Catholics have been urged to deepen their commitment to the Church, as well as take active part in building a society in which the people can live in peace and unity. The charge was given by His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in his presentation at the 2023 convention of Lagos Archdiocese Catholic Men Organisation of Nigeria (LACMON), with the theme, “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you’’, held last weekend at St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos. Cardinal Onaiyekan called on the people to find a way of linking up with other men and women of goodwill who are ready to see that the Nigerian nation emerges with the destiny of greatness that God has endowed it with.
On the gift of God, which he said is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that enables people to know Christ and what he means in their lives, the Cardinal urged that the faith needs to be fanned into flame so that the gift does not die. The prelate said faith in God Almighty should also spill over into people’s moral ethical values so that they cannot forget that whether they are Christians, Muslims or adherents of the African Traditional Religions (ATR), they have some common values as far as moral life is concerned. He said: “Among these are for example; to be truthful, not to cheat, to avoid corruption, even to be kind to one another and to have a sense of sympathy to those who are in need. “
These are common elements of moral and ethical values of our people. In our nation, where religion has been turned into a weapon for attacking and killing one another, it is important to acknowledge that in fact, religion has a potential that should be used to give us a common mind, that we can find unity of conviction in tackling the major problems of our nation. “It is often said that in our country, we are very religious. But if this being religious is not to become a liability, we must recover a strong conviction about those values which we have in common. When we do, then our being religious becomes a great asset for the development, peace and prosperity of our nation.”
He said as sacrament, the Church is an instrument of salvation that must be actively involved in bringing about the kingdom of God., adding that this is the motivation for the people getting involved in politics or making sure that whatever they are doing, they continue to work for God’s kingdom of justice, love and peace. Also speaking on the occasion, Barr. Vincent Otiono, President, LACMON, expressed his joy as the organisation holds its 10th annual convention, a journey he saidstarted with humble beginnings at St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja in 2012.
“Of a truth, if the Lord had not been with us, we would have been consumed. Therefore, all I want to say is thank you Jesus”, he said. Recounting some of the achievements accomplished by the organisation after the previous year’s meeting, Otiono said this year, having fulfilled their roles as fathers and pillars of the Church, the men are admonished to work on and develop their spiritual life by fanning into flame the gift of God in them so that they will not lose the zeal to serve God.