By Fr. Anthony Adetayo

Catechesis is a life-long process of initial conversion, formation, education, and on-going conversion through word, worship, service and it seeks to lead all God’s people to an ever deepening relationship with God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is pertinent therefore that Directors of Religious Education throughout Nigeria gather annually for their conference in order to give direction for the year and listen to the need of faith learning across the federation.

It is in this light that the 2023 conference for National Directors of Religious Education titled “Call to journey together: a church on mission” started with an Opening Mass on Wednesday 26th January 2023 at St. Sebastian Catholic Cathedral, Ijebu-Ode at about 10:00am.

Lagos Province happens to be the host for the year, though they hosted 4 years ago. Ijebu-Ode Diocese was seeded the hosting right this time around. The Bishop of the Diocese; Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina who doubles as the CBCN Chairman for Religious Education and Catechesis was the Chief-celebrant with about 40 Priests as concelebrants. Many Religious who are designated Directors were also in attendance together with few other catechists and Lay Faithful. The Provincial Director and Diocesan Director of Ijebu-Ode Diocese; Rev. Fr. Joseph Ogunnupebi welcomed everyone to the conference.

The Bishop in his homily reminds the people the importance of the Feast of the conversion of St. Paul which is celebrated on this same day. According to him, “when we talk about the Directorate of Religious Education, we talk about catechesis and at the heart of catechesis is conversion because saints have their past while sinners have a future. The conversion of St Paul became a central theme in the New Testament to invite us also to the process of conversion.”

In furtherance of his message he said it’s impossible to call Jesus your Lord without still knowing him. St. Paul said who are you Lord? He then asked “What story do you have to tell and who will tell your stories?” In conclusion he said “We must be witnesses. That is why the voice of the church is no longer loud. Witnessing is missing because what we say is no longer enough. St. Paul’s life becomes an example for us.”

There was recognition of the national executive members and after the Mass, the conference began with the Bishop present with them in their deliberations. Other discussions were to take place as planned for the three days conference in Abbe Louis Bautain Retreat Center, Ijebu-Itele.