THE MARONITE EPARCHY IN IBADAN STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF IBADAN
THE MARONITE EPARCHY IN IBADAN
STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF IBADAN
On the 28th of February, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, elevated the Maronite Exarchy in Ibadan to an Eparchy. He appointed Mons. Simon Faddoul as its first Bishop. It shall be known as the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of the Annunciation. The seat of the Bishop shall be at Our Lady of Annunciation Church, 22 Jibowu Crescent, Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State.
It is proper that such announcements bring joy and excitement among the Faithful especially those of the local church so affected. However, this is a peculiar case for which many people have expressed curiosity: Is this a new diocese within an existing diocese?! Are there two sitting bishops; hence, two cathedrals in Ibadan?! A particular social media post has gone viral on Whatsapp without the author’s name. It shows some excitement about prospects of vocation to a married priesthood in the Maronite Church and life as a Maronite Catholic. This indicates need for a proper understanding of Eastern/Oriental Churches. For the Maronites, it is not compulsory that every candidate for the priesthood be married. It is optional and many still opt for the celibate priesthood.
It should be understood that the Maronite Eparchy caters for the Lebanese Catholic Community. This elevation from an exarchy to an eparchy by the Holy Father is an ordinary exercise of his pastoral powers. Many are familiar with the elevation of a prefecture to a Diocese just as Ibadan experienced some 60 years ago in 1958. Our Faithful in the Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan will also remember the visit of the relics of St. Charbel, a saint in the Maronite Church. The liturgy of the Maronite Church was seen as it showed the tradition and spiritual heritage of Lebanese Catholics. For instance, the Eucharistic liturgy during the Maronite Mass was conducted in Aramaic language as is always done.
That event was an eye-opener for many people to know more about our beloved Catholic Church. While the Church in Nigeria and majority of Catholics worldwide are of the Latin Rite, Lebanese Catholics are of the Maronite Rite. In part, that means, the Code of Canon Law is binding only on the Latin Rite and not on the Maronites. Rites in the Catholic Church, 21 of them, have spiritual, canonical and theological traditions that are peculiar to each. However, the rites are all in union with the Holy Father and so make up One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Basics of the faith and liturgy are still same. The Catholic Church remains a COMMUNION.
The Lebanese Community in Ibadan has been in existence for long, in which time, they have participated actively in the life of the Latin-rite Church in Ibadan as parishioners at St. Richard, Jericho and Christ the King, Odo Ona Parishes. If at this time, the Holy Father creates an eparchy for them, it is a sign of growth and development; and an honour that Ibadan was selected as its seat.
In clear terms, we can state that this is not an alternate diocese in Ibadan. The eparchy has its seat in Ibadan but Bishop Faddoul’s spiritual and pastoral responsibility covers the places where Lebanese Catholics exist in West and Central Africa. He is also a visitor to the Lebanese community in South Africa.
I am happy about the conversation brought on by this development in the Maronite Church at this time. It has helped our people to know more. I thank priests who have offered responses to questions raised by our people. On behalf of the Emeritus Archbishop, Most Rev. Felix Job, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and Laity of Ibadan Archdiocese, I congratulate my brother, Mons. Simon Faddoul and the Lebanese community in our Archdiocese.
+Gabriel Leke Abegunrin
Archbishop of Ibadan
13 March, 2018.