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Issues of Doctrines & Morals
15th JOS ARCHDIOCESAN GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Opening Mass 21st August 2017 St Louis 9:00am
Aug 14, 2017

OPENING MASS FOR THE 15TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY ...

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OLF GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATION - Kaigama's Homily

OUR LADY OF FATIMA (OLF) SISTERS, JOS,  GOLDEN JUBILEE CLEBRATION, HOMILY BY MOST REV. IGNATIUS A. KAIGAMA, ARCHBISHOP OF JOS, AT OLF CATHEDRAL, 13th OCTOBER 2015

This day is a special one for not only Marian devotees but for all those who believe in God’s constant presence and powerful intervention in the course of human history. This day witnessed the culmination of the six appearances of Our Lady from May 13th to the 13th of October 1917 in a small village of Fatima to Lucia (9), Francisca (8) and Jacinta (6) while they were looking after the family sheep. It should be remembered that these special apparitions came at a time when the First World War had introduced Europe to a very horrible violence and shortly before the communist revolution would plunge Russia and later Eastern Europe into six decades of oppression under militant atheistic governments. Our Lady urged the little children to conversion, prayer and penance, knowing that there would be more wars, starvation, and the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father if the world did not make reparation for sins. She urged them to pray and make sacrifices to God so that peace would come upon the world. Portugal also was consumed by political confusion and violence. She repeatedly told them to say the rosary everyday to bring peace to the world and to end the World War.

As we gather here, a special celebration is taking place in Fatima in Portugal, to which I was invited to give a testimony about Nigeria but I told them I could not go because my sisters are having a special celebration to mark fifty years of their foundation. I could not miss this celebration for any reason and I am happy that God Almighty has been gracious enough to let us witness the event. With Mary, we can say our “souls magnify the Lord and our spirit rejoices in God our Saviour” for what he has done for the Fatima sisters all these years from the beginning when they were born as infants and grew to become toddlers, teenagers, adults and now have reached the golden age of wisdom.

More than ever, we should beg our Mother to intercede for us at this moment of our national history.  One of the key activities of the OLF Sisters is prayer. We should join them pray for the intercession of Our Lady for the Church and the nation. We are not at war in Nigeria, but the violence, kidnappings, armed robberies and even the acts of corruption which deprive the people of a meaningful existence is in a sense some sort of war against innocent and helpless Nigerians. We wish President Buhari well in his determination to by God’s grace stamp out all these and we pray that he will receive the desired cooperation of all of us.

Back home in our dear State, the sad news of frequent attacks and the killing of innocent citizens by aggressors yet to be concretely identified deserves our fervent prayers for God to touch them and convert them, by changing their murderous hearts to hearts of love so that they can begin to respect life and not cheapen it for whatever reason. Many villages in the Riyom, Bokkos, Daffo areas have suffered multiple attacks and those in the Barkin Ladi areas such as such as: Fan, Kura Falls, Sho, Gashis, Foron, Ganarop, Rop, Ganan Daji, Kura Berom, Kakuruk, Bedzak, Xland, Kadunung, etc have also suffered persistent  attacks and  we are yet to identify the culprits and their real motives because they vanish quickly after the attacks. One asks why these attacks don’t seem to stop even despite the presence and activities of security agents. Renewed strategies must be put in place to stop this heartless bloodshed. In addition, we need atonement, conversion and purification. We thank God that we have a Congregation whose evangelization mission is rooted in prayer. Let us join them in praying for the conversion of the killers that their real identity be revealed and that God will touch these evil doers and inspire mercy in them, to realize that to take any life is contrary to the religious faiths that we so proudly profess as we parade and pride ourselves as a religious nation. The call of John the Baptist who both Muslims and Christians acknowledge as a great prophet should be adhered to: “Repent” (cf. Lk 3:3). To repent is to refrain from doing evil; to turn away from the evil path and to embark on the path of goodness and righteousness, to allow the sacred word of God to be a light to guide our steps and a lamp for our paths (Ps 119:105).

Inspired by the events of Fatima and the message of Our Lady, a Congregation was founded in Jos in 1965 by the late Irish Bishop John Reddington and called “Our Lady of Fatima Sisters”. The Golden Jubilee sticker which I have proudly displayed on my car says that the Fatima Sisters were founded: “to bring Christ to the World and the World to Christ”. Our world is broken and destabilized. We live in a world where we call good evil and evil good, and man is so inhuman to his fellow man, that we Christians need to keep reminding ourselves and others as the first reading from Isaiah 63:7-9 says that God is still in charge. He is numro uno - number one. We must keep proclaiming the marvelous love of Yahweh, his faithfulness, mercy, presence both in nature as Pope Francis writes in his recent encyclical Laudato Si, and in our bothers and sisters, no matter how much they may differ from us. If we believe in God who is our common origin there will be no need for such atrocity committed against one another either for tribal, political or social reasons

The Congregation of the OLF is reminding us today in the well chosen second reading from Colossians 3:12-17, not to forget about the mercy of God and so we must be clothed in sincere compassion, bear with one another, forgive as soon as a quarrel begins. Pope Francis tells us of the “magical” words with which we can change things for the better in the family and even in the world: “Please”, “thank you” and “sorry”.

We in Jos Archdiocese are witnesses to the faithfulness of the OLF Sisters to their primary mission and pray with and for them that they will sustain it to the end, so that they can receive the crown of glory.  The Year of Consecrated Life within which your Jubilee of foundation falls is providential not accidental. You are called to a deeper spiritual life, to more witnessing, dedication, pastoral engagement and service in unconditional love.

A man was in love with a girl but took off in search of a better life in Lagos and even went on to Togo, Republic of Benin and Ghana. When he thought he had gathered enough sources to return home to marry his beloved girl, he came home only to find out that the girl had become a Rev. Sister and even gone on to become a medical Doctor. He was raging mad when people told him that they were happy that their community has produced the first sister and doctor, he retorted: “does God not see other girls”? Was it only my girl he could see? It took him time to get over it. God’s call is mysterious and one can say magnetic. When he calls like prophet Amos says, it is hard to resist. (cf. Amos 3:8). All these sisters you see here have a personal story to tell. They had to leave something beautiful behind to embrace God’s mission. Some would have been elsewhere but God chose them to serve in the religious congregation of OLF. We say “thank you” to God for the gift of the sisters and we say “thank you” to the sisters for their inspiring presence and work.

As you know, they are involved in health, educational, social, pastoral work, etc and only God knows the countless number of people they have given help and hope to. From their two pioneer members, Sr. Martin De Porres and Sr. Mary Patrick, first professed on 13th January, 1968, we now have a total of 65 sisters and among them sisters such as Sr. Shebi, championing the use of herbal medicine, Sr. Gidado, actively an apostle of the family and many others who are diligently carrying out their duties in an edifying manner.  From Kuru to Namu  Koll to Ampang West and now to far away Jalingo, Minna, Zaria, Abuja, Kano, Lafia, Shendam and Pankshin Dioceses, they are bringing the good news and social services  to the poor and healing the broken hearted (cf. Is 61:1).

We pray for an increase in their numbers (young girls take note please) because the number of the poor to be served keeps increasing in the country The other reason is that  it is only when they have reached the required number of one hundred that they can be granted the Pontifical Right. Let us keep praying for them and supporting them materially. They have embarked on laudable projects that need to be supported. I beg you to help them.  I am happy that they have some associates and friends among you who have been so helpful. Sisters, please continue to pray so that peace will flow like a river not only in Plateau State but in Nigeria so that we shall witness an era of greater brotherliness and sisterliness. May the next fifty years be more fruitful and may the Congregation of Our Lady of Fatima continue to witness phenomenal growth through Christ our Lord. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

 


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