and stress to the extent of shaking one’s faith but our Christian background enabled us to make deliberate effort to keep closer to God, to our priests by prayers and reading selected religious books for inspiration and strength.
We think that frequent attendance at confessions with the inspiring priestly advice and with regular attendance at mass are desired weapons for building a strong and true Catholic faith Finally, we have received many honours in the past, but this being the first directly related to our marital life by your organization is, in the words of our great Zik of Africa “ a magnanimous act of magnanimity” by you for which we immensely thank you.
Dr. C.E. Abebe