The Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, North West Nigeria is wrapping up the Year of St. Joseph with the first ever Pastoral Congress for the Diocese. The congress which held at the Pastoral Centre, Sokoto, drew participants from all parts of the Diocese.
The theme of the Congress was Sustaining Family Values. Two papers were presented at the Congress in which the presenters digested the collapse of family values: causes and effect and the role of institutions in sustaining family values.
Declaring the Congress open, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah said there are many factors that pose as challenge to family values. These he said included civilization, government policies that directly or indirectly impact on families, and attitude of families themselves.
The Bishop urged participants who are representatives of the different societies and parishes in the Diocese, priests and the religious to freely discuss the issues and proffer suggestions that could bring about change.
A Priest in charge of Family and Human Life in Kaduna Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Aneke discussed the first paper. He outlined the roles which pastoral agents should play to help mitigate the challenges that families face. He said pastoral agents should not be scared of checking on and supporting families when they need arises to enable them rise above the challenges confronting them.
In the second presentation, Mr. Matthews Otalike outlined the roles specific institutions should play towards sustaining family values. He identified some values which have been badly affected and suggested what families should do to reverse further slide.
The family institution he believes, can regenerate itself with proper commitment by spouses to reorient their children. He added that the Church should come up with programmes that would assist families, reinforce the marriage preparation programme and that lay apostolate associations in the church should conscientize their members on the need to be closer to their children and be interested in what they do while growing up.
He advised parents to educate their children in Catholic Church schools which Christian values are upheld.
Participants were constituted into discussion groups to further digest the issues raised in the papers presented and come up with salient points to be built into a communique to be issued subsequently.
The lead organizer of the Pastoral Congress is Vicar General Pastoral of Sokoto Diocese, now Monsignor Joseph Atado. Welcoming participants, he listed the importance of pastoral congress as opportunity to discern the needs of the diocese, feel the pulse of the faithful; set goals and priorities to respond to the needs of the diocese; discover new talents in the diocese; and serve as a forum for interaction and dialogue between the Bishop and the faithful in the Diocese.