NIGERIA, Michael Okpala •
The Contract-Consecration is the form of commitment specific to the Schoenstatt Secular Institutes. Daring to say yes to a divine call is quite daunting because of its demands. However it is even more daunting to say this yes forever. On 20 September 2018 four members of the course, Apostles of the Covenant of Love, who have since been ordained deacons, sealed their perpetual commitment as members of the Schoenstatt Fathers’ community. On the same day, three members of the Stella Sion course sealed their temporary commitment for the third time. They are still engaged in their theological studies in Nigeria. —
Remain in me, love one another, go and bear fruit
It was providential that these two events took place still on the fiftieth anniversary of Fr. Kentenich’s funeral. The day began with Vespers presided over by our General Superior, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, who also received the seven members’ commitment of the community.
In his homily Fr. Juan Pablo reflected on Jn.15:1-17, a reading chosen by the future deacons. It also deepened the message of Fr. Juan Pablo to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Fr. Kentenich’s death. He enlarged on three main points:
First, “remain in me, as I also remain in you” (Jn. 15:4). Fr. Juan Pablo told the candidates what he had earlier told the Schoenstatt Family, that this is what our father and founder would want to tell us fifty years after his death. It is the identity and charism of our founder that distinguishes his disciples. It is our earnest desire, as his disciples, to live by that charism each day and to be attached to him in the covenant of love that enables us to abide in him. That charism makes him present in us, alive in us and active through us.
Second, “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). Fr. Juan Pablo pointed out that although the founder’s charism is our aspiration, we must not forget that it is not given only for a selected few, or a somewhat enlightened minority. It is for everyone. It is a gift and treasure that we all must appreciate and appropriate together. It demands unity and loving collaboration.
Third, “I have chosen you so that you will go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn. 15:16). Our General Superior emphasized that the perpetual contract, or contract renewal, is not made possible simply because we chose the community, or the community chose us, but more importantly because God chose us. His choice is prior to ours and precedes our presumed qualities. And because of His choice we can dare to go out and bear fruit that will last.
Finally, turning to the candidates, especially those to be perpetually contracted, he said that saying “Yes forever” could appear frightening. It is actually frightening, because we are unable to live up to it on our own. However, Fr. Juan Pablo said, we can dare to say Yes, and to say, “Yes forever,” because, our Lord Jesus Christ has done it before us (as has the Blessed Mother and Fr. Kentenich). Because Christ, our Lord and Master has said Yes, we dare to say “Yes forever” in the confidence and trust that he will sustain us and bring about much more than we can.
The celebration concluded in the Shrine where the candidates said their Yes for the third time and forever. Our General Superior imparted the final blessing and all went away joyfully. In attendance were: Frs. Juan Pablo Catoggio (General Superior), Tommy Nin Mitchell (Regional Superior), Kingsley Okereke (Delegate Superior), Joseph Kunav (Rector of the Fathers house in Ibadan), Herbert Opara (Novice Master), Charles Ozioko (Rector of Students), Jean Bernard (Superior of our community in Burundi) and the students.
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