How Catholic Youths In Asaba Celebrated First Regional Rally

BY RUTH OKWUMBU
Catholic youths of the Asaba region were opportuned, recently to again celebrate their annual regional congress, as well as the first ever rally. Hosted at St. Theresa’s Catholic church, Okwe, the programme, which lasted from Thursday, April 23 to Sunday 26, 2015, saw youths from the various parishes in the region arriving the premises from the hours of 5pm on Thursday. Youths from Ibusa, Asaba, Okwe, Okpanam and Akwuebulu were all part of the programme.
Addressing the youths after the arrival and registration, the Regional Chaplain, Rev. Father Christian Agha, commended the executives and the planning committee for successfully planning the first ever rally in the Asaba region of the organization. He urged the youths to open up their minds and hearts, in order to fully grasp all the knowledge and information which would be made available to them in the congress.
The Asaba Regional President of the organization, Mr. Ikechukwu Chukwurah, also encouraged the youths to ensure that they grabbed the essence of the congress by being part of all the programmes slated for the three days. He listed some of the programmes to include discussion and interactive session, seminars, as well as sporting activities to allow the youths burn off the excess energy.
Welcoming the youths to the annual youth congress and the first ever rally, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Miss Tessy Olimmah, appreciated them for turning up on time and following the registration process peacefully so far. She urged them to faithfully adhere to all regulations guarding the congress, including coming out from the rooms in good time for all the scheduled programmes, and keeping the environment clean and healthy. She noted that the Parish Priest and members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Okwe, had done them a huge favour by allowing them to use the premises for the programme, stating that the only way to show appreciation was to maintain the environment.
By Friday morning, the congress began with a motivation talk by Prince Chinedu Azuzu, after the clean-up and the morning mass. Speaking on the topic, “Youth! Be Positively Stubborn in The Things of God”, he urged the youths to set high spiritual and moral standards which they must not compromise even if so many people are doing same. “Do not compromise on the truth you know, no matter the pull by others. Everyone has a personal race to run. There are distractions, but your eyes must be focused on the prize.”
Making reference to biblical verses including 2nd Kings, 2: 1-15, 2nd Maccabbees 7: 1-7, Genesis 39: 9, 41: 39-44, he noted that when the natural human stubbornness and determination is positively channeled into the things of God and in upholding the truth, there are multiplier rewards, both on earth and in eternity. He urged youths to seek and find the truth which is Christ, to have a vision, to discover their potentials and doggedly develop them, shunning all distractions, stressing that “persistence is the rule of the kingdom.”
He urged the youths present to pass the knowledge acquired to others, while lamenting the low turn-out of youths for the programme from about 27 parishes in the region. He observed that youths seemed to run away from programmes targeted at building their morality and spirituality, and called on Priests, parents, laity and spiritual leaders in the church to pay quick attention, in order to preserve the future of the church as “today’s youths are tomorrow’s priests, mothers and fathers” adding that a weak youth body today would birth a weak church in the future.
In the interactive session which came up soon afterwards, the youths aired their views on the topic “Youth Restiveness: Who Is To Blame?” In itself, youth restiveness was described as actions of impatience or anxiety exhibited by youths in a society, usually caused by feeling of abandonment, perceived cheating as well as a suspicion that another has gotten what he or she does not deserve. With representatives from the different parishes present at the discussion, varying opinions were entertained, all pointing to the causes as peer pressure, the need to exhibit power, idleness, a pre-existing bias, lack of direction and focus, as well as the changing society.
The way forward was identified as engaging the youths positively in terms of creation of jobs and recreation centres, patience on the part of youths and willingness of youths to take life gradually instead of lusting after material things and seeking quick wealth through vices.
A second talk after the lunch break brought the youths face to face with the topic, “Passion and The Spirit of Excellence”. Speaking on the topic, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gemstone Nation Builders Network, Miss Noella Ifedirah, defined passion as “a strong, barely controllable emotion or desire towards someone or something”. She noted that passion is fed and fuelled by values, and that most youths were either faced with the problem of wrong values, or ever-changing values.
Defining excellence as a quality of being positively outstanding, she added that it can be developed through passion in the right values, listing some of such values to include; making a positive impact on everyone one meets, being a solution provider and not a problem to be solved, being a role model worthy of emulation, and being the best in all, especially one’s area of strength.
Others include doing the right things at all times regardless of what others are doing, valuing time and making the most of it, showing care and respect to others through words and actions, living a life of integrity and honour, and consciously building a legacy one’s nation and family would be proud of. She urged the youths to get their priorities right, and take actions instead of waiting for manna. In her words, “if there is no enabling environment, create one”.
Another interactive session later in the evening raised the controversial topic, ‘Mixed Marriage: The View Of The Youths, Causes, Advantages and Disadvantages’. ‘Mixed marriage’ within the context, was explained as a marriage contracted between people of diverse religious beliefs, usually a Catholic and a non-Catholic; and also a situation where youths of the church go outside the church to get married. Causes identified include; lack of patience, choice, over-familiarity between members, excessive delay to propose (on the part of the males), lack of maturity, as well as interference from parents, (especially homes of mixed religions).
The only advantage identified was the furtherance of national unity, but disadvantages were more varied and include; a higher rate of broken homes, disagreements arising from diverse beliefs, having children who get confused as to where their belief lies, backsliding (especially in marriage to a non-Christian). As a means of remedying the trend, youths were encouraged to patiently work on making better partners of people who share the same faith with them, instead of going outside in search for ‘already-made’ partners. In the words of the Regional Youth Chaplain, Father Christian Agha,“If you cannot make good yourself, you cannot make good another”.
Saturday morning activities commenced with a talk by Mrs. Uche Okpara, a marriage counsellor, after the morning mass and general clean-up. Speaking on “Youths; Maintaining Moral And Spiritual Purity”, she admonished the youths to desist from all forms of moral and spiritual acts that would pollute their destinies, stressing that moral impurity can derail the destinies of youths. “All forms of sex outside marriage not only damage your spirituality, but it can destroy your destinies, careers, future and your happiness in life”.
Making reference to footballers, she explained that research has shown that most footballers perform below expectation when they started engaging in random and indiscriminate sexual encounters with different women. She went further to add that most young men and women who became promiscuous have been known to lose their vision, and become never-do-wells. The quiz, which came up between representatives of the different parishes present, saw the host-parish, St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Okwe, emerging first with 35 out of 42 points, Catholic Church of Assumption, Zappa, 2nd with 32 points, in questions ranging from General Affairs, the Bible, Catholic Doctrines sports.
Saturday evening featured prayers, adoration and confession as the youths assembled in the church for a sober reflection and meditation. The social gathering came much later in the evening, and had a lot more youths in attendance, as a way of relaxing after the two days of intense activities.
For the grand-finale held in the church premises on Sunday, April 26, there was thanksgiving mass in the church by 9:00am as well as march past by the different parishes, cultural dances and welcome song and choreography presentation. Speaking during the grand finale, the Regional President, Mr. Ikechukwu Chukwurah, thanked all the youths who had participated in the congress, as well as the Patrons, Patronesses and Special Guests who had graced the occasion. He disclosed that the region had a lot of programmes up her sleeves as a way of engaging the youths and curbing youth restiveness, as well as youth empowerment, and called on all the youths to be part of the programmes.