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2018, Dec 09
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja Ecclesiastical Province, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has advocated the provision of better funding for the Catechetical apostolate of the Church in Nigeria, in order to make it more vibrant and compliant in the contention of the new evangelization mission of the Universal Church.
Cardinal Onaiyekan made this call in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the first National Catechetical Summit of the Church in Nigeria. The four-day programme which had Revamping Catechetical Apostolate in Nigeria as its theme, was attended by over 300 delegates, including some members of the CBCN; and a representative of the Vatican.
On the need for the Nigerian church to be self- reliant in the funding of the catechetical apostolate, the cardinal declared: “I wish to acknowledge here the regular support for catechists that the Pontifical Mission Societies have been giving to us in the mission land. The new era of catechesis that lie ahead will need to be properly funded. Rome is likely to reduce, not increase, subsidies in the future. Our local churches will need to put funding of Catechesis much higher on our priority of diocesan budgets. This should be as important as building new churches and erecting lavish rectories.”
The Archbishop of Abuja who gave a genesis of the importance of Catechesis and those saddled with the responsibility of the apostolate in the country, since the advent of the Catholic Church in the life of the Universal Church and the Church in Nigeria in particular; also used the occasion to call for enhanced educational training and qualification for Catechists in the country.
He declared: “Now we have to begin to think of pastoral assistants who can work with the parish priest in the pastoral care of the modern parish. Such pastoral assistants would be expected to be of higher level of academic and theological formation and doctrine of the Church.
He continued: “The time has come for us to open the door for graduates who can do post graduate higher diploma or degree courses in Theology, both in Pastoral Theology and Catechetics, so that they can be employed as pastoral assistants in big parishes especially in urban areas. He also noted the need for the Church in the country to revisit the issue permanent Diaconate, pointing out that this institution has not taken root in the Church in Nigeria.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan who emphasized the need for proper formation of the faithful in the faith said: “We should not only be thinking of Catechesis for the purpose of the preparation of the Sacraments. We will need formation in the faith of the normal Christians who are confirmed and even married.  Many of our Christians are poorly educated in their faith; in this regard, we are very far behind the Pentecostals who have made the teaching of faith their major flag of the success of their work.”
The Archbishop of Abuja  who gave a historical genesis of  the types of Catechists in the life of the Church noted: “If we neglect this task, we pay heavily in terms of the shallow faith of our Catholics who are unable to stand their ground against all attacks.”


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