By Paul Ovoke

It is customary for the Diocese of Ìjẹ̀bú-Òde to gather at the beginning of the year to celebrate the opening Mass committing the entire pastoral life of the Diocese into the divine providence. On this note, the Opening Mass for the 2023 pastoral year of Ìjẹ̀bú-Òde Diocese took place at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Ikoto, on Friday 13th of January, 2023. The Mass which started around 10:00am was celebrated by the Bishop of the Diocese; Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina and concelebrated by over 70 Priests working in the Diocese. Multitude of Religious and Laity were in attendance.

In his homily themed: Moving forward in faith and action (Ìtẹ̀síwájú nínú ìgbàgbọ́ àti ìṣe) taken from Exodus 14:15, Rev. Fr. Peter Ayanbadejo sang a special song “ọ̀nà ọpẹ mi ópọ̀, ópọ̀ jọjọ” as he wished the Bishop and all present a prosperous new year. According to him, “the Diocese has recorded series of progress under the pastoral leadership of the Bishop, the Diocese has moved from New evangelization to further evangelization”. He concluded by saying our faith has no meaning unless there are works to accompany it.

At the appropriate time, 140 Small Christian Community animators knelt down for prayers as the Bishop, assisted by some of the Priests, presented the animators with crosses as a sign of their mandate.

The Vicar for Pastoral Affairs, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Balogun presented 3 pastoral documents; Diocesan pastoral plan, the Parish handover format and Policy on funerals in Ìjẹ̀bú Òde Diocese. He encourages all pastors and members of Parish Councils to study and ensure that the documents are very well utilized in their various parishes.

The Bishop in his remarks says “There’s no better place to gather for this Holy Mass as we are the body of Christ. What better way to celebrate the opening Mass than to celebrate it in the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) Parish”.

The Bishop continues, “we’re called to Pastoral fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit. Since in vain is our labour if the Lord doesn’t build a house. Without Christ breathing on our activities this year, we can achieve nothing. Without the Holy Spirit, we qualify as social worker or ecclesiastical jobbers. We cannot be empty actors, entertainers or busy bodies in the work of Christ.” The Bishop encourages all not to look back like Lot’s wife did but to keep moving forward. He noted that it is for the renewal of the seed of growth that the transfer of Priests was done and encourages everyone to pray for the Priests. The Mass ended with the blessings from the Bishop as pictures were taken after the recession.

After the Mass, the second part began where the Bishop, Priests, Religious, representatives of Lay Apostolates and the newly commissioned animators had a progress meeting on the Diocesan Policy with a talk by Rev. Fr. Erasmus Oguh SDV bothering around pastoral fruitfulness. It was indeed a new beginning for everyone to rededicate themselves to the pastoral life of the Diocese.