Nigeria hosts the 1st African Congress of Dominican Youths

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First African Congress of Dominican Youths
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To the glory of God the 1st ever African Congress of Dominican Youths took place at the Adoration Monastery, Oyun Village, Kwara State in Nigeria from July 28 to August 3 2014. The Dominican Young Hearts Movement (DYHM) used the celebration of their 6th National Congress and 3rd General Active Members Assembly to invite other DYM groups in Africa to set up together a regional structure that will facilitate interaction, formation and common mission and voice for Africa. The theme of the Congress was: Re-discovering the enduring treasures of Dominican spirituality: Towards a Personal Transformation for Mission in Africa.

There were 90 participants from 7 African countries namely: Nigeria, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Central Africa Republic, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Senegal. Also present were the Socius to the Master for Africa, fr. Gabriel Samba OP; the Socius to the Master for Apostolic Life, fr. Anthony Prakash OP; the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph the Worker Nigeria & Ghana, fr. Charles Ukwe OP; the Provincial Promoter for Lay Dominicans, fr. Oluyemi Taiwo OP; the Coordinator of DSA (Dominican Sisters Africa), Sr. Faustina Jimoh OP; the newly elected Coordinator of the International Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities (ICLDF), Prof. Adenike Emeke OPL; the Coordinator of the International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM), Mr. Jose Alberto de Blas as well as some friars and sisters.

The grace-filled and exciting encounter for Dominican Youths all over Africa began on July 29 with an Opening Mass presided over by His Lordship, Rev Dr. Ayo-Maria Atoyebi OP, Bishop of Ilorin Diocese, Nigeria. This was followed by a very colourful opening ceremony to the delight of all. It was also used as an opportunity to launch the 1st edition of the Wellsprings magazine, a publication of DYHM, Nigeria meant to share the richness and the depths of our rich Dominican treasures with other youths.

Serious business took off the following days (July 30 -31) starting with reports from the six groups in Nigeria and the other countries. This gave the delegates a clear picture of the current realities of the groups in terms of how they live out the pillars of Dominican Life (using the SWOT- Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat analysis as guide). Well prepared and highly enriching papers were also delivered by the Socius for Apostolic life; the founder of DYHM, Mr. George Adesanya; the DSA coordinator; the Coordinator of ICDLF; the Coordinator of IDYM; and the Director of Verbum Networks, the ICT Company of the Nigerian Province, Fr. Gabriel Avbenake OP. There was also a talk on "800 years Jubilee of the Dominican Order" by the Provincial Promoter of the Jubilee, fr. Augustine Agwulonu OP. Having received the reports from the groups and papers delivered by competent Dominicans, group works were assigned and later in the day the participants moved out in two large buses to take some fresh air with outdoor sports at the Ilorin city stadium! It was fun having two large competing teams (provincial and socius).

On Friday, August 1, after breakfast and briefing by the Provincial Promoter of Lay Dominicans, all the participants left for a Juvenile Reformatory in Ilorin to experience what it means to be sent and to whom we are sent. The Day of Mission was followed in the evening by election of DYHM National Council (Nigeria) and the next day, August 2 was the constitution of the African Congress and the election of an African Council. The following emerged officers at the respective elections:

National Council of DYHM, Nigeria:
National Coordinator – Isioma Diji
Deputy National Coordinator I – Paul Sanu
Deputy National Coordinator II – Fr. Alex Okonduugba OP
National Scribe – Maria-Felicity Ezeh
National Syndic – Valentine Ejiofor
Deputy National Syndic – Roseben Anyanwu
National webmaster – Stephen Enyidede
 
African Council Members:
African Coordinator – Isioma Diji (Nigeria)
Deputy African Coordinator – fr. Emmanuel Avonyo OP (Senegal)
Scribe / Promoter for Communication – Alice Zanga (Cameroun)
Promoter for Mission – Melanie Ebah (Cote d’Ivoire)
Promoter for Formation – Paul-de Dieu Panguibadje (Central Africa Republic).

The Congress gradually came to a close with a cultural night where participants were all gorgeously dressed in their cultural attires and several cultural displays were made. In a joyful Spirit of thanksgiving in our hearts, the Congress came to an end with a Closing Mass presided over by the Prior Provincial, fr. Charles Ukwe OP on Sunday 3rd August, 2014. The Socius for Africa, fr. Gabriel Samba OP encouraged the youths to place priority on communication and to prepare themselves very well for the other upcoming jubilee celebrations!

Many thanks to the Master of the Order, the Socius for Africa, the Prior Provincial, the moderators and translators, and in a special way our dearest nuns, a community of cloistered religious women dedicated to contemplative prayer through perpetual adoration of the Eucharistic Lord in the spirit of St Dominic de Guzman. Without you, this Congress would have been difficult to host. Thank you so much!

The Lord has done great things for us in Africa, indeed we are glad! We look forward to a greater and fruitful participation of properly formed African Dominican Youths in the Mission of the Order. Watch out for more news on this great event!

Isioma Diji

 

(21 August 2014)