By Daruwana Daku
The annual Diocesan Youth Day for the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON), Awka Diocese, was celebrated on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, Anambra State.
The multifaceted event which featured Carol of Nine Lessons, march past, and pageantry, had the National President of CYON, Comr. Mary Anok Usang, provincial and other diocesan executives, deanery members, and their executive members in attendance.
Beginning with a concelebrated Holy Mass which was led by the local ordinary of the diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, the 38th Diocesan Youth Day was graced by the National Association of Catholic Corpers, NACC; Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students, NFCS; and Young Catholic Students, YCS.
The bishop during his homily called on the congregation to maintain a high level of spirituality, especially in the season of advent. The prelate who drew his homily from the teaching of Prophet Isaiah, urged the congregation to do away with obstacles that could hinder them from receiving Christ.
While he addressed and welcomed the youths to the cathedral on their 38th Diocesan Youth Day, Bishop Ezeokafor opined that the youths are of greater importance to society.
‘The youths are the heart of society that is why in every right society and in the Church too, more preferences must be given to the young ones because they are the livewire of society. Any society without youths goes backwards,’ the bishop stated.
In his address of welcome, the Diocesan President of CYON, Comr. Augustine Chizoba, thanked the diocesan youths for participating actively in the year’s annual Diocesan Day. Comr. Chizoba, who harped on the need for a convergence of youths in the diocese, thanked their patrons and patronesses, deaneries and parishes, for their continued support to the youths.
The president also recognized the presence of the national president and other national and diocesan executives who saw the need to grace the event in person.
While thanking the Senator representing Anambra Central at the National Assembly, Sir Victor Umeh, for always being there for the youths in the diocese and offering various empowerment schemes, Comr. Chizoba called for support to aid the diocese to expand its empowerment scheme by empowering the youths with tricycles and motor-cycles in 2024 for meaningful engagement.
He also added that one of the major agenda of the diocesan youths in the coming year was to host skill acquisition programme alongside other spiritual and socially-engaging-events.
For his part, the diocesan chaplain of CYON, Awka Diocese, Rev. Paschal Udo, while speaking with Fides, maintained that the year’s event was unique such that it had collaboration with NACC, YCS and NFCS, adding that the combination of the Carol of Nine Lessons and the Diocesan Youth Day was done for the first time.
Speaking on the challenges of directing and leading youths in the dioceses, the priest also commented that the modern day idolatry which he termed, ‘the get-rich-quick syndrome’ and other social vices, formed part of the challenges of leading the youths in the diocese.
The National President of CYON in Nigeria, Miss Mary Anok Usang, who is from the Calabar Arch-Diocese, expressed joy to be part of the youth day and the carol of nine lessons. Miss Usang who noted she had observed few things to take-home to her diocese, appreciated the efforts of CYON, Awka Diocese, for collaborating with three youth groups – YCS, NFCS, and NACC which CYON was an umbrella body, stressing that the presence of the National body of CYON further strengthened the collaboration of Awka Diocese with other youths in Nigeria.
Other guests who graced the events, including one of the patronesses of CYON Awka Diocese, Mrs. Stella Ifeyinwa Enibe, all showered encomiums to the youths and encouraged them to continue raising the bar.
The event which featured Cathedraticum from the 14 deaneries of the parish, had among other activities; a Carol of Nine Lessons, march past and pageantry. Awka, Ebenebe and Neni deaneries took first, second and third respectively in the march past, while Ugwuoba captured the first position in the pageantry.
Highlights of the event included cutting of cake, cultural dance and welcome song.