Discussion like this much be approached with objectivity not sentiment.
1. The new ecclesiology teaches that the Church as the Body of Christ comprises of “The People of God”. As such, the Church is not just the clergy but laity inclusive. In fact, the laity dominates. So whatever failure or success the Church has, we are all responsible for it.
2. Again, Vatican Council II teaches that “The family is the domestic Church”. There is nothing the Pope, bishops, priests or church officials can do if the families fail in their responsibility to lay the foundation of the faith well in their children or the family at large. Any committed Catholic you see, the credit it to God first, the family before the Church. The family is the First Church just as it is the First School. Many of the problems associated with the Church today started as family problems and left as burden for the Church to carry. If you have “Christian” parents in a family, the chances are there that you have “Christian” children and I’m not just talking of Church Goers!! The Church is not a solution solver but salvation seeker. If it were a solution solver, Jesus would have solved all problems from day one. It takes a faithful Catholic family to produce faithful Catholic children.
3. One cannot deny the fact that there are areas of imperfections as far as the Church is concerned. Imperfections abound because the Church we belong to is a pilgrim Church not the Church triumphant. Some of the points made by some of you are very true but some are exaggerated. However, anybody that thinks it’s only the Catholic Church that has problems should go and try other places where no fault can be found. The bigger the number the bigger the problem.
4. Many of the contributions above also reveal to me that many people are never grateful to God and the Church. I just celebrated my 12 years as a priest out of which more than 11 years have been dedicated to serving the young people as chaplain in our diocese. It was not my family or village people that appointed or assigned me to YCS but the same Church some of you are accusing now of not doing well or caring for the youth. So whatever I have done is not for myself but for the Church. Though I’m aware that many even on this platform feel that Fr. Donatus has not done enough. Today, I would let them know that I’m not ready to meet anybody’s expectations but God’s only. So also do many of you feel towards many priests. It’s very easy to condemn other people. But don’t forget, the little you have received, how grateful are you for it? Back to the definition of ecclesiology. Everyone on this platform should ask himself or herself how involved are you in the life of the Church? It is easy to point accusing finger at others. I remember last year when I had to send appeals out to a good number of you to help for YCS convention so that what you benefitted in the past, other students following you can also benefit. Only a very few, about 5 out of over 100 old ycsers I sent chats to responded. Some would claim they are students while some would tell you they have no work yet but we all know the truth. It was just a token of 3k that I sought from each person for over a period of 6 months. No matter how poor you can be as a student or unemployed fellow, if there is sense of commitment and appreciation, nobody would not be able to raise 3k in 6 months. Even among those that helped, the story still went round town that I was pressure rising people to donate money and that I don’t care about them but it’s only when I need help I start running after them. For the many years I have worked as YCS Chaplain, it is the same story by even parents of some of you who think that by helping YCS, it is Fr. Donatus they are helping. Many of you here have attitude of not appreciating people’s efforts rather you castigate them without conscience. If not for this forum, I have never heard from a good number of you ever since you left Lokoja Diocese. You don’t also look back sometimes to know that even the priests also need encouragement and support, at least morally. All you want is that the Church must just be there for you always while you don’t want to care about her in return.
6. Check out the list on this forum, many are here that have never said anything since we started. They never made any contribution. Their voices are not heard. There are many here that majority of you do not know. Imagine if this were to be a parish setting, before you know they would say that it’s so and so person that the priest relates with or recognizes meanwhile they go hiding and unnoticed! So when such people leave the Church, many don’t get to notice. And I have also noticed that many people have left this chat room and none of you here has asked why they left. You feel so unconcerned each time someone leaves. For you, it doesn’t matter. Anybody can leave but the day you leave for any reason, you would expect Fr. Donatus or any of the admin member to show concern just because it is you. You forget that what you do to others, nature would pay you back one day. This is exactly what happens in the Church. Before those that you know left the Church, many had left before them. But as “active” as you were or they were too, what did you do when they left? What effort did you make on your own to go after them or call the attention of the priest who may not be aware to it. And when he knows and fails to act, as a “faithful” Catholic, what other steps did you take? Frankly, it’s a societal problem that has become the problem of the Church somehow. When you are travelling on the road and see or meet an accident scene, most often, is it not just “Eyaaa” people say and continue their journey? Do you care to stop and help? Do you question the cause of such tragedy that others suffer at such moment? But God forbid you find yourself in such situation, you would want the whole world to come to your rescue. Our level of indifference and selfishness is so much. That accounts for our blame game all the time. No body wants to be responsible for anything. People feel pain only when it concerns them not when others are suffering. The same attitude many people display in this forum is the same attitude they display in the Church, yet the Church must keep seeking.
7. The way people talk about the Church and castigate her, they don’t do so about their individual family. If people can realize that the Church is a ‘Spiritual Family’, they would feel concerned more about her irrespective of the problems associated with her. There is none of our biological families without problems and challenges. You cannot be born into family and because of the misdeeds or misdemeanour of maybe the father or mother of the family, you would abandon the family for B or C or Z. Many people leave the Catholic Church because they never accepted her as a place to be. Majority that leave keep searching, changing from Church to Church forgetting or failing to realize that the problems is not the Church per say but their failure to accept and cope with the realities we equally face and cope with in our biological families.
8. Finally, no one can make bold to say that he or she has nothing to show for the good the Church has done in his or her life. You may claim that it is not sufficient but the truth remains, there is something in you that is Catholic, that belongs to Catholic and would remain of the Church forever and wherever you go! Above all, let us be guided by the words of Christ. “He who has no sin should be the first to cast the stone!” (Jn. 8:7). There is nothing anyone can say here about the Church that we are not all guilty of one way or the other. Charity begins at home. Let us begin here by changing our ways and attitudes. Let us not be indifferent! Let us be sensitive, let us be charitable with our lives, let us make sacrifices, let us not think of ourselves first, let us be converted, let us be open to others, let us stop discriminating, let us be involved and concerned about general good, let us be humble and meek, let us be kind in words and deeds, let us be positive and finally, let us be Catholic in truth and in practice!
Reverend Father Donatus O. Ogunleye is a rear gem. He is a guardian, a mentor and a role model to many youngsters. He touches lives in his own unique way not just by training many youths every year in the YCS conventions in Lokoja diocese and beyond.
If I say I will write about I will no stop. Although, hero’s are not celebrated until their demise. Father is indeed a legend and he deserves an applause for everything he is doing for the future leaders of tomorrow.
Thank you father, you inspire me a lot. And wherever I find myself in this world I am in your debt for grooming to be Godfearing woman I am today.