Training of Lay Catechists and New Evangelization in Igbo Land Nigeria, Problems and Prospects

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2018-08-09
Language: English
Faculty: 2 Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät
Department: Katholische Theologie
Advisor: Fuchs, Ottmar (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2018-07-27
DDC Classifikation: 230 - Christianity and Christian theology
Keywords: Katechese , Nigeria
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Regarding the Catholic Church in Igbo land, there are variegated opinions on the challenges and prospects of her continued existence, nay, and growth. Some have identified syncretism as the greatest challenge, proffering authenticity of religious mind as the way out. For others, vocation boom is the greatest prospect and as such, proper harnessing of the candidates’ intention is the challenge. For many more, natural religious consciousness is the vantage point and proper inculturation would set the stage for a greater future. Many still identify the generous hearts of the Igbo people towards the religious leaders and functionaries as the greatest sign of hope and suggest that caution is to be observed not to offend this sensibility. The list can go on endlessly. There is a common denominator in these opinions and findings. This is precisely that something must be done to sustain and improve on the positive status quo. The single word that can describe this something that must be done is Catechesis. Catechesis cannot be possible without agents. Catechetical agents cannot be effective without training. Standing on this background, this research is captioned: Training of Lay Catechists and New Evangelization in Igboland Nigeria: Problems and Prospects. The research desires, while keeping attention on the ordained catechists on which there are deluge of literatures already, to underscore the training of lay catechists, an area that seems to receive less attention until now but without less significance. In doing this, the work after initial clarifications begins from the time of the arrival of the Catholic Church in Igbo land, through the pioneering work of the early missionaries to Igbo land. In the background building is also a study of the research carried out in Germany on poverty. This study was necessitated by the great challenge posed by poverty to Catechesis and the training of lay catechist. The dynamics of poverty, Christianity and catechesis having been studied, the work examined the Igbo people and their culture, looking critically at the prospects and challenges. The two documents of the Church, Catechesi Tradendae and the Instrumentum Laboris for the XII ordinary Synod for the New Evangelization were reviewed with a view to building the training of lay catechists in Igbo land on orthodox foundation. This training is then discussed in details, beginning from a look at what is on ground already and how we can move forward. At the end of the research, we made some recommendations and conclusions. In addition to the introduction, the work has six (6) chapters. In the introduction section, after restating the indispensable place of catechesis in the transmission of the faith, it is laid bare that the church in Igbo land has both problems and prospects. Syncretism and backsliding to Traditional religions in difficult times, shows that the faith has not really taken root in the heart of majority of the people. The ground-breaking success being achieved by Pentecostal Churches, whose members are mostly drawn from the Catholic Church also portends danger for the future of the Catholic Church in Igbo land. However, one looks immediately at the openness of the people to religion as a positive sign of great hope. The people still come to church in great numbers and still have respect for the teachings of the Church, especially those taught by ministers who are also witnesses. The training of lay catechists is a means to improve this catechetical apostolate. The lay catechist in respect to his closeness to the people has great advantage in knowing where it pinches, being himself one of those pinched. If he is trained, he would go a long way to improve the catechetical result of the Church in Igbo land. The work in Chapter one studied the dynamics of poverty, Christianity, and catechesis. Christianity is an inclusive religion and is concerned about the wellbeing of all: the rich and poor alike. For effective catechesis, the economic and social condition of the catechized is of paramount importance. This research is carried out in Germany, in a developed country. Thus, the researcher harnessed this advantage to study the research on poverty carried out by German scholars in order to be equipped to offer reasoned insight on the management of poverty also in Igbo land. The catechist and the catechized are all products of their environment and are affected by the social status quo. This chapter being as it were background building, studied also the catechist and his relationship to God, time, fellow man and to the world. Through the introduction and this chapter, the operative concepts are clarified, and the background fully built. It is not enough to lament that there are challenges to the Igbo church. It demands explication. This was our task in chapter two. But prior to this description, we undertook the description of who the lay catechists are and their relationship to the challenges of Igbo Church. Then we described in details the challenges of the Church in Igbo land mentioning the numerous areas where cultural practices are at loggerheads with Christian teaching. After this chapter, it becomes very clear that the church in Igbo land is in serious need of training lay catechists who will live among the people and use the variously learnt pedagogy and methodology in furthering the catechetical apostolate. Chapter three and four discuss Catechesi Tradendae of Pope John Paul II (1979) and the Instrumentum Laboris for the XII ordinary Synod for the New Evangelization respectively. These documents are on catechesis in general but made great allusion to the training of lay catechists. The evident point is that the training of lay catechists has remained in the heart of the Church right from its origin. We discussed the various areas where these documents made references to the training of lay catechists and proposed the implementation of the views therefrom. The major discussion of this work is in chapter five. Moving from the description of the present state of lay catechists in Igbo land today, the discussion takes us through various types of catechists there are, and qualities needed of a catechist. Then comes the discussion of the training of lay catechists. Pope John Paul II has proposed in the Pastores Dabo Vobis, an integral formation for priests. This write up agrees that similar training is required for a lay catechist. As such, there was discussion on the spiritual, theological, intellectual, cultural, liturgical, catechetical, human training of lay catechists. In the final chapter, six, we made recommendations. This writer believes that the establishment and maintenance of more catechetical institutes is a desideratum today. Lay catechists can then receive appropriate training in these institutes. It is after such training that the lay catechists’ role in catechesis can be formally defined. Once this is done, their remuneration could be better organized. Priests also need to be trained to work with the lay catechists. When this is done, it is the humble belief of this researcher that catechetical apostolate in Igbo land would be improved. Hyginus Ikechukwu Eke

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