From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Preparations are in top gear at the Diocese of Issele-Uku in Delta State for the investiture of 15 prominent Catholics who were recently honoured by Pope Francis with the prestigious Papal Knights and Dames of St Gregory and St Sylvester.
Bishop of Issele-Uku Diocese, Most Rev Michael Elue will perform the ceremony on behalf of the Holy Father within a Eucharistic celebration on Saturday, 18 June 2022 at St Paul Cathedral, Issele-Uku.
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In a press release by the Director of Communications for the diocese, Rev Fr Charles Uganwa, quoted the chairman of the planning committee, Fr Norbert Uchuno as saying that all was set for the ceremony, adding that priests, religious, lay faithful and friends are invited to experience the rich traditional liturgy of the church at such ceremonies and to give honour to whom it is due while sharing in the joys of the honourees.
He gave the names of the awardees as Patrick Ikemefuna, Okechukwu Ofili, Epiphany Azinge, SAN, Benedict Chukwuma, John U T Okolo, Joseph Emuezie, Henrienta Odume, Rosaline Bozimo, Henrienta Ajuebon, Caroline Sotunde Patience Elumeze, Carol Enuha, Justina Nwaobi, NES, Elizabeth Okwuadi and Suzanna Nwabude.
Uganwa said some of the awardees were also honoured with Papal Medals, explaining that “these men and women have distinguished themselves in faith and morals and have contributed immensely to the growth of the Church and society.
“These honourees, and many others, no doubt have been instrumental to the physical and spiritual development of the local Church thereby helping in no small measures in grassroots evangelization in the diocese.
“They have also selflessly helped in bringing positive development to Nigeria in all ramifications.
“The honour given to them is therefore a clarion call on them to further gird their loin in the defence of Christ in all ramifications at all times as his soldier.
“As soldiers of Christ and the Church, Knights are expected to be fired with a fervent zeal of the Holy Spirit for the social apostolate, holding in high esteem professional competence, family and civic sense, virtues related to social behaviour, such as honesty, sense of justice, sincerity, courtesy and moral courage without which there can be no religious or social apostolate.
“They should be ready to endure any hardship for the good of their fellow men, recalling the words of St. Paul: ‘If one of us suffers, all suffer together; if one of us is honoured, all rejoice together (Cor. 12:26),” he charged them.
Uganwa explained that “a vocation of knighthood is one of service to every member of the human family.
“This is why indignity, injustice and inhumanity at any time, in any place, towards any man or woman should arouse in a knight a deep and burning concern, especially when fellow men are denied human and civil rights when there are riots in our streets and university campuses when death and devastation are rained on other men’s cities when people hunger and thirst in other lands or in our own.
“Seen from this angle, knights should constitute a sort of “Vigilante” group, monitoring and reacting to the moral, social, economic and political imperatives addressed by Christ to all nations: ‘Whatever you wish that men would do to you, you do so to them’.
“Nigeria today needs these Knights and Dames to witness to the truth of the Gospels in line with the teachings of Christ for the good of the society.”
He recalled that the pontifical order was begun “by Pope Gregory XVI (1745-1846) in 1831 and named in honour of Pope Gregory I, a saint who died in 604, whose writings greatly influenced Catholicism through the Middle Ages.
“Gregory XVI, a staunch defender of the now-extinct Papal States in Italy, created the Diocese of Both Californias in 1840, which covered today’s American state and the present Mexican state of Baja California.
“It was Mahony who petitioned the pope to admit women to the order for the first time, and in 1994 nominated 10 local women who became the first dames, according to Weber.”
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