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2019, May 17

The opening ceremony of this three-yearly event that brings together all the Cardinals, Archbishop and Bishops of the West African subregion took place at the Burkina Faso government conference centre. The ceremony was well attended by the members of RECOWA-CERAO and the government of Burkina Faso. The president of Burkina Faso Richard Marc Christian KABORE was present with his entourage.  Both the presidents of RECOWA and his SECAM counterpart were all present. Lot of Representatives from all works of life were in attendance. Various organizations like ECOWAS, USA Bishops Conference etc were all present with their various goodwill messages. They all hailed the Leaders of RECOWA-CERAO for their thoughtfulness. There were interludes of traditional music. At the end we had group photographs with the president of the country and light refreshments.  The opening ceremony continued in the evening with the president of RECOWA-CERAO thanking all who have worked for the growth and development of this Association praying the Holy Spirit to keep guiding and fructifying the efforts of all who have been working in private and in public for this Association.  We are and must remain one people.  There were more goodwill messages from various other groups like the West African Association of priests, Reverend Sisters and Men religious. 

As part of the on-going plenary of all the Bishops of West Africa, an election was held yesterday to pick three Bishops who will pilot the affairs of the conference for the next three years. To the greater glory of God our own man Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama was elected the president.  His two vice presidents are Bishop Jose Kamnate from Guinea and Bishop Alexis Koulabli from Cote d'ivoire. 

The session ended with the opening mass at the Cathedral of our Lady of Africa presided over by the president of RECOWA-CERAO, His Grace Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama in French to the amazement of all. The Mass on the 2nd day was said by John Cardinal Onaiyekan and homily delivered by Archbishop Akubeze.

The theme of their plenary is "The new evangelization and integral human development in the Church Family of God in West Africa".  We had over two hundred Bishops from all parts of West Africa plus Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mauritania etc. People were drawn from all over the world to discuss immigration.  After the papers and discussions, a workshop was declared. The English-speaking Bishops were headed by Archbishop then we had the French and Portuguese speakers together. At the end of the workshop the Bishops resolved to act positively to quell this massive outflow of our youth from Africa to Western world where they are subjected to modern slavery, hard labour and at times death. The bishops decided not to be silent any longer. They were charged to meet and discuss with their various country governments and fashion the way out.

-        Fr George Nwachukwu, Director of Communications and Media for Regional African Bishops Conference.


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