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DYHM Unit Group
St. Rose of Lima Unit Group, Oyigbo, Rivers State…

This unit group was born in the year 2006. We were enlightened on the life of Saint Dominic and how he finally formed the order of preacher OP. We were also told about the braches i.e those who chose to live the life lead by Saint Dominic. This braches includes the religious and the lay Dominicans. Under the religious Dominicans, we have the nuns, the monks, the friars and the sisters. And under the lay Dominicans, we have the young heart and friends of the Dominicans. All this was achieved by Fr. Patrick Akunne OP, when he was still a deacon and Fr. Christopher Nnamani OP, a brother.

The youth of the church were summoned by these young men and many turned out. After the homily on the life of Saint Dominic, many were touched to live a life in line with that of Saint Dominic. For me, His simplicity was outstanding; accepting poverty, charity and obedience. After the homily, many asked questions which were answered. Something happened shortly after they left; there were no meetings, no lectures, in fact no one talked about the Dominican young heart until the emerging of two friars who came for their apostolic work at our parish, St Pauls Catholic Church, Oyigbo, Rivers State. These two friars were Bro Nestor Orji OP, now Fr. Nestor Orji and Bro Aza Kange OP, now Mr. Aza Kange.

During their apostolic work, they were able to enkindle the dying flame of the Dominican young heart and wow many people turned up and we had about 50 members. Due to the fear that the movement might dissolve when they leave, we didn’t go for the normal one year probation instead, we had a one week seminar so that offices could be assigned to member, and because of assigning offices to members, we were accepted in the church in less than a month time after their arrival. On the 27th day of July 2006 about 30 members were received in the church by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Azike OP. On this same day, Patrons and Matrons were also inaugurated.

Offices were assigned to members and our first UCON was formed. Members of the UCON were

Dean:   Lawrence Achieze

Deputy Dean; Christian Emenike

 Scribe; Chioma Egwuekwe

Deputy Scribe;  Ann Ogbo

Liberian; Florence Esogwai

Deputy Liberian; Adaobi Gloria Ishwