Future Search Conference: EVALUATION 25TH SEPT.-28TH SEPT. 2016

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awgu, His Lordship Most Rev. John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye kicked off the conference with a few opening remarks which centered on thanking all involved in the planning, and execution of the conference. This took place at about 10:00 am. He particularly thanked the visiting facilitators of the conference – Father Martin Lörsch and all the other organisers of the conference. The Bishop then led us in an opening prayer at exactly 10.08am.

The Bishop afterward handed over the microphone to the chief moderator, Fr. Donatus Ekwe who explained the rest of the program, and further introduced to the general body those who were to be co-facilitators of the conference and these include: Rev. Frs. Ohajuobodo Oko, Felix Eze, Darlington Eneh, Cornelius Nnakwe, and Zikodi Okwuosa. With these introductions concluded, all participants of the conference were called upon to introduce and familiarize themselves with each other. In continuation of this familiarization process, the participants were grouped into the different regions of the diocese to facilitate mutual knowledge and a sense of unity in the pursuance of a single goal. On the same process of familiarization there were further groupings according to various organs we have in the diocese i.e. CWO. CMO. CYON and the clergy as well as grouping according to duration of time spent in positions of leadership. With a now heightened sense of unity, affiliation and singularity of purpose, the participants were then grouped into two - those who were present at the first Future Search Conference (2010) and those who were not present. Questions were then thrown to former in order to elicit their impressions, experiences, fears, anxieties, hopes, in general, their overall and knowledge and reaction to the past conference. The contributions began on a positive note with expressions of the encouragement and sense of belonging created by the past conference. It was clear from the reactions that there was a general understanding of the necessity of the conference and the palpable positive fruits which were achieved. Although it was unequivocally stated that some of the proposed projects had not yet seen the light of day: for instance the rebuilding of the diocesan Cathedral. That notwithstanding, many other projects had been satisfactorily achieved; for instance, the project of developing the diocesan minor seminary - St Vincent De Paul Seminary, Agbogugu, as well as the building, though not yet completed of the Spiritual Year Seminary - Bishop Michael Ugwuja Eneja Spiritual Year Seminary, Oji. Other structural developments includes education of the youths and improvement of health infrastructure. Generally, this success story gives credibility and worth to the conference as well as speaks volumes to the credit of the organizers.

The latter group was then questioned on their general understanding of a Future Search conference, their impressions, possible avenues that would grant impetus to their positive contributions as well as their expectations, hopes and aspirations. In general, the contributors expressed great enthusiasm and optimism at the prospects of the conference. The very idea of being appointed to represent many others of the different parishes in such an important conference was seen as a great honour which is concomitantly laded with great responsibility. This was seen as enough impulse to take the conference seriously and put forward contributions.

With the questioning and feedback session concluded, a reading was taken from the gospel according to Luke, which was to serve as spiritual direction and ground to the entire conference, since at the foreground of all our efforts is the growth and development of the catholic community of faith: the local church in Awgu. Following the reading, was a chant of the chorus of the Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin. Mary and a subsequent spiritual reflection on the entire Magnificat by Fr. Raphael Egwu.

This was a reflection on our blessed Mother and her humble Fiat: her total obedient surrender to will of the Father. She glories in God's will. She praises God who, though unworthy of him revealed himself in the fullest possible way to her and to us. We in Awgu diocese have every cause to glorify God for weak, poor and lowly we may seem, his divine will has elected us and elevated us to be his children and part of his sacrament of salvation.

The Magnificat tells of God's holiness, his total otherness: He is God and no man. Man's understanding of greatness differs greatly from that of God. Greatness for God is not found in wealth and power and authority. Greatness is not found in one's personal achievement, greatness is found only on the grounds of God's election and ones disposition and humble self-abandonment to God's will and design. Only when we dispose ourselves to God to direct us in this search for a stable future, will God take the lead and exalt the humble.

God has chosen and called us and we have come on a mission of listening to and cooperating with God: readiness and willingness to do God's will, to sacrifice all that we cling onto so tightly and like our Blessed Mother, take up the spirit of the Magnificat - "My soul glorifies in the Lord my spirit rejoices in God my savior. He has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, henceforth all ages will call he blessed!

With a soul lifting conclusion by the singing of the entire Magnificent, all were thanked and subsequently ushered into the hall for continuation of the conference.


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