Lagos, Nigeria: November 12–15, 2019. The Theological Institute for Consecrated Life in Africa ((TICLA) organised the 3rd successful International Conference on Collaborative Ministry in Mission: A Socio-Pastoral Approach. Among numerous participants were priests, religious and laity at the EHJ’s Fidei Domus Retreat Center, Ikeja, Lagos. The vision and mission of TICLA have always been to deepen our charism as consecrated men and women and to give theological foundations to our life and vocation vis-à-vis the socio-cultural and ecclesial realities in Africa.
This year’s theme aims at reappraising the working relationship among the clergy, religious and laity in the mission of Christ. These three groups are all stakeholders in this mission of God, and, how effective this is carried out is the main concern to the conference.
Four major papers were presented along with many goodwill messages. Rt Rev Msgr John Aniagwu, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lagos, one of the speakers, was clear in his message on “The Clergy, Consecrated Persons, Laity in the Mission of Uplifting the Sanctity and Dignity of the Family” that they ought to be well formed beginning from the seminary and catechesis for the laity. When this is achieved, the meaning and essence of sanctity will be realized in the families, which he said is the bedrock of forming a people of God.
The second paper was on “Review of Christus Vivit in the Collaborative Mission of the Church” by Fr. Peter Okonkwo, the Director of TICLA. He gave a very good exposé on the law on abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the mission as they relate to the Nigerian legal system. It is a clarion call, he said, which educators, administrators and employers must never ignore in our times.
Fr. Julius Olaitan, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Victoria Island, Lagos was apt in his discourse on the “Laity as an Indispensable Partners in the Evangelisation Mission of the Church“. He succinctly explained that for an effective collaboration to take place between the clergy and laity in the Church, there must be a symbiosis of the two categories at each levels. We have to drop clericalism on the part of the clergy and passivism on the part of the laity. All should work in the mission of the Church and not be antagonistic to the each other’s rich charism.
Prof Pat Utomi, the CEO of Center for Values and Leadership, Victoria Island, Lagos spoke to the Conference on “The Future of the Youths in the Collaborative Mission of the Church“. He proposes that there should be proper formation of the young people who will in turn form other young people who will bring greater influence in the Church. He acknowledged the depravity of the society and as such, has influenced the young people negatively ranging from drug addiction, unemployment, disaffection, negative use of media, materialism to political thuggery etc. The youths therefore depend on the adults to know and grow. This fact can be found at the dependent, independent and interdependent levels. He calls for a proper knowledge of the unchanging changer – Jesus Christ, so that the youths can engage in Christ as the epicenter of every day experience or context and, more so, through the social media that can impact on culture with rapidity and efficacy. Entrepreneurship is key too if we must engage our youths to grow. We need to understand their language to be able to co-evangelize with them.
The conference had further discussions through group workshops. We shall publish the Communique as soon as the document becomes available.
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