Owerri welcomes Apostolic Year Students for 2023 Encounter
From the 15th to the 19th of March, 2023 the Claretian students who are on regency in Parishes and schools after their studies in philosophy (Apostolic Year), convened at the Claretian Institute of Philosophy Maryland, Nekede, Owerri for the Apostolic Year Students’ Encounter 2023. This Encounter is a yearly activity started among the Nigerian Claretians in the year 2000, and it is geared towards bringing together these students to share deeply their apostolic experiences which include the Joys, sorrows, disappointments and achievements recorded during the course of their mission, as part of their formation, and receive guidance from the different Provincial Prefectures and also from the facilitators of the programme each year knowing that experiences like these lighten the hearts of young missionary participants and rejuvenate their missionary zeal.
At the foundation of this year’s encounter was Mark 6:30 – 31 “The apostles returned and met with Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. They were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat. So he said to them “let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest for a while…”
It started with joy as the students arrived from their various places of regency to embrace this opportunity where they met once again after being apart from each other for some time. They were warmly welcomed by the key facilitators of the programme and the host local superior cum community. The activities of the second day 16th March, 2023 began with the celebration of Lectio Divina centred on the gospel text from Mark 6:30 – 34 and culminated with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the end of the day. The day presented a great opportunity for the students to share their experiences one after the other and freely express themselves regarding how they fair in the missions. As expressed during the intercambio, the Apostolic Year experience has been for them a time to go out and meet Jesus in his people in the peripheries, in schools, in the farmlands, in the industries and urban settings, on the tracks where they run for safety with those plagued by insecurity and displacement from their homelands etc. The Provincial Prefect of Apostolate Fr. Wenceslaus Isidenu, CMF, gave a conference to the students on the theme: “Being a living sacrifice life”. Using Genesis 22:1-18, he encouraged the young missionaries to put in their best, be creative, remain obedient to God’s will and to their directors and try to make a difference in the mission. In the words of the participants, the encounter was Salutary.
On the third day, the participants had an audience / conference with the Provincial Prefect of Formation Fr. Stanislaus Ekwujuru, CMF who moderated the year’s encounter with the Provincial Secretary Fr. Dominic Ukpong, CMF. They were also afforded an opportunity for external direction where more directions and counselling can take place to suit each person’s particular experiences. This day witnessed even greater delight for the students as they also had an audience with the Provincial Superior of the Claretian Missionaries, East Nigeria Province, the VRF Nathaniel Eke, CMF through a zoom meeting. The Provincial Superior, heartily welcomed the brothers, commended them and shared with them some historical antecedents regarding the Apostolic Year program for Claretian Students of the Province and gave them his fatherly encouragement. He reminded the brothers that they are the future of the Province and Congregation and charged them to remain strong in hard work, take their conformity to Christ seriously as well as their formation and try to leave Christ-like marks wherever they are, making a difference and creating positive impact in their respective apostolates.
After the exercises of the morning, the students and facilitators had some time out for lunch and site seeing, another refreshing moment before they returned to conclude the day with the adoration of the Holy Eucharist and Prayers. On the 19th March, 2023 in gratitude to God with rejuvenated spirits the encounter was brought to a close amid songs of joy and thanksgiving with uplifted spirit with a Holy Mass.
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