The long awaited day had finally arrived on September 1, 2018 at the Institute for Formators, Kazong-Du, Jos Plateau state, Nigeria. After three years of learning to skills that would help them to better serve their communities and congregations, 95 religious women from congregations across Nigeria graduated with the drive to put their new found skills into action.
The journey of these religious sisters began just three years ago when they learned that the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) would help fund their education through the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. Through this opportunity they were able to acquire skills in leadership, administrative management and finance management.
The Holy Mass which marked the graduation was officiated by numerous priests across Nigeria. During the homily, Msgr. Cletus Tanimu Gotan read out the Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama’s homily on his behalf.
“We must emphasize that there is no magic to the Certificate of those on graduation,” said Kaigama. “Days are coming to an end in this country when graduation and the mere possession of a Certificate for degree no matter in what or from where, confer on the holder special privileges issued to open all those on successful and well remunerated career. There are discovery more and more in preparing ourselves for the battle of life, a degree is not the only or in some cases the best form of armor.”
He went on to encourage the graduates to use all the skills they learned from their various disciplines of the ASEC/SLDI program and prayed that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide them to use their new found skills to the greater good. In addition, he encouraged the graduates to trust God to help guide them to new and exciting opportunities.
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Before the closing prayer, all the graduates marched-out with a lighted candle and Bishop Hilary Dachelem blessed and commissioned them to go out and bear witness to Jesus through their new found skills and future endeavours.
After the holy Mass, a celebration began with the ushering in of the invited guests to the high table which was followed by marching-in of the graduates. The opening prayer was said by Sr. Chika Dibia PHJC Secretary ASEC/ SLDI Alumni. Followed by opening remarks from occasion chairman Ifedayo Ojo. Afterwords, a welcoming address
Thereafter the welcome address was presented by ASEC Regional Director for West Africa Sr. Clementina Obembe OSF. In her speech, she explained that the program is meant to build the capacity of African Sisters which will enhance the effectiveness of their ministries. She also seized the opportunity to thank the sponsors of the program.
“They did not teach us how to eat fish, but they taught us how to fish,” said Sr. Clementina.
Sr. Florence Nwaonuma, SSH spoke on behalf of ASEC's Executive Director Sr, Draru Mary Cecilia. In her speech, she urged the graduates to be true representatives of ASEC wherever they go, bearing ASEC values of transformation, collaboration, leadership and service. She also went on to welcome the graduates to the ASEC alumnae community and urged them to be committed members.
ASEC's Programs Coordinator in Nigeria Sr. Clare Adelakun, DHS presented the graduates to Nigerian Conference of Women Religious (NCWR) President Sr. Agatha Osarenkhoe with an award of certification. Sr. Florence Nwaonuma SHS presented the graduates with gifts and Sr. Chika Dibia, PHJC presented them alumnae insignias. The graduates also performed a song and cultural dance for those in attendance. Afterwords, Sr. Perpetua Oloba SSL gave the valedictorian speech.
After the formal celebration, the graduates dressed in different cultural clothing for an informal get-together where jokes were shared along with choreographed entertainment.