The desire to have a family group in Nigeria has been an age long aspiration for the Schoenstatt Fathers community. The dream became a reality on the 12th of May 2021 when a group of five couples came together to begin the first Schoenstatt family league group.The couples were later joined by two more couples, bringing the total number to seven.The couple’s names are Ambrose and Victoria Adah, Roland and Josephine Ogwuni, Pascal and Chisom Odinde, Winston-Churchill and Grace Okafor, Jude and Genevieve Mba, Ifeanyi and Ijeoma Ugwu; Francis and Jacinta Akabueze.
At the moment, the group is still at an introductory level. The objective at this level is to build a close bond and Intimacy among the spouses and foster community spirit among the group. The couple hour, monthly meeting, quarterly Retreat and family picnic are the programs drawn up for this educative and formative process.
The couples are fundamentally formed in the school of Mary and the pedagogy of Fr Joseph Kentenich, our Father and Founder to be free and firm leader personalities, good and holy couples, responsible parents to their children, and Schoenstatt instruments at the service of the Church in Nigeria and the Nigerian society.
FIRST MAIDEN SCHOENSTATT COUPLES RETREAT
The first maiden retreat was held on the 7th of August 2021 at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, Sangotedo, Lagos, Nigeria. The retreat had in attendance six couples:
From L-R: Ifeanyi and Ijeoma Ugwu, Winston-Churchill and Grace Okafor, Roland and Josephine Ogwuni, Francis and Jacinta Akabueze. Ambrose and Victoria Adah, and Pascal and Chisom Odinde.
At the retreat, the family had the opportunity to pray the Rosary together at the beginning, then the talks/input. The first talk was delivered by Fr. Claudius Uwaoma, ISch, and he reflected on the topic ‘God created you for me’, in his reflection, Father made the couples to deeply understand that they are special gifts of God, made for each other. He invited the couples to see themselves in this way in their daily relationship with each other as husband and wife.
The second input was given by Fr. Jude Eze, ISch. His reflection was on ‘Authority and Submission in marriage and family life’. He made the couples to first understand the inherent value of the human person. He stated that men and women are of equal dignity before God because they are of the same nature as humans. The difference in gender is not demeaning, we were created male and female in the order of nature for a purpose and the fulfilment of a divine plan. He, therefore, invited the couples to first see themselves as human beings rather than objects or things to be treated or used according to our personal whims and caprices. Each person whether male or female has been given a special role to fulfil according to our gender orientations. He affirmed the divine place of husband as the head of the family and the divine invitation to wives to be submissive to their husband. He cautioned that this is not an invitation for a superior and subordinate relationship, or Master and Slave relationship in Marriage.
The mission of the husband as Head of the family is to love the wife as Christ loves the Church; that’s the self-giving of Christ to the church. ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13). He invited the couples to imitate the Nazareth Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. According to Father Joseph Kentenich, the Father’s authority in the family is primary and fundamental. He exhorts, that the Father authority should reflect the fatherhood of God the Father, which is love expressed in total self-giving for his family. Like the Blessed Mother Mary, the mothers out of reverence for Christ should receive this love with love and protect the father’s authority.
Thereafter, the families had their couple Time, this was a very important moment for them, and they gave testimonies to the great impact and blessings this moment brings into their marriage. Afterwards, there was an opportunity for confessions, Adoration and later the Holy Mass. During the Mass the couples renewed their marriage vows.
In all, it was a reviving and enriching moment for each of the couples that participate. The testimonies of the couples gives hope for the success of the family branch here in Nigeria. Many thanks to the Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ for the steps in our development thus far. We invite the whole Schoenstatt Family to accompany us with contributions to the capital of grace and prayers.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
United in the Covenant of Love,
Fr. Jude Eze, ISch.