Today, the Universal Church is marking the 51st celebration of the World Communications Day. I consider it a rare privilege to welcome you all to this most auspicious occasion, whose theme is “Fear Not, I am with you”(Is 43:5). Specifically, the thrust of the theme is centered on the idea “Communicating Hope and Trust in Our Time.”
The times are bad indeed. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from Abeokuta to Zamfara, it is crises, violence, war, hunger, and discrimination, all the way. The 21st century appears to be having the greatest challenges of all times. The Fourth century had the unsettling spectre of dogmatic aberrations; the twelfth had to contend with the determined efforts to reclaim lost grounds from the Muslims through the Crusades: the 20th witnessed the apocalyptic holocaust in two world wars that claimed millions of lives. Now, our century, the 21st century has its peculiar challenges as indicated above. Added to this, is the worrisome implications of another global crisis in which weapons of mass destruction will rule the waves. The times are bad, indeed.
Fortunately, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has charted a course for us in his message on this year’s World Communication Day. He says that he is “convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). The pope proposes that “all of us [should] work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.”
It is therefore on a scenario such as this that this year’s World Communications Day demands an urgent and desperate attention. What can social communications do to ameliorate or even to prevent a catastrophe which is imminent? How can the world be a better place through the intervention of journalists and social communications? This is the task before all of us in today’s event.
I am happy that the paper presentation will offer at least an insight into these problems and the way forward. I urge you all to be patient till the end of the event.
It is here that the role of the media looms very large in the protection and sustenance of world peace. Traditionally, the press is saddled with the onerous job of informing, educating and entertaining. Information, like we know, is a very powerful weapon in today’s world. The saying is true, that one who is not informed is deformed.
Therefore the media have to step up their role in the provision of accurate and usable information to assist people in making informed decisions and take proactive measures.
In the same measure, education and entertainment are indispensable for human existence. The digital age is one that fosters and elevates education and entertainment to their loftiest pedestals. The press must take the bull by the horns and make hay while the sun shines. Today’s event will chart the way forward.
Before I take my seat, let me inform you that come August 28, this diocese will inaugurate, on a stable basis an annual memorial lecture series in honour of one of Igboland’s most illustrious and highly celebrated professors, the late Fr Prof Edmund Emefiena Ikenga-Metuh. The annual intellectual harvest will be known as “Professor Ikenga-Metuh’s Annual Memorial Lecture Series.”
Late Very Rev Fr Prof Ikenga-Metuh hailed from Nnewi. He died in the fatal Kenyan Airways plane crash on Sunday January 17 2000 off the coast of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) on his way back after representing Nigeria in Summit of the International Mission Studies which was held in South Africa. His remains were identified by Fr Donatus Ikeh and buried in Onitsha on Wednesday February 16, 2000. May he rest in peace.
Professor Metuh was a prolific writer, who wrote over twenty major works and produced close to 300 articles published in international journals and Books of Reading. It is therefore proper that the intellectual ferment created by this cerebral and accomplished scholar be kept aflame, hence the inauguration of a lecture series in his memory.
Already, plans are at an advanced stage for this event. Let me use the opportunity of this World Communications Day to invite you all on that day. We expect academic luminaries from the four corners of the compass. It will be a veritable forum for intellectual and scholastic brainstorming.
Finally gentlemen and ladies, the Catholic Communications has its fair share of challenges of course, I have no intention to bore you with those challenges for now. Only to remind you that the shoe pinches. Perhaps, we shall talk about this on another day.
Today, we are marking the World Communications Day with focus on communicating hope and trust in our time. Once again, brothers and sisters, how can we do this? It is our sanguine hope that today’s event will produce a blueprint, even if it is a tip of the iceberg. Your contributions today might be of epochal importance.
Without wasting much of your time, permit me to wish you most fruitful deliberations. Be assured of our prayers and best regards.
Thank you, and welcome to the Nnewi Catholic Diocese, the Family of God on Mission.
God bless you.
Very Rev Fr Hyginus Aghaulor
(Director of Communications)
Sunday May 28, 2017