The year 2020 marked the centenary anniversary of Christian Mothers in Nigeria. More than two hundred Catholic women from the fifteen Deaneries of the Archdiocese of Lagos gathered at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos, on Sunday, October 18, 2020 to experience the grand climax of the three-day centenary celebration in the Archdiocese. The ostentatious event commenced with Holy Mass at the Marian Shrine which witnessed the prophetic homily of Most. Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.
At this Mass, the Archbishop cautioned government to desist from using soldiers to quell the #EndSARS protests. Defiance of this counsel from the pulpit saw scores of Nigerians killed and many injured barely two days later when purported soldiers opened fire at unarmed protesters singing their country’s national anthem and waving the national flag. Since this black Tuesday’s barbaric incident, the Nigerian government has been under the radar of both country’s statesmen and World leaders over the shooting of #EndSARS protesters, with Nigeria occupying the global media space on cold-hearted grounds. But Most. Rev. Dr. Martins’ call for dialogue with the youth leaders and advice to government to pay attention and take concrete measurable steps to meet their demands was at the latter part of the homily delivery.
Firstly, he admonished the Christian Mothers to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary in Her journey with Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, commit their challenges and difficulties to the hands of God in total surrender and renew their devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary, our Blessed Mother. “Bear with courage in whatever challenges you have go through in your vocation as wives and mothers. Like Blessed Virgin Mary, commit your challenges and difficulties to the hands of God in total surrender. “What Mary did was to surrender her life and everything that could come her way into the hands of God. She said: “let it be done to me according to your will.” That was her promise to God when she began her journey of going with the Lord Jesus,” he stressed. Archbishop Martins said: “I’m sure that as wives and mothers, you also can count the number of troubles that you are going through, I’m sure that you can count your anxieties, your anxieties over your children, your concerns about their future, your concern about their schooling.
“I’m sure that you are worried about their concerns, you are worried about their growth in faith in these days when there are so many people, so many things leading people away from the practice of the faith; you must be concerned. “You must be concerned about their behaviour, you must be concerned about the job opportunities that they have or shall I say lack of job opportunities that is much with us today. You are worried about their safety as they journey from one place to another. “Thanks be to God, the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has been banded, I am sure that many of your children, many of our children have suffered from police brutality, they have suffered from the wickedness of the SARS operatives over time , and so in all of these worries and challenges, I ask you that you take up all that needs with courage and with total surrender to God knowing fully well that He is in total control and nothing will get out of hand.
” “Talking about their security now that there is ongoing protest to end police brutality; I’m sure that as they are matching around, you are also worried about their safety. “ You are worried about their safety and all that is happening around at this time, we pray that all the worries and all the anxieties will turn to joy, we pray that each of you will rejoice over your children, you will rejoice over your husbands, and you will rejoice over everything the Lord has placed in your palms through Christ our Lord,” he prayed. The Chief Shepherd urged the women to continue praying that the ongoing protest in the country will end up turning things around for good. Speaking further, he called on the government to follow the path of dialogue with the leaders of the young people who are protesting.
Affirming that the government has recognized that the protesters have good reasons for protesting and adequate reasons for their dissatisfaction and anger, he proffered, “solution is to listen.” Most. Rev. Martins implored the government to: “Pay attention to the demands of these young ones and then to take concrete measurable steps in order to meet the demands. “You all can see that their protests is out of love for our country and out of their desire that their future will be secured. So all citizens deserve to be respected, all citizens deserve to be protected, all citizens deserve to be provided for. It is therefore necessary to continue to ask that our government would ensure and reassure the young and the whole country, that there is a will to change things for better.
” The Lagos Metropolitan Archbishop expressed his concern on what will be the likely lethal outcome if the military is engaged to forcefully stop the protesters. “Let us also continue to appeal and pray for government to resist the temptation of using the military to break the ongoing protest, to bring in the military can only lead to injuries, can only lead to death and escalation to the protests. “Let us pray and let us continue to ask that this would not be a path that is chosen but rather a path of dialogue that things maybe be well with us all.” Archbishop Martins on the other hand called on parents and the youths to go about their protests peacefully and not allow themselves to be led into any act of violence.
“We also continue to ask our youths and our parents to continue to tell them that they must ensure that they do not engage in any act of violence,” he appealed. The Archbishop went on to remind the lay faithful that every third Sunday of October of every year is called Mission Sunday, a day set aside by the Church for all Catholics all over the world to do a number of things. “This day is set aside because it is called World mission Sunday and I’m sure we all know, if there’s anybody who doesn’t know, please know now that the third Sunday of October every year is World Mission Sunday. “And this year 2020, we celebrate the 94th version of World Mission Sunday, for 94 years World Mission Sunday has been celebrated and we must to do a number of things, first of all to be aware of the missionary mandate that Jesus gave to His Church as well as renew awareness to that missionary mandate which God gave to those His church.” He quoted the Gospel according to Mark Chapter 16, Verse 15, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature” , that is the mandate. So we are aware that what is given to Church is given to us individually.
