A KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED TO THE PROVINCIAL MEETING OF CATHOLIC WOMEN ORGANIZATION OF THE KADUNA ECCLESIATICAL PROVINCE HELD IN SOKOTO ON SEPTEMBER 25- 27, 2015
I welcome all of you to the city of Sokoto and in a special way thank God for the traveling mercies He has granted to all of you. We are most gratified by the fact that you found us worthy to be honoured with hosting your meeting. We hope that you will find your visit very much of an eye opener. Those of you who are already familiar with Sokoto, we welcome you but those who are here for the first time, we offer you a double welcome.
We truly encouraged by your support which was demonstrated when you found our daughter and mother, worthy of being elected to head your organisation. I am confident that the confidence you have reposed on us through her will not be in vain because we in Sokoto are the first beneficiaries of her ability and competence.
Your visit is an act of solidarity that is of great significance because since the outbreak of Boko Haram, despite our relative peace here, I have found that many of our people, including Catholics tend to balk at the thought of coming to Sokoto for fear of Boko Haram. In this age when the world is turning and turning and things are falling apart, we need to renew our faith in the holy Family who themselves experienced the trauma of homelessness. We are pleased because in a way, your visit is a source of great encouragement to us. Please, in this same spirit of solidarity, bear with us, our short comings, our weather, our poor accommodation and so on. But, the most important thing that nothing else can offer you is our warm hearts which we openly offer to you in love.
Your visit is coming closely after we hosted the Provincial Laity Council last month. Together, we hope that we can harmonize our views and pastoral plans to energise our Church. These are difficult times for us as Christians but they are also a time of great promise for us. We must, as St Paul says, persevere these trials bring hope and this hope does not disappoint (Rom 5:5). We are confident of God’s presence among us and, again we say with St. Paul, if God be for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31).
As you gather, please focus on the theme of the family with greater concern. The family is under threat all over the world. I am not sure that our concern should be with homosexual marriages or even such issues are divorced and remarried Catholics and communion. These are problems quite alright but they are not immediately at our door steps. We have our own immediate problems which you as Catholic mothers need to focus, discuss, think and pray about.
You Mothers are the cornerstones of the family. A family can manage without a father and we have seen many brave women raise up their children even amidst the greatest threats of war and poverty. So, women are special and they are the wheel around which everything turns. I usually give a simple example of how and why women are the anchor of the family. When your husband is sick, you cannot go to work because you have to care for him and nurse him back to health, even if you know nothing of medicine, you are experts in the medicine of love. When any of the children is sick, you cannot go to work because again, you have to nurse them back to health. But, when the wife or the mother is sick, the husband and the children go to work, go to school and still come back and hope that the wife or Mama will be strong enough to provide food! God bless you.
It is against this background that I enjoin you to please focus on building a Catholic home. Catholic homes have a distinct character, and life is marked by prayer, not just any kind of prayer, but Catholic prayers, the Rosary, devotions and so on. These include Grace before meals, morning and night prayers and other devotions. Emergency prayers to twist God’s hands in emergency are not prayers. Your children should be equipped and learn prayers and devotions from you not from the Catechist or Teacher. Too many of you are leaving your duty to others and your children are being trained by strangers. I enjoin you to ensure that none of your children leaves home for Secondary School as a boarder without being equipped to cope with their prayer life alone.
Once again, on behalf of myself, the Priests, Sisters, Catechists, Seminarians and all the Laity of Sokoto Diocese, I welcome you and hope that you enjoy your stay. May Mary our Mother, the Mediatrix of all graces guide your deliberations. We do hope that you will come back again sooner than later.
Most Rev Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah