April 15, 2024
Lagos Archdiocese News

LAGOS CHRISM MASS: “Make church structures mission-oriented, form the laity” Fr. Umoh advocates

LAGOS CHRISM MASS: “Make church structures mission-oriented, form the laity”
Fr. Umoh advocates

Appealing to priests, religious and lay faithful of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, the National Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Very Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh in his homily at the Holy Cross Cathedral, during the 2024 Chrism Mass of Archdiocese on Thursday, March 28, noted that the recent statistics of a staggering ratio of 7,742 parishioners to one priest in the Archdiocese, will not bring about the effectiveness of the Gospel unless they take to the imperative of Pope Francis by restructuring the church to make it mission-oriented where every baptized Catholic is called to be a ‘missionary disciple,’ and sees him/herself in the same light.

“Baptism has provided this enablement giving us all a share in Christ’s priesthood; yes, ‘the whole community
of believers is… priestly’ (CCC 1546) and are called to participate, each according to their own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king (cf. CCC 1546). Every disciple is a priestly evangelist. Every disciple is a priestly missionary. Every disciple is a priestly servant. All are essential for the conversion of the world. And we must not just talk about this; we must put these words into action to give the best to the people of our time.”

The National Communications Director who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Lagos, disclosed that one very good way of praying and working with the Chief Shepherd of the Archdiocese, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, is to take seriously the administrative guidelines and policies put in place to foster purposeful leadership at all levels of Pastoral units in the Archdiocese. He also noted that if the work of the priests and the mission of the Church is to attain the much anticipated success and effectiveness, special attention should be paid to the formation of the laity.

“The laity form 99% of the Church, therefore, if our work as priests, if the mission of the Church is to be successful or effective, the role of the laity is indispensable. If disciples are to be sent out on a mission for making Jesus Christ known, they need to be adequately formed. We priests know that it is our primary responsibility to teach God’s people, guide and form them in the faith (cf. AAS 57 [1965] 762).”

Therefore, Fr. Umoh pointed out that for priests to be able to properly form the laity, continous training for priests beyond the seminary formation becomes an imperative. He acknowledged the great commitment and effort of the Archbishop towards the continuous formation of his priests, and advised the priests to make the best of the opportunity for the good of the Church.

“It is likely not possible for priests to form the laity unless we ourselves are updated in knowledge, not just about the Church, but also on matters in the society… A priest who is updated is self-assured and more likely able to effectively manage and harness the zeal and talents of the caliber of laity in Lagos Archdiocese, for the good of the community and the entire Church. Francis Cardinal Arinze
eloquently stated “A good lay leader is no threat to an able parish priest or bishop,” indicating that the apostolate of the laity is not in competition with the ministry of the priests, but compliments it.

“At this point it is worth noting that the Archdiocese of Lagos is blessed with a great number of lay faithful who are educated, vibrant, zealous, experts in different fields, committed, generous, thirsty for the word of God, desirous of a faithful celebration of the sacraments as
prescribed by the Church, and always longing for spiritual/pastoral guidance. May God’s name be praised forever for this great gift to our archdiocese.”

Giving an historical antecedent and significance of the Chrism Mass celebration, the Church’s spokesperson narrated that the Chrism Mass is a significant sacred assembly in the Catholic Church, which dates back to
around 200 AD. He explained that it is a day when the clergy, religious, and lay faithful unite with their bishop in his Cathedral to celebrate the Holy Mass and thank God for their unity in Christ made possible through the gift of the priesthood and to also bless the oils of Chrism, Catechumens and of the Sick to be used in conferring the sacraments for the next one year.

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