“Please be aware and make personal commitment in this day that you will do something new to bring people to the knowledge of Christ. “Thirdly on this day we are called upon to pray, to pray that the good news will spread and reach the ends of the earth as Jesus willed it. “Fourthly, we are called to also support evangelization efforts in our church. Missionary works do not go just by people go. People go, yes, but they need to be supported in carrying out that good news, so we are called to support the missionary effort of the Church. That is why today all over the world there is a special collection that is made for missionary activities of the Church or evangelization.” While clearing the doubt on the points he earlier mentioned, he said: “Dear friends, my dear brothers and sisters, maybe there is somebody here who will be asking me” why am I supposed to do these four things that I have just mentioned? “ “Firstly, awareness of the missionary mandate of the Church; secondly, the personal commitment to that mandate; thirdly, praying for the missionary work; and fourthly, making financial contribution to missionary work.” He continued: “Somebody maybe asking, am I supposed to all these?
The reason my dear friends in Christ, God chose you, God chose you personally, individually; when you are baptized, He chose you personally and they commissioned you and commissioned me as priest, as religious, as wives, as mothers, as widows, widowers, single persons, he called us individually to partner with him in recreating the world, bringing all to the knowledge of Christ. “Permit me, there is a story that I once read, it is a story about Jesus after His ascension to heaven. Thirty- three years, He worked; for all those years He preached and healed people, in the end He died on the cross, He rose again from the dead, after forty days He ascended to heaven. So when He got to heaven, all heaven was rejoicing that Jesus is back again. “And there were so much welcome that was being offered to Jesus on His return back to heaven. As the ceremony was going on, Angel Gabriel who came to announce to His mother the conception and the birth was a bit worried and so he went to Jesus and said “ look You have done so much, You went into the world You didn’t have to go, You suffered all that You suffered, You died, You rose again, now You are back here, have You made any plans to ensure all that You did is not forgotten by the people, what plans have You put in place that people will know what You did, and they will love You for what You did, that they will commit themselves to You as Your disciples and they will live as You are, what plans did You make?.
“And so Jesus said, well as I have told my Apostles, that they should tell other people and other people should tell other people and ensure that the news goes round the whole world, and Angel Gabriel said well, okay that’s right,” he concluded “This is my question and I’m sure that each one us will be asking it in their hearts. Please answer it in your heart at least. Will you refuse to do that if God depends upon you to make things happen? “At the time that of His dead only few people knew about Christ, and out of the few people that knew not all actually accepted Him and yet He depends on us to spread the good news about Him, shall we refuse the good news of Jesus, this is a challenge for each of us. “Remember my dear friends, every year that there is a Mission Sunday, the Holy Father always sends a message. “The message that he sent this year, indicates that “ Behold I send you out to bring the good news to the ends of the earth.” “In fact the theme is: “ Here I am, send me, (Isaiah 6:8)”. “Each of us should say, here I am send me” as a personal commitment to do that which Jesus has asked us to do but which
is dependent upon us,” he concluded. After the Mass, the women treated themselves to a good reception at the Mc Govern Hall within the Church’s premises. Delivering her remarks, the President of the Lagos Archdiocesan Confraternity of Christian Mothers, Mother Julie Aneke noted that the National body of Confraternity of Christian Mothers (CCM) under the leadership of the incumbent President, Prof. Chioma Asuzu , two weeks ago marked the centenary anniversary at the ancient and historic city of Ibadan in which representatives of the body from all over the country were present for the two days event. According to her the occasion was indeed well organized and very successful. Congratulating the National Executives and commending the Centenary Committee for an event well implemented, she declared that the occasion was a memorable one and described the essence of the event in the Lagos Archdiocese.
“We are here in Lagos to celebrate the centenary anniversary in order to complement the effort of the National body as well as to enable our large number of members witness and partake in this historic occasion, since several major activities of CCM have always been in Lagos not just because it’s labelled the Centre of Excellence but on the account that it served as the Federal capital of Nigeria after about 100 years.” Aneke further stated that the history of CCM in Nigeria in the last 100 years has witnessed profound growth since 1920 when according to available records and credible oral accounts, it was introduced by the Capuchin Rev. Fr. Murphy in Bende in colonial Nigeria; a town currently located in today’s Abia State. “Successive Church authorities have encouraged and supported its establishment in neighboring towns as well as other cities and towns in North and South of Nigeria.
“Here in Lagos in the early 40s and 50s, it was introduced in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Lafiaji and Holy Cross Cathedral Parish respectively. In 1960 when Nigeria became an independent and sovereign State, CCM was set up in the Catholic Church of the Assumption, Falomo under the leadership of Chief (Mrs.) Margaret Edet, wife of the first indigenous Inspector General of Police, Sir. Louis Edet of (Blessed Memory) Relating the two key developments that reinforced the status of CCM in Lagos and also nationwide, she recurred, “The first was in 1984 when LACCM was inaugurated as the apex body and the second was in 1987 when the National organ was put in place to co-ordinate its activities nationwide. Continuing, she added, “It is important to point out that Omoba Pricilla Kuye served as pioneer President of both organs at their inception and her tireless effort and vision combined with the support of extraordinary efficient team were fully embedded by successive Presidents.
“We commend the effort of Dame Okonkwo who coordinated all the Parishes. These qualities enabled the growth and performance of our pious society through prayers in all undertakings for the ultimate benefits of our faith in the service of the community and Church as well as our worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. She extended her appreciation to the Archbishop Emeritus and Archbishop. “We recall with great joy that during his Eminence Anthony Cardinal Olubumi Okogie’s episcopate and Cardinalate, his profound exhortations generated vibrant faith, strong sense of hope and great enthusiasm which spurred us into greater heights in all our undertakings. The same unlimited support and encouragement have continued under His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos. We thank you your Grace.” The Archbishop also wished the CCM giant strides in the years ahead.