By Juliana Uzoka
The Saint Augustine’s Major Seminary has drawn accolades from the Federal Government for its pivotal role in impacting good morals, sound education, health care system delivery and unifying communal life to the nation.
Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who made this assertion during the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Major Seminary in Jos, on Thursday, emphasises the importance of the spiritual principle of the Seminary, which he said plays a great role in shaping the destiny of nations.
Osinbajo further lauded the institution which has produced about 1500 Priests the past 50 years, for the teaching of “sound doctrine especially that practices of our faith that emphasises sacrifice over supremacy.”
The Vice President also drew an inference from the speech made by President Muhammadu Buhari, on the occasion of the Bishops conference in Abuja, on his desire for a united front in freedom of worship and peaceful co-existence, saying each state governor is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that it enforces that within their jurisdiction.
Highlighting how inter-related the multifaceted role the seminary plays in shaping society and cementing relationships, the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, pledged his administration’s support in furthering the cause of the institution.
In addition, Lalong said he would mobilise his colleagues who made it to the occasion to donate to the renovation of the old institution.
In delivering the Homily, Arch Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan outlined measures that should be taken to ensure that the Priests make themselves more accessible to the people, as well as embarking on massive evangelism.
Cardinal Onaiyekan further advised that Priests should at all times be bridge builders, and orchestrate peaceful atmosphere within communities rife with religious intolerance.
Likewise, in elucidating the role of government in peaceful co-existence, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto State gave the measure by which it must subsist.
“Government has no business preferring one religion to the other. The role of government is to protect lives and properties of citizens and to respect and protect their constitutional rights.
“One critical freedom that every government must strive to protect is the liberty of citizens to exercise their respective faiths; whether they are Christians or Muslims and others in a lawful manner, without fear or hindrance, and to prosecute those who use religion as an excuse to destroy homes, destroy schools and destroy places of worship.
“When government fails in these duties, they must then assist in the rebuilding of destroyed places of worship, and giving full restitution to all destroyed and lost properties,” Bishop Kukah said, quoting President Buhari.
The host Bishop, Municipal Bishop of Jos, and the President Catholic Bishop Conference West Africa and Anglophone, Ignatius Kaigama, while expressing his appreciation to his guests for gracing the event, said their actions would further add to the development of Northern Nigeria.
Bishop Kaigama seized the occasion to announce the forthcoming gathering of Catholic Bishops all over the country to Taraba State, in September 2017.
Some of the dignitaries that graced the 50th anniversary of the St. Augustine’s Major Seminary were the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, who represented chairman of the occasion, Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe; the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, spoke on behalf of his colleagues; while the Deputy governors of Nassarawa, Mr Silas Ali Agara and Benue state, Engr. Benson Abounu, Rectors, former Rectors and teachers of the Seminary, were also amongst the dignitaries.
The Saint Augustines Major Seminary has produced two Arch Bishops, 20 Bishops and over 1,400 Priests.
The theme of the Jubilee is: Remembering our past, shaping our future.