By Johnpaul Nwotsa
The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Holy Childhood, Abakaliki Diocese on Saturday, June 1, 2019 organised Diocesan Singing Competition to mark an extraordinary Mission Month to celebrate the 100th anniversary or centenary
This was in line with the directive of His Holiness Pope Francis who declared the month of October this year as the month of the propagation of faith throughout the world.
The directive was contained in the Apostolic letter called Maximum Illud, a letter earlier written in 1919 by Pope Benedict XV.
The competition which took place at St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral Abakaliki, Ebonyi State commenced with a Holy Mass by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Nnachi Okoro, ably represented by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Alphonsus O. Iwueke the Cathedral Administrator.
In his Homily, Msgr. Iwueke stated that as the mother church observe the feast of Saint Justin the Martyr, the patron of Philosophers, to inspire us to use our natural powers, especially our power to know and understand in the service of Christ and build up the Christian life within us.
For this reason, he enjoined everyone to be willing to correct and check his natural thinking in the light of Religious truth.
He noted that in doing this every Catholic faithful would be able to serve God in Holiness and Truth for God is a Divine being.
Msgr. Iwueke noted that the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) was born as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth.
Msgr Iwueke further stated that the prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives.
He made the Holy Childhood to understand that the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) have become an institution of the universal church and of every particular church.
Msgr. Iwueke stated that the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) constitute a single institution which includes, four district branches, which in common have the main purpose of promoting the missionary and universal spirit within the people of God; through the dissemination of information on missions, the promotion of missionary vocations, their works and the young churches and encouraging communion with the other churches for the exchange of goods, aid and personnel.
He noted that among the characteristics that distinguish the PMS from other organisms of missionary cooperation, is first of all their universality, as they are the pontifical societies of the Pope and depend on the congregation for the evangelization of peoples.
According to Msgr. Iwueke, PMS at the same time are also the Bishops’ societies, expressing their universality in the animation and missionary formation addressed to all the churches and to all the members of the people of God, in the assistance offered equally to all their churches in Mission territories.
He stated that their primary purpose is evangelization, a fundamental duty of the church, not neglecting the concrete participation in integral human promotion.
Msgr. Iwueke therefore appealed to PMS of the Holy Childhood, Abakaliki Diocese to endeavour to spread the Gospel of Christ while on earth, and at the end reap the good fruit they may have sown.
After the Holy Mass, the singing competition took off, the parishes that participated and in attendance are seven in number which include: Our Lady of Lourdes Chaplaincy, Mile 4; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Okpaugwu; St. Enda’s Parish, Umuoghara; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Iboko, St. Paul’s Parish, Onuebonyi; St. Patrick’s Parish, Kpiri-kpiri Abakaliki and Sacred Heart Parish, Onueke.
After the singing competition St Paul’s Parish Onuebonyi emerged the first position with 92.3 points, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Okpaugwu took the second position with 68.7 points while Sacred Heart Parish, Onueke took the 3rd position with 55.3 points
Speaking with Citizens’ Advocate, Rev. Fr. Charles Nnachi, the Parish Priest of St. Enda’s Parish Umuoghara and Diocesan Director, Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of the Holy Childhood Abakaliki Diocese, in a special way commended the effort of Bishop Okoro who has been supporting the PMS in the diocese, financially, morally and other wise.
Fr. Nnachi described Bishop Okoro as a loving and caring father who always attended to their needs whenever it arises.
He commended Msgr Iwueke for making (PMS) Abakaliki Diocese feel at home.
He appreciated the parishes that were able to make it and complained bitterly as most parishes in the diocese failed to attend.
He therefore charged parents, guardians to always allow their children to participate in the activities of PMS in their various parishes because the spreading of the gospel is not made only for the ordained.
Fr. Nnachi in a special way appealed to priests to make sure that PMS is functional in their parishes because the children are willing but some parishes where PMS is already established lack cooperation of co-ordiantors.
He commended St. Paul’s Parish Onuebonyi, who took the first position and stated that the parish will now go to provincial level which will be at Enugu on Saturday, June 8, 2019 to represent Abakaliki Diocese for the celebration of 100 years of PMS.
In a similar way, Mr Nworie Blessed William and Mrs Mmadubuike Virginia expressed their joy, as their parish emerged the first position and thanked Bishop Okoro, Fr Charles Nnachi, and judges of the competition for adjudging them the best.
They equally thanked their parish priest, Rev. Fr. Daniel Agara who motivated them to come back with the first position or else they remain at St. Theresa or face any punishment but thanked God that they were able to emerge victorious.
The event featured presentation of certificates of participation and trophies to the victorious parishes.