Kano Youth Project
Pontypool Youth Sponsor Nigerian Seminarian Archbishop Peter Smith confirmed nine young people and one adult in Saint Alban’s Church, Pontypool on Sunday 25th June 2006 in the presence of Father David Hayman, Parish Priest, and Father Peter Ebidero, Vicar General of the Diocese of Kano in Nigeria.
Father Peter has been visiting Pontypool for the last five years, and during this time parishioners have come to appreciate some of the difficulties which the Catholic Church in Kano experiences. Kano State is in the north of Nigeria and its people are Hausa. While the majority of the Hausa people are Muslim, there is a strong minority of them who did not embrace Islam. It is amongst these people that the Church in Kano has an active apostolate, and it is this group of people who are called Christian Hausa. The Diocese has sought to educate many of these young Christian Hausa, boys and girls, and it is now a sign of hope for the future that amongst the twenty-nine seminarians studying for the Diocese at the present time, nine of them are Christian Hausa. However, the number of applicants who can be admitted to the seminary is limited as the Diocese has limited financial resources.
Father Peter has explained that in the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Fatima, where he is currently the Administrator, there are regularly 15,000 worshippers on a Sunday, and that some of the rural parishes have as many as twenty out-stations served by a single priest. Ashley Brown, aged 11, was amazed at seeing video footage of people queuing to go to Mass. Aron Roden, aged 13, was stunned to see as many as 5,000 people at Mass in the Cathedral on a Sunday morning. Thomas Williams, aged 15, says that supporting a seminarian in his studies is a really good way of helping the Church in Africa to grow.
It was after the celebration of Confirmation that some of the newly confirmed young people agreed to undertake a four-year project of sponsoring Alex Shukau, a Christian Hausa seminarian for the Diocese of Kano. This was a challenge which was embraced enthusiastically, and along with the Altar Servers from Saint Alban’s and Saint Felix in Blaenavon, they have organised a sponsored bike ride in the parish and arranged for pupils in both Saint Alban’s and Saint Francis’ Primary Schools to speak in School Assemblies about the Kano Youth Project. They have also asked parishioners to contribute their small change, sterling and euro, into collection jars at the back of both Churches.
At Mass in Saint Alban’s on the 27th December the Kano Youth Group presented Father Peter with £500 to cover the fees for Alex Shukau’s studies in the Seminary for the present year. However, the Group have worked so hard, and been so well supported by their families and parishioners, that they are hoping to be able to offer further assistance to other Christian Hausa through Father Peter. Daniel Woods, aged 13, said that “although we have surpassed our target to pay the fees for Alex to study in the Seminary this year, we now want to expand this project and be able to help other boys and girls to complete their secondary schooling”.
Bishop Patrick Sheehan, Bishop of Kano, has said that the Project is a “wonderful gesture which will be a great help to the Church” in Kano.
The Sacrament of Confirmation
Our Archbishop, the Most Reverend George Stack will be visiting our Parish next Saturday April 27th to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to eleven of our young people. Please come along on the night to support them and remember them in your prayers. There will be refreshments in the hall after.
Through Confirmation we are strengthened to meet the spiritual challenges in our lives.