Catholics in Osun hold first synod as bishop asks Nigerians to shun politicians’ money

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BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Uba Group

As the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Osun State, is holding its first synod, the Bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. John Oyejola, has informed Nigerians that their votes make them more powerful than politicians and that they should desist from collecting money from political office seekers in exchange for their votes.

Specifically, the cleric urged electorate to desist from selling their votes during the 2023 General Elections.

Bishop Oyejola made these remarks while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 1st Diocesan Synod slated to hold between October 2 and 8, 2022 at Our Lady and St. Kizito Pastoral Centre, Oke-Gada, Ede, Osun State, with the theme: “You Will Be My Witnesses: Faithfulness to Christ and to Apostolic Tradition (Acts 1:8).

He said what Nigeria needed was selfless leaders and urged voters to scrutinize candidates well, hold them accountable to their promises and vote them out should they derail from their manifestos.

Delivering homily at the Holy Mass he celebrated, Bishop Oyejola charged participants including priests, lay faithful and religious at the weeklong Synod to be free, sincere, objective and open in their deliberations and discussions at the Synod sessions.

He described the Synod “as a journey of sharing and listening, through which the Holy Spirit can speak to the people,” stressing that “the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone of us here at the Synod.”

He noted that, the synod is the first one in the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo and it was expected to have impact on the people of God.

According to him, “the significance of this synod is that we are making everybody, laity, clergy, religious, to know and come to that deep believe that the Church is theirs. Every baptized Christian in the Catholic Church is a disciple of Christ and Jesus is calling them to participate in His mission; mission of sharing their faith with others. So, we are challenging everybody to own the faith, go out and share the faith with other people.”

On the 62nd anniversary of the nation, the Chief Shepherd of the diocese said, “Nigeria is over 60 and by now, we should be preparing for our future generation. But by now, even the generation of now doesn’t know where they belong. So, we need to pray, no just to pray, but to work because we have been praying and we are not working. If we pray only, nothing will happen, we need to pray and work because God will not do for us, what we can do for ourselves. God will hear our prayer but we need to work.

“How do you work? From family; family should form their children so that when they become leaders in the society in the future, they will become ambassadors and good leaders in the future. And those who are leaders too should play their role. Their purpose of leading the people is to show good example. Christ was a servant-leader who came to live to the point of leaving his life for others. How do we live others by even giving our own selves. Selfless service is what we need in Nigeria and now that we are going to elections very soon, I beg everybody to go and register and if you have registered, get your PVC and if you have your PVC, make sure you go out to vote.

“And if you have your PVC, don’t sell your votes, your vote is your power. You have the power, the politicians are our servants, they are begging us to send them on missions. They are looking for job, that’s why they beg us for votes and when we give them assignment to do, we must make sure that they stand by it and if they don’t perform well, choke then out with your votes.”

Delivering a keynote address on the theme of the Synod, the first bishop of the diocese who is now the Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Rev. Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, urged delegates to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, reflect together and resolve to work together.

While congratulating the diocese on the first synod, the Archbishop said, “Osogbo Diocese is at a decisive period of her existence, especially with the growth of political Islam. While Christians may be a minority group in the State, Catholic Church has established a cordial relationship with all religions and groups and has always enjoyed the goodwill of all. This must be built upon and enhanced. The Marian Pilgrimage Centre is a national center for renewal that embraces all people of goodwill.”

Earlier in his address of welcome, the Vicar-General of the Diocese who doubles as Chairman of the Synod Planning Committee, Very Rev Fr. Thaddeus Ajayi, said representatives of parishes in the diocese had gathered to brainstorm on how the diocese would forge ahead and make more impacts before another synod in the next ten years.

Ajayi said, “what prompted the synod is the need to know where we are, where we are coming from and where we are going. The diocese has been existing for 27 years now and by Church’s recommendation, a synod should happen every ten years. We just gave ourselves sometime to relax, re-adjust and be stable a bit. After having celebrated the silver jubilee of the diocese, we thought it wise to hold our first synod and we hope by this, we will know what’s the desire of the people of God or what what is the direction of the Holy Spirit for the Church, so that listening together, discussing together, and praying together for one week will truly show us where we are coming from, where we are and where we should go in the next ten years because for another synod to hold, it will be after ten years.

“The expectations are that people will open up, that is very important and that is why the bishop emphasized that the Holy Spirit is ready to speak to everybody. We have carefully selected people who are knowledgeable about what is happening in their parishes and who are ready to share. Of course, before now, we have had series of discussions at the parish and deanery level. We set out certain questions that would enable people to think and to reflect on our past and our future. So, we hope that with the delegates we are having from all the parishes and other selected groups of people in the Church, they would be able to speak out their minds, their desires so that the bishop can be properly informed and he will be able to choose the right path that the Holy Spirit wants him to lead the Church,” he added.