The Young Christian Workers (YCW) Movement Nigeria Region on Monday trooped out in a peace march to join their colleagues worldwide in commemoration of the 2016 Workers Day celebration.
The event with the theme, ‘Arise O Youths for the Change – Say NO to corruption, cultism, political thuggery, kidnapping and societal ills, started with Adoration and Holy Mass at St. Joseph ‘De Guardian of the Redeemer Parish’, Agodo-Egbe in Lagos Mainland and rounded up with a peace march from Egbe and climaxed with a grand finale at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ire-Akari Estate, Isolo.
In the Homily titled Be fruitful and multiply…!! delivered by His Grace, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins DD, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos through the YCW to all Christian workers in its 53 member countries worldwide,the Archbishop said with this statement, God inaugurated a working time table for man, whom He created in His own image and likeness now sharing (and continuing in) the creative power of this same God.
Represented by the YCW Isolo Deanery Chaplain, Rev Fr. Mathew Ogunyase, His Grace charged the Workers:
“This invitation and injunction is a call to enhance the work of creation and not to destroy or watch them being destroyed. Our theme this year 2016 puts succinctly ‘Arise O Youth for the Change!’’
Here, Archbishop Martins took the enthusiastic youths into a bit of history:
‘On May 1st 1955 during a public audience granted to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers (CAI), whose members gathered that day in St. Peter’s square to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their society and to pledge anew their loyalty to the Social Programme of the Church, Pope Pius XII instituted the liturgical feast of St. Joseph the Worker and assigned this feast-day to the 1stday of May.
“The Pope assured his audience and the working people of the entire world that ‘you have at your side a Shepherd, a defender and a Father’. St. Joseph belonged to the working class and he bore the burdens of poverty patiently for himself and the Holy Family in a life of faithful performance of everyday duties’ (cf. p.144, Saint Companions for Each Day).’
“St. Joseph left an example for all those who must gain bread by the toil of their hands,” Archbishop Martins told the youths.
“Joseph taught us the dignity of labour and became a model for every Christian worker to attend to their work not out of gain or what it offers in monetary terms but out of a sense of contentment, satisfaction and an invitation to enhance creation.
“Athanasius whom we remember today on the other hand was the great Archbishop of Alexandria in Egypt for 46 years. He was an epitome of resilience and determination to stand for what is true in the teachings of Christ rather than compromise in the face of persecution and therefore became a chief defender of the integrity of the Catholic Faith.“What about us? Are we guilty at doing the work of God or serving the God of work? Our 1st reading provides us with an example of a worker, Lydia a trader and a businesswoman. She is described as a seller of purple goods and a worshipper of God.
“This is providential; therefore she represents the attitude and disposition that should accompany work that may be considered as successful – not in terms of multiplication of branches or money. Her business or trade did not be-cloud people’s judgment of her as a worshipper of God.
“Can the same be said of us? Lydia’s attitude invites us to be open and to open our hearts to the Will of God, that God will befriend us so we would be able to bring our household, customers and indeed our family to Him at all times.”
Of the Nigerian worker
“The Nigerian worker is plagued by many challenges today. These challenges have in turn defined the life, attitude and even his/her relationship to God and things that pertain to God. It is very unfortunate that we invest so much in work/business at the detriment of our health, family life and the salvation of our soul. The popular slogan is thatman must survive or man must wack! The desire to survive and make the difference among his/her peers is the readiness to do anything and everything to be relevant.
“Lydia, Athanasius and Joseph are our examples in today’s celebration who all stood for dignity and integrity of labour in their own way. What do you stand for? Even when you go marching out there, remember that it goes beyond the march, it is your individual action at witnessing to the work of God and not the God of work.
“As we celebrate and commemorate worker’s day, each catholic worker here present must resolve to learn something from the heroes of our faith, that work and business are important but family and salvation are a necessity that we cannot short-change for our work or business. May St. Joseph intercede for us, as well as St. Athanasius so that we may stand for our faith and not compromise because of gain. God be with you!!!”
In her goodwill message from Rome to Christian Workers under the YWC umbrella, General Secretary of the ICYCW, Ms Monica Wanjiru congratulated her colleagues and announced that “Major strides have been achieved through the efforts of our predecessors and the world is looking at us as a source of responsible leadership, a beacon of hope and a promise for the future.
“As a call to take our responsibility in the changing society, Pope Francis reminds us that we should not sit on the balcony and watch things happen in the streets. Rather, we should go into the streets and make things happen.
“On this day, let us walk together in the step of faith, hope and love and renew our commitment towards our mission as Young Christian Workers worldwide.
“The world needs us. You and I are the difference the world needs. Change starts with You and Me. Together, let us continue making and being the difference,” Wanjiru concluded.
The body’s outgoing Regional President (Lagos Region), Mr. Andrew Esan in his address particularly drew attention of the boisterous and exited YCW members and guests to the eight-hour-movement viz, the eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest, underlining the dignity in the labour of man all over the world.
“Though International Worker’s Day means so many things to so many people, but as a religious movement, it should be a time to take stock of all we have laboured for in a year in order to vet our how, why, when and what we achieved.
“Today, we must realise that doing same things repeatedly while expecting different results is termed capital insanity of the highest order.
“Irrespective of the down trending economy, we should face it head long by the power of God and our burning desire to succeed. In times like these when youths flee from our country to do drugs, robbery and kidnapping etc, and when asked why, their reply are always ‘our country and leaders have failed, so we are avenging with guns and violence’.
“But our own reply in the face of anarchy, doom and economic comatose should be ‘SUCCESS’ because ‘SUCCESS (in individual capacity) IS THE BEST REVENGE’, and the two surest places to expect success are the WOMB and the ALTAR; even when the womb fails, the altar will never fail, for if there is a man to pray, then there is a God to answer. Let us on this Labour Day carry out an operation PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens in Nigeria.
The outgoing President recognised fathers and brethren in the faith who have been of immeasurable assistance to the course. Under the Legacy May Day 2016 Presidential Awards,
Excellent Leadership award went to the Very Rev. Livinus Ukah (YCW) Regional Chaplain; Most Leadership award went to Chukwudi Ezeh CYC (Head Regional Training Committee Administration); Pauline Ebonugwo Gaadi (Regional Vice President) received Excellent Support award while the youngest star of the day, 7-year-old Michelle Olagoke (alias Mimi International) bagged YCW Young Ambassador Award.
Also, Enterprise award went to super secretary, Robert O. Obinna (Regional General Secretary); Outstanding Executive awards to Elias Ifara and Faustina Onumah (Assistant Regional Gen Secretary) respectively.
36-years-old Faustina Chizoba Onumah from Ezinite Local Government Area of Mbaise in Imo State, works as PA to CEO of a private firm of tax consultants and auditors.
Looking optimistic at the onerous task before Christian Workers in the transformation of leadership in the future, Faustina admitted that governance is not a tea party as many may want to believe.
“I believe we really can make the difference if we can remove selfishness. Some people go into governance for selfish reasons, but if my generation can have that sense of oneness and remove selfish interests, then I believe we can make that change and restore sanity, sanctity and the fear of God in governance if we are given the chance.”
What does YCW mean to the youths?
“Personally, YCW has made me become bold; not to speak anyhow. Today I can, without fear say NO to corruption, cultism, political thuggery, kidnapping and societal ills as our theme has spelt out.
Money carries an overwhelming spirit with it. Does Faustina think her generation will see liquid cash in the magnitude of what our leaders could not resist and stand their ground?
“Well, everybody is different. I am not saying if a member of YCW becomes the President of any nation tomorrowthings will change automatically because money has that kind of influence. But I think credibility, discipline, love for fellow human being and above all, the fear of God are personal qualities, some inherent and some cultivated over time. While I am not holding brief for everyone, I believe we will make an impact. With our training and grooming in the Christian faith, I am confident we won’t make the blunder of this breed of leaders we have in the world today.”
The YCW Nigerian Region is an affiliate of the International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (ICYCW), Rome and is registered with the Pontifical and Archdiocesan Laity Council.
Founded in 1925 and canonically recognised by the Holy Pope Pius XI same year, it was
introduced in Nigeria in 1957 and brought to the Archdiocese of Lagos in 1966, YCW has been raising young adults who, by reflection and action, attempt to change
and improve their lives and society.
It is a movement which values the dignity and worth of each young person, enables them to challenge social exclusion and take action to bring about positive change in their homes, workplaces and social lives.
Its 53 international member countries include 23 countries in Africa, five in Asia, nine in Europe, 10 in Latin America and six in the Middle East.