ARCHBISHOP’S HOMILY AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE Second SYNOD ( May 22,2016)
My Lord Bishops, the Revered brothers and sisters in the Lord. Our Celebration
is a very unique one. Our reflection, I have decided to share into three parts:
The first one of course is gratitude, thanking God for the privilege of
celebrating yet another Synod in our own time and ministry. Thanking God for
your presence and your active participation in the life of the body of Christ.
Thanking God for today, for this special weather, Yesterday it was raining all
through, at night it was raining, this morning it is still raining from Nkpor junction
to Borromeo backwards but after All Hallows the rain seizes till here to the Niger.
Let us praise the Lord
So to God himself who gives all these blessings be glory, honour, praise and
thanksgiving now and forever. Amen
The second one is on the feast, the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the third
one is on the Synod, on the feast I will summarize by saying let us share the life of
the Trinity by imitating the Trinity. What we have read in the first reading, in the
second reading, in the gospel, they narrated more or less the action of the Trinity,
on the world, on things and on us but these readings have not explained the Trinity,
why they are three and yet there is only one God. So the Trinity is not what we can
logically, anthropologically and mathematically Configure and explain away, the
Trinity is what we feel, what we enjoy, the Trinity created us, the Trinity sustains
us, the Trinity hears our prayers, the Trinity gives us blessing and we from the
scripture, the Father created the world and sent the redeem the world that is to
continue the work of the Father The why Christ told his disciples and tells us “my
Father goes on working and so do l”, so he continued the work of the Father. The
Son sent the Holy Spirit to perfect the world and renew the face of the earth and to
remind us of those things we might have forgotten and energize us to put into
action what we have learnt, so the Spirit continues the work of the Son which is the
work of the Father.
What we can learn from the Trinity is that in the Trinity there is no division, in the
Trinity there is no rivalry, in the Trinity there is unity, in the Trinity there is love, it
is a Trinity of love, it is a Trinity of unity, it is a Trinity of co-operation, it is a
Trinity of progress, it is not a Trinity of friction, of rivalry, of competition and so
on. Let us learn from the Trinity the life of love in our Families, in our Institutions
and the world will be a better place and the world will be a happier place and the
world will be a glorious place, may the Trinity bless us with grace to live the life of
the Trinity, may the Trinity bless us, enable us to imitate and learn from the Trinity,
may the life of the Trinity empower us to live the life of love. Through Christ our
The third one is on the synod; I will summarize it by saying
✓ Why Synod?
✓ What is Synod?
✓ What is the Value?
✓ Why must we have it?
We will find out. In the first centuries of the church's history, the words Synod and
Council were interchangeable, however while ecumenical gatherings were called
councils, like the council of the Church in 385AD, the gatherings of the bishops
from the province or regions as well as gatherings of the bishops and the clergy of
his diocese are usually referred to as Synods. In the first centuries of Christianity as
we have already said, the words Synods and Councils were interchangeable.
The earliest recorded gathering of Bishops to discuss doctrine and ecclesiastical
policies was that of the Apostles and presbyters with Ss. Paul and Barnabas in the
meeting often called the council of Jerusalem in the year 54AD. In the earliest
Centuries of the Church, Synods were dominated by the Clergy namely: the
Bishops and the Priests, today it is not so, Events have evolved considerably for
the good of the body of Christ, Today, we have the Episcopal Synod or Synod of
bishops and we have the Diocesan Synod. The Synod of bishops is a meeting of
group of bishops from a section of the universal Church or from the entire world
convoked by and under the chairmanship of the Holy Father, the Pope or his
accredited representatives usually called his delegates and this is for the purpose
of deliberating on some vital issues that concern the Church. Only the Pope can
convoke the Episcopal Synod that is the Synod of bishops, while in the case of the
Diocesan Synod only the Diocesan Bishop can convoke a Synod in his diocese.
When the diocesan synod is so convoked, the selected Priests, Religious and other
Christian Faithful gather for the meeting under the chairmanship of the same
diocesan bishop or his delegate.
In this very Synod, as the chairman, since the law stipulates that the Diocesan Bishop
who convokes is at the same time the chairman but he has the right to delegate I
have therefore delegated our beloved Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh as the chairman of
this particular Synod. However, the inaugural council called in the year 1215
decreed that Synods should be held annually. So it is the tradition of the Church
since the year 1215 and the council of Trent upheld the same decree. But the 1917
code of canon law mandated that legislative power rests on the local ordinary, the
diocesan bishop. Other members of his particular church, other bishops if they are
there, the clergy, the lay faithful, the religious, all of them come together to assist
him, guide him and facilitate his making those laws so that he will not make laws
that are utopian or unrealistic. So the Synod is there to assist the bishop and the
bishop with the Synod members come up with guidelines, They legislate on issues
concerning a particular Church, they don't make laws that go contrary to the
universal laws of the Church but they can apply the universal laws to their local
context. The Synod is done in the context of Prayer, so that the wisdom of God and
the Spirit of God will guide our deliberations and decisions. The delegates pray
together, they reflect, deliberate on issues and then decide as guided by the Holy
Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth and The Holy Spirit
guides each diocesan Synod if they will dispose themselves through faith and
prayer that is what we have gathered here to do. We therefore ask for your prayers.
During this Synod time is devoted for praying so that the Church will continue to
realize that oneness for which Christ prayed. Today and in this Synod, we pray that
the Synod will usher in a new face of greatness and glory in our lives. We pray that
the synod will bring in the flourishing of the kingdom of Christ in our midst. May
the Synod enkindle in us a new face of missionary activity and breakthrough, may
the Synod activate in a new life of Holiness and dedication to God in each one of
us, may this Synod usher in the time of blessings of body and soul on each and
every one of us, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace be with you !
Most Rev. VALERIAN M. OKEKE
Archbishop of Onitsha