By Regina Igwebuike

Neni (Anaocha LGA), March 16, 2022 (MOI) Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor has urged the laity to remain true salt of the earth and light of the world especially, now that the society is bedevilled with challenges.

Ezeokafor made the call during the flag-off of the 2022 laity week with the theme: “Resilience in witnessing for Christ Amid Socio-Economic and Security Challenges’, at St. John’s Catholic Church, Neni on March 13.

He noted that righteousness exalted the nation, urging all to eschew vices that could lead to destruction as heavenly pilgrims.

The prelate decried the spate of neo-paganism, urging parents, especially mothers to take proper care of their children as a domestic church, emphasising that if they failed to catch them young, they would become a nuisance to the society.

He explained that the laity was called in their own ways to contribute to the evangelisation and sanctification of the world, therefore should not allow materialistic seduction and hopeless situations of poverty to rob them of their consciences and moral strength.

Ezeokafor, then, thanked the leadership of the council, the organisers of the event even as he thanked Sen. Victor Umeh for sponsoring the event.

Rev. Fr. Cosmas Ifeanyichukwu Ibeh in his keynote paper on “Permeating the Temporal Order with the Spirit of the Gospel’’, said that the Church believed that the light of Christ would be more readily and forcefully permeate the circumstances of the world through the laity.

“The laity are given the ability and responsibility to accept the gospel in faith and to proclaim it in word and deed without hesitating to courageously identify and denounce evil.’’

Fr. Ibeh noted that family, social work and politics were the three areas that posed serious challenges to the lay faithful.

According to him, the family remains the oldest institution in society, the most basic unit of social organisation and the primary agent of socialisation.

He noted with dismay that the family as a unit of the church and the primary cell of the society was under threat, resulting in many families not upholding the teachings of the church.

On social work, the cleric said that the transformation of the temporal order includes the socio-economic activities, which must be animated by the Christian spirit.

He said that the current global economic crises caused many lay faithful to face challenges unparalleled in previous generations, advocating the practice of charitable acts by the laity to the needy.

Speaking on politics, Fr. Ibeh urged the laity to engage in party politics otherwise they would become irrelevant in society.

He emphasised that to accomplish the redemption mission of the church in the area of social justice, development and peace, a person with integrity and wisdom, dedicated to serving God and mankind should be voted in to devote himself for service.

The Chancellor Awka Diocese, Rev. Fr. Francis Chidume in a homily urged the laity to always have faith in God, professing what they believe with conviction in of spite all odds.

He urged all not to be enemies of the Cross and to be consistent in doing good.

Chidume, then, enjoined all to heed the clarion call for Anambra Catholic Bishops for fervent prayers and fasting to seek God’s intervention and save the South East from looming danger.

Sen. Victor Umeh said that laity was the bedrock of the church, permeating the temporal order with Christian principles.

He noted that the Governor-Elect, Prof. Charles Soludo would be sworn in on March 17, calling on all to join hands in supporting his administration.

Umeh explained that Soludo emerged at the time there was security breakdown and other challenges in the state and beyond, urging all to support him with prayers to enable him to achieve his vision and mission for the state.

The Chairman of the occasion, Mr Ejike Okechukwu, Member representing Anaocha II Constituency in the Anambra House of Assembly urged the laity to be attentive to the teachings of the church.

The Laity Chief Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Jude Ezeanokwasa while thanking the Bishop for his fatherly support to the council, thanked the deanery and parish chaplains and commended Sen. Umeh for holding the bull by the horns.

Earlier in a welcome address, Mr Joseph Igwebuike, President Laity Council Awka Diocese said that the theme for 2022 laity week was apt.

He emphasized that the value they hoped to restore should start from them, explaining that the laity must get involved in normalising the political atmosphere of the state and nation by practising true democracy at all levels.

Other dignitaries at the occasion include Igwe Christopher Okpala of Akwaeze, Prof. Josephat Ogbuagu, Chairman Council of Patrons, Mr Dozie Nwankwo representing Njikoka, Dunukofia, Anaocha Federal Constituency represented by Mr Okey Nwude.

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