FULL TEXT OF THE CLOSING MESSAGE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF OSOGBO DIOCESE, MOST REV. JOHN OYEJOLA AT THE FIRST OSOGBO DIOCESAN SYNOD.
We raise our heart in gratitude to the Triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the giver, redeemer and nurturer of our life. We are especially grateful to God Almighty whose Holy Spirit inspired, guided and illuminated our hearts and filled our days with the rich support of His grace through the course of our first Diocesan synod, from its beginning in the year 2020 till this day. We ask God’s special blessings and renewal of his graces on all who have actively and generously given themselves with ardent zeal to every level of the synodal processes. It was such a stretching journey that we were called by the Lord to embark upon at the most trying time of our national life, yet with the support of providence, the super abundance of grace and the daily renewal of our minds and heart by the Holy Spirit, we journeyed on, rising above all distractions and overcoming all obstacles and challenges.
Recall that from the beginning we enlightened ourselves about the overall purpose of this synod. It was summoned by us your humble pastor under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to enable us benefit from the richer perspective of every member of the body of Christ on how best we can understand our lives and times as human beings in this environment, as well as how best we can administer the treasures of grace entrusted to us for the care and nourishment of all who hold unto God as their all in all.
As the Lord has offered us such a rich privilege, we consulted with and brought together every member of the Church, right from the parish level, experts from all relevant fields of sacred and secular sciences, experienced pastors, as well as credible witnesses to enrich our reflections as we make efforts to discover how we can best position ourselves to be more fruitful as witnesses of Christ in our broken world. This has become necessary because our pastoral environment has undergone tremendous change since the creation of our Diocese 27 years ago. To the glory of God, this humble effort towards self-renewal turns out successfully.
Our special gratitude also to all who from the very beginning and all through the course of the synod have made themselves very useful instruments of God. Their services for the future of the Church are seeds that God would nurture into marvelous fruits in His vineyard. We thank particularly members of the synod committee, the synod delegates, resource persons, dedicated parishioners and all people of goodwill who contributed directly or indirectly to the entire process. We do not fail also to recognize every effort and sacrifice made by individuals and groups to keep the Church in Osogbo together and alive. Without a united Church that is alive in Christ, there would be no synod at all. Thank you all for your collaboration with us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the work of witnessing to the gospel in our native land in all its realities. You have done your part by proposing a perspective to us through this synod. It is up to us as loyal and faithful servant of Christ and of the Church to make the best of what you have proposed guided by the same Holy Spirit who guided the formulation of theses proposals.
The success of our synod is but one of the innumerable ways the Lord shows up and accompanies our earthly sojourn together as a family of faith in this Diocese with the radiance of His unmeasurable goodness. In every moment of God’s goodness to every individual: priests, religious or lay faithful, the Lord is being good to the Diocese because we are all bounded by our common destiny, guided by one Lord and nourished from the same fountain of grace on our earthly sojourn towards eternity.
The Lord is the source of all that we have and are. What do we have that we have not received. (1 Co. 4:7). Let us therefore live through every moment with grateful hearts towards God and every human instruments the Lord uses for good in our lives. Having grateful hearts comes from realizing that before God we have no entitlements. It also comes from being conscious always of the fact that the many good things which sustain our lives that come from our fellow human beings are not our due by right, they come from their love and loyalty to God who commands us to love not just Him, but our neighbors as ourselves. Such attitude schools our hearts in the humility we need to live happily with God and with one another. We therefore exhort everyone to purge self of every form of arrogance. Every human being must therefore be approached as a living image and likeness of God. In this sense we live and work ever grateful and conscious of our need for God and others. The church is the “Father’s House” of all children of God. No one can deny the other of this right solely given to us by Christ. Through contrition and appeal for forgiveness, we must preserve our bond of fraternity in spite of our human frailties. In the same realization, we must be willing to grant forgiveness, realizing that even in situations when it is humanly difficult to forgive, the grace of God aids our limited human generosity when we open up to Him. This same spirit of mercy, contrition and penance must accompany our daily affairs at home and elsewhere. It is only as such humble priests and laity that we can live and work together happily at every level in the diocese, in so doing strengthening one another and calling others to the faith.
On this solemn closing of our diocesan synod, I wish to reiterate that our solitary goal as a church is to carry forward the work of Christ himself guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. (II Vatican Council, The Church Today, No.3). We do this collectively as a church and as individuals. Each one of us must therefore be committed to this goal. We should make it our duty as disciples of Christ to establish the kingdom of God here on earth. Our focus should be evangelization through authentic witnessing to Jesus Christ.
I entrust the Diocese to the maternal care of the ever-Virgin Mother of Christ and of the Church as well as to the protection of St Joseph the earthly guardian of our Lord and the protector of His body the Church in this most challenging times. Through their gracious intercession, may peace return to our land, and may our country be guided into the path of justice, peace, development and progress. Amen