By Fr. Anthony Adetayo

The opening Mass for the ongoing National Laity Conference taking place in Ijebu-Ode Diocese started at about 9:15am on Friday 9th December 2022.  

The Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of the Diocese; Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina with a multitude of Priests as concelebrants and all Laity delegates across Nigeria in attendance.

In his homily, the Bishop says “we must stand to our vocation.” Sharing from the gospel of the day, the Bishop says “Jesus uses metaphors to compare His generation. They rejected both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. If Jesus could say this about His generation, what would he say about our generation today? Our generation is a generation of excuses, excuses not to do the right thing. Our generation sits on a citadel of excuses that make sense only to themselves and not to God. We want to dethrone God and enthrone humanity as determinant factor of governance, of values, of spirituality. The name of God is not being used. Only the names of pastors are praised. When the people who ought to service us are serving themselves, when justice and fairness is no longer our focus, but it’s about nepotism. For those who make wrong choices, remember “not so are the wicked, not so,… for the path of the wicked perish”. The laity also had their general thanksgiving at the Mass.

After the Mass, the Bishop gave a keynote address titled “Who is my neighbour?”, where he sets the ball rolling and gave the contextual framework of this theme as it will be used throughout the conference, encouraging the Laity to wake up the sleeping giant in them by going beyond the limitations of tribe and worldview to loving their neighbour.

The National president; Hon Sir Henry Yunkwap delivered his presidential address, welcoming everyone and highlighting the salient events that have taken place in the Laity apostolate since his inception into office. He thanked ASUU for calling off the strike action and encouraged active participation in civic education and massive turn out for election among other points made.

Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Balogun also gave a reflection on “Who is my neighbour?”. He did a scriptural analysis on who a true neighbour is, with a comparison to the current Nigerian situation. Fr. Balogun recommended practical steps to help the Laity to becoming better neighbour. For him, love should return, we must do something to help and take action against evil.

Rev. Fr. John Aruleba also gave a talk with the theme “efficient neighbourhood networking: a means to end poor and insensitive governance in the 21st century Nigeria. According to him, our culture engenders materialism, consumerism, unhealthy competition and even widening the gap between the poor and the rich. “We must embrace the spirit of solidarity.”

There were periods of group discussion and sharing among the Laity to drive home the points about who a neighbour is.