– 4 Raised to the Order of Diaconate, 1 Installed Acolyte
– Ayah threw more light on the Church’s stand on Same-sex Union
By: Cosmas Essiet
The 2024 Uyo Catholic Diocesan New Year Prayers, Fasting and New Evangelization Outreach Assembly, which started on Thursday, 4th January, 2024, came to an end on Sunday, 7th January, 2024, with the celebration of a Thanksgiving Mass, where four gentlemen, who have successfully passed through the rigorous training in the seminary, and were found worthy in character and learning by the Holy Mother Church, were raised to the Order of Diaconate, while one person was installed as an Acolyte.
The Diocesan New Year Fasting and Prayer Assembly is an annual event, where the entire Catholic faithful of Uyo Diocese gather as one big family, at the Cardinal Ekandem Seminary grounds, at the beginning of each year, to thank God for His love and benevolence, plead for the forgiveness of sins, and, commit the new year and the Diocese into His Fatherly care.
The Thanksgiving Mass, which had many Priests in the procession, started at forty-five minutes pass the hour of seven in the morning, with the Chief Shepherd of Uyo Catholic Diocese, Most. Rev. Dr. John Ebebe Ayah as the Chief Celebrant / Ordination Prelate, assisted by very. Rev. Fr. Dr. Donatus Udoette and Rev. Fr. Linus Uwah.
Giving his introductory remarks, the Bishop thank God for His never ending love for the faithful, which is made manifest in the gift of life, and the opportunity to be reconciled to Him through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
In his homily, the Bishop thanked all the faithful of Uyo Diocese, and indeed, everyone who came far and wide to take active part in the solemn assembly. Recognizing the many uncertainties surrounding life, and the many tragic occurances in the world today, he noted that, all we owe God is gratitude for sparing our lives, inspite of our unfaithfulness.
Ayah, who recently marked seventeen years of Episcopacy, noted that, the day’s celebration coincides with the Church’s Celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord; the commemoration of the the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the presentation of gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River and at his first miracle, at Cana in Galilee.
Assuring the faithful if God’s protection in the face of trials, tribulations and evil plots, he said that King Herod was pretending to be good, by asking where the King was born, so that he, too, can go worship him, but God, who knew his real intention protected baby Jesus, “so will God always protect us from people trying to destroy us”, he said.
Throwing more light on the church’s stand on same-sex union as contained in the document; “Fiducia Supplicans” Ayah said that, in the Catholic Church, marriage is still between a man and a woman and nothing changes this. Blessing same-sex couples is not in any way a form of recognizing their union as marriage. Anyone can ask for a blessing, and asking for a blessing can be a sign of humility, trust in God, and expression of the desire to do better. The central message of the document is hinged on the Church’s desire to welcome everyone with God’s love and mercy with the hope of repentance. The Catholic Church does not encourage same-sex marriage. People who engage in this type of practice cannot not get the Sacramental blessings and rites, as contained in the Rubrics.
The following persons were ordained as Deacons; Anthony Joseph Udo, Abasiofon idara Boniface Edward, Nsuhoridem Pius Umouman, and Anthony Innocent Timothy, while Alpha Emmanuel Effiong was installed as an Acolyte.
In his closing remarks, the bishop thanked all those who contributed in various ways to the hosting and success of the event, prayed that God should continually shine his countenance upon us, and for journey mercies.