By Valerie Uchechi Onuoha (NICCSJ Young Adults’ Leader)
One of the goals of the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of San José is to transfer its cultural and religious richness to their children and to spiritually nurture their children to reach their full potential in all areas of life. Hence, on Sunday, July 21, the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of San José honored their children, youth, and young adults at their annual Appreciation Sunday, celebrating their academic successes and contributions to the community at St. Justin Church, Santa Clara.
The day started with a concelebrated Mass of four Igbo priests who joined the community’s chaplain, Father James Okafor. The Mass was beautifully serenaded by the youth choir. Readings and prayers were said through the mouths of the young children who had practiced long and hard to present to the audience in their parent’s native tongue, Igbo. As Mass concluded, several of the young members were awarded certificates to acknowledge their academic achievements. Certificates were awarded to those who held a GPA of 3.5 or higher or were of great service to the community through the year. Awards also were given to those who recently graduated or accomplished post-graduate degrees.
After the Mass, the members and their guests headed to the hall for the reception. The master of ceremony for the event was a young adult from the community, Oge Ogamba, who kept the event animated with her wit and comedic commentary through the guidance of the youth and young adults’ coordinator, Mrs. Onyinyechi Njoku. The community was also engaged with excellent traditional food and heart-warming entertainment performed by the congregation’s youth. The intermittent drawings of raffle prizes kept the audience entertained between events. The lucky winners of the raffles received prizes that ranged from gift cards to Bluetooth speakers and Fitbits.
The first activity during this event was a pleasant presentation done by adorable youth from the Igbo Anglican community, who presented poems and songs in the Igbo language. After the youths’ presentation, the next item of the event was a young adult panel of four young adults. These brave participants volunteered their time to talk about their own opinions on a sensitive topic amongst young adults in the Igbo Catholic community, marriage. In this segment of the event, intergenerational dialogue took place, enabling the congregation to ask the panelists questions and provide advice to help resolve struggles that young, unmarried members faced with forming relationships with their peers.
After the young adult panel, the community’s children and youth livened up the crowd with their vivacious cultural dance performances. Young boys led the performance as they danced toward the center of the stage, followed by a procession of young girls and ladies in vibrant outfits. Cameras were out and about filming the young dance troupe as they entertained the audience with their exceptional performance. Soon afterwards, the audience was invited to take the floor and show off their own dance moves during an impromptu dance party.
The youth and young adults’ day celebration concluded with a fashion show where young parishioners – from toddlers to teenagers – got to strut to the center of the stage to showcase their dazzling outfits. The celebration had a good turnout and was graced with children, youth and young adults participation. It was a good steppingstone in enticing the youth in the Igbo Catholic community to come together and connect with each other. Next year’s celebration will be primed to get more youth and young adults to participate. The children, youth and young adults of the community remain ever grateful to their parents for all they do to build the community and to support them.