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Christmas Preparation In St. Mary’s Community Ozoro Amidst The Present Challenges

L R Francisca Eucharia Kachepa Augustina JustinaThe year 2020 has been marked with the visit of a frightening yet astonishing stranger – COVID-19 – whose presence has challenged us into diverging ways of meeting with our needs but more especially of listening to the Divine and seeing the Divine in all things.  We have also learnt new ways of living in community.

The outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic posed so much anxiety in our lives and restrictions to our normal way of living in our world; yet it created even more other ways and opportunities that we never dare to try. As a community, it gave us opportunity to be together, to be available and present to ourselves, to know and understand ourselves better and to pray for our world.   

On the other hand, the situation in Nigeria is worsened by the killing of the “endsars” protesters. The protest called for an end to the incessant and extrajudicial killings by the unit in Police service named “Special Anti-Robbery Squad-SARS”. The protest metamorphosed to condemn Police brutality, bad governance and other societal problems. The protest seems to be prompted by the frustration occasioned by the prolonged lockdown.

Amid the chaotic scenario in Nigeria, someone said, “one month and the year is over. What have you achieved so far??” Another friend replied, “I feel like this is honestly not the year for questions like this. People lost their jobs, lost their parents, lost their lives. It is absolutely ok to have achieved nothing of great significance this year. Just maintaining sanity in itself was an achievement.” This is because according to the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, the rate of mental illness has increased from 25 percent to 40 percent. It implies that we are all invited to explore ways of helping people to maintain sanity especially the poor.

Therefore, as we approach the end of the lunar year and begin the Church’s Liturgical year, Religious Sisters of Charity in St. Mary’s Community Ozoro Delta State reflects on the coming of our great Universal King and how we can continue to make his kingdom reign on earth despite the dreadful experience and its threat on our religious/social relationships and gatherings which have made us understand even more deeply the value of togetherness, relationships and being available to one another.

In St. Mary’s Convent, Ozoro, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, we are motivated to do something for others especially the children and less privileged in this challenging time because in them, we see the King we are celebrating. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King, who identifies himself in a special way with the poor. The preparation will commence with the community Advent Triduum on 10th December to 13th December 2020, preparing ourselves as a community and individuals to celebrate the King’s coming.

As part of our preparation and celebration, together with the Friends of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Ozoro, we will pay a charity visit to the aged and less privileged giving them hope and joy of the coming King.  After which, we will pay visit to the Ovie (King) of Ozoro Kingdom, HRM Ovietobore Anthony ogbogbo. We will also visit the Catholic Bishop of Warri Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. John Okeoghene Afareha and our Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Francis Adjagbara. These are persons whose presence we have somehow overlooked.

As a community, we will have a carol in the Chapel to welcome the Baby Jesus after the vigil Mass on 24th December and on 25th December, we will have our Christmas meal together, dance and share gifts.

After Christmas meal on 25th December, the community gate will be opened from 2pm to share the joy of the presence of the King in our midst with others, most especially with the children. We will tell them stories of the birth of Jesus Christ, sing carols with them, pray with them and give them some refreshment.

As we begin and continue to make preparations for Jesus Christ in our lives and communities, we pray that the fruit of the coming of our King and his presence in our lives will flow throughout the coming year.