Ilaro, Ogun (Nigeria). It was historical as the independent Delegation of West Nigeria held her maiden Youth rally. The rally started on the 11th to 14th August, 2011 at the federal polytechnic in the ancient city of Ilaro in Ogun state (western part of Nigeria).
The theme for this maiden edition is “living in Christ, living for humanity”. The purpose of the rally was to teach the youths the importance of morality in line with the life style of Saint Anthony Mary Claret. The Rally was held at the same time the World Youth Day was taking place in Spain and was in fact motivated by the same spirit. In the Spirit of Claretian communion, the rally took place when the Claretian Family was having its programmes in the city of Segovia to mark the world youth day.
The Rally opened on the 11th of August with the registration of members and celebrated vespers which was conducted by Gabriel Wada, Cmf, Matthew Abutu, Cmf and Phillip Agada, Cmf.
The 2nd day of the rally was filled with programs. It started with the Holy Mass which was presided by the Major Superior of the West Delegation Very Rev. Fr. Henry Omonisaye, Cmf. Rev. Fr. Francis Ofoegbu, Cmf gave the homily. In his homily he admonishes the youths to stand firm in Christ in their service to humanity. He advised the youths not to allow anyone introduce them to an immoral lifestyle. He encouraged the youths to follow the footsteps of St. Anthony Mary Claret who was humble, prayerful and devoted to Mother Mary.
After the Holy Mass came the first talk which was presented by the Prefect of Apostolate Rev. Fr. Mathias Iheonu Cmf, with the topic: Following the Footstep of Claret. He advised the youths to follow the steps of Claret who was zealous in winning souls for Christ. He said the best way to know Claret is to read his autobiography and his numerous works. Anthony Mary Claret according to him stood on his feet to preach God’s message in spite of the political challenges he faced during his era. He pointed out that amidst the uncertain political & economic problem we are facing in Nigeria the youths should not allow themselves to be weighed down but to learn from Anthony Mary Claret who never allowed such menaces to ensnare him.
The 2nd paper was presented by Fr Augustine Medaiyedu, Cmf on the topic of the rally: “Living for Christ, Living for Humanity” but he rephrased the theme to be: Living in, Living with, Living through Christ for humanity. In his presentation, Fr. Medaiyedu,Cmf explained that we can live in the presence of the Lord only through prayer and meditation. He also asserted that to live for humanity means putting someone’s interest before ours. To achieve this he said we must try and follow the footsteps of Saint Anthony Mary Claret who followed Christ more closely and firmly. He said as Claret youths, we should try and meditate on the pen picture which can be found in the constitution of the congregation No.9. The presentations was in depth and quite biblical. Both presenters emphasized the need for the youths to love one another sincerely as Jesus loved his disciples to the extent of washing their feet.
They equally advised the youths to exhibit the spirit of service to humanity especially the poor, the depressed, the sick, the dejected and rejected. At the end of the paper presentations the inquisitive youths threw some interesting questions on the presenters. Most of their questions where centered on the life of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, and the apostolate of the congregation. Others ask questions concerning vocation in the congregation particularly in the Delegation.
Another interesting thing that took place during the rally was what we called bearing witness to Christ in our youthfulness (A match through the town of Ilaro). This took place in Ilaro town with the youths singing, dancing and carrying banners with the picture of Anthony Mary Claret. It was so amazing that the people of Ilaro could not hold their emotions as they were thrown into dancing at the singing of the Claret youths. After the match, there was a power point presentation of the life of the Congregation and of the Delegation since inception as presented by Rev. Fr. Jude Igba, Cmf and Matthew Abutu, Cmf. This afforded the youths the opportunity to know how and where the Delegation is working in Nigeria, and the number of personnel.
Sport and Social Night: the 13th was dedicated for sport and social activities. At 4:30 pm was a football match between the boys (shared into 2 groups) while the girls cheered the boys up. After the football came presentation from various parishes. The presentation was colorful, entertaining and educating.
Sunday the 14th of August was the last day of the rally. The thanksgiving mass was presided by Fr Jude Igba,cmf the coordinator of youth team apostolate of the Delegation. Departure was filled with emotion as the youths were finding it so difficult to separate. They can’t wait to see next year’s edition.
Matthew Christopher Abutu,cmf. (Photos)