Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada
Nigeria is going through a time of trial and horror – and not only since the attacks by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. For years now a succession of conflicts has torn at this vast West African nation. Everywhere, among ordinary people, there is a longing for peace, and the Catholic Church for her part is doing everything in her power to promote this peace and reconciliation.
During the second Africa Synod, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the immense importance of strengthening peace, justice and development in Nigeria. And Father Michael Oyedare, who has responsibility for the Bible apostolate in his diocese, can also see this necessity. For this reason, together with Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the diocese of Oyo, he is organizing training workshops for the lay pastoral workers who do so much to ease the burden on the 39 priests of the diocese.
Within the diocese of Oyo there are 45,000 Catholics, among a population of 2 million Muslims. Most of the Catholic faithful earn their living as peasant farmers or harvest workers on the citrus, maize, yam, cassava and cocoa plantations of the region. Their earnings come to around $10 per day – barely enough to survive on. Many of the faithful “really do their best,” insists Father Michael. However, it is important, he believes, to strengthen the community leaders in their faith and train them to engage in interreligious dialogue, so that they can be “good ambassadors for the Church.” The idea of the workshops is to equip the participants to do just this.
But since the diocese itself has very few resources, Father Michael and Bishop Emmanuel have turned to ACN for financial support. We have promised a contribution of $7 500 for the practical implementation of these workshops.
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