The Church has been urged to commence the cannonisation of people killed by Boko Haram and bandits as the blood of Martyrs is the seed of the Church, and persecution, which is a form of violence has been a paradoxical instrument for the spread of the faith. The charge was given in resolutions reached at the fifth National Mission Congress (NAMICON V) of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, with the theme, “Fear not for I am with you”, held at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri, Imo State.
The paper jointly signed by Rev. Fr. Joseph Tile Nomhwange, SMA, National Director, Mission and Dialogue and Rev. Fr. Solomon Patrick Zaku, National Director, PMS recommended that the Church re-strategise on strengthening her members in the face of persecution. According to the priests, insecurity is a huge challenge to the Church and has hindered missionary work, and dampened pastoral zeal and enthusiasm, which is obvious in the inability of people to gather in their numbers for religious activities like crusades, camping, retreats, among others.
On missionary activity, the congress called the people to authentic witnessing, adding that God is a missionary God as is obvious in the Trinitarian dimension of mission, demonstrated by God sending his Son to redeem the human race, and the Father and Son sending the Holy Spirit to lead everyone to the fullness of truth. On the Church’s mission and communication strategies in troubled times: lessons in COVID-19 experiences, they recommended that the Church should leverage online platforms, social media, email newsletters and video conferences, which will help bridge physical distances and also offer spiritual support.
The congress noted that collaborating with other churches, community organisations and government entities would go a long way towards meeting the needs of vulnerable population, and also promote collective resilience, adding that the Church should reposition herself in the face of unpredictable crises by getting a Crisis Communication Plan (CCP). On Digital mission as a contemporary approach to evangelisation in the face of media toxicity, the paper read: “The great command ‘to go into the whole world and make disciples of all nations’ is one that necessarily entails communication. As such, the Church cannot exist without communicating. Communication remains a matter of great concern to the Church, especially in this era of media revolution and digital technology.
However, the World Wide Web (www) is a huge space and a wider audience that the Church in Nigeria has yet to fully explore.” Among other things, the congress recommended that communication must be a key element, included in all pastoral plans of the Church, the annual Communications Week initiative of the CBCN coordinated by the Catholic Secretariat Communications Directorate be taken serious and given adequate support. Stating that young people are an integral part of the social, economic, political and spiritual dimensions of every nation, the congress noted that the youths’ participation is critical to the actualisation, effectiveness and continuity of mission and the propagation of the reign of Christ in human communities. According to the organisers, the congress aims to inculcate in every Christian, their missionary responsibilities as baptised persons, despite the challenges thereof, do a stock-taking of how they have fared as a Church since the last Congress, and an avenue for collective prayers as a Church.