"God loves you" - Bishop Onah tells excited young people

By Eva Chuma Nnamene and Alphonsus N. Ogili

As an expression of his love for young people, and knowing that they form a great percentage of his flock, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah invited all the young people of his diocese to St Theresa's Cathedral Nsukka on 12th November 2016 to share the Holy Eucharist with them; and to keep the 2016 Nsukka Diocesan Catholic Youth Day. It was the second time Bishop Onah held such function for the young people. His first encounter with young people was held on 10th October 2014, at the beginning of his Episcopacy.

On that eventful day, St. Theresa's Cathedral Parish - venue for the 2016 Nsukka Diocesan Catholic Youth Day was full to brim. The Cathedral premises wore a very colourful atmosphere as it went agog with unquantifiable jubilations of the youths as they gathered in their thousands for the Holy Eucharist under the umbrella of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON) Nsukka Chapter. The joyous event took place a day before the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka ended her Holy Year of Mercy.

The youths in attendance at St Theresa's Cathedral on 12th November 2016, mostly clad in white and black uniforms, assembled from various parishes in the diocese, to take part in the celebration. The attendees, who numbered over 6,000, were in high spirits as they listened with keen interest to the teachings of the Chief Shepherd Bishop Onah. The tremendous number of young people that poured into the Cathedral was reminiscence of the World Youth Day in the Universal Church.

It is pertinent to remark that World Youth Days was started by the Saint Pope John Paul II who invited about 300,000 youths from across the countries at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption in 1984. He gradually established the World Youth Day, and the first one was held in 1986 in Rome, Italy with the theme: "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" 1 Peter 3: 15. Ever since then, that amazing celebration has gone on in the Universal Church.

Before he began the Holy Mass, Bishop Godfrey Onah broke the message of God's love to the youth. "I speak to you as a successor of the Apostles, and as the representative of Jesus Christ in Nsukka diocese, God loves you." As soon as he pronounced God's love upon his audience, the mammoth crowd was electrified, and waves of excitement, jubilation resounded everywhere amongst them as they bellowed "Amen!!!" with tremendous applause.

"Because God loves you," the Bishop continued "He does not want you to be lost. He wants you for Himself in this world, and in His Kingdom. Now all of us make mistakes, and all of us commit sins. If there is any sin you have committed up till today; whether you were a member of a cult, or you have committed two hundred abortions, or you have been an armed robber, or kidnapper, or a liar, or anything, God is able to forgive you today".

Another applause from the youths received Bishop's proclamation of God's forgiveness upon them. Bishop Godfrey Onah encouraged them to repent of their sins, confess them, and obtain God's full forgiveness.

During the homily, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah sent a strong message of love to the excited youths. He told them "I need you. The Church needs you and Jesus Christ needs you. To show you how much I need you, I am begging you at this Holy Mass to pray for me and my priests. This is a very difficult time for us because the temptations of the Devil are too many these days," he added.

Father Bishop urged the young brethren to be prayerful; noting that prayer is to man what network service is to devices such as telephone, radio and television. Electrical waves and magnetic waves are available. But they could only be received when one has the channel, and tunes into it. He remarked that, though, God already knows all the needs of man, it is still important for man to pray to God for such needs as it constantly reminds Him them.

Bishop Onah continued: "If Christianity is all about doing good things and obtaining all the blessings immediately in this earth, it becomes a business and no longer Christianity. Christianity is a journey of faith because you do not even know what God will give you until the end of time. But once you are doing His will, you will have an inner peace that only God can give."

Father Bishop finally enjoined the youths to pray God to increase their faith, saying that that is the only condition that enables them to be of the habit of forgiving one another. He noted that it is true some people do not even ask for forgiveness but however, he urged all that it is still important to forgive such people as it is the only means of receiving God's forgiveness.

Priests in attendance include the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Dr. Eugene Odo; the Diocesan Chaplain for youths, Rev. Fr. Jude Odo, Bishop Onah's Personal Secretary, Rev. Fr. Malachy Idogwu and a host of other priests and religious.

Immediately after the Eucharistic celebration, a question and answer session was organized. During this time, Bishop Onah gave heart-warming answers to those important issues that border young minds in the Church and Nigeria at large.


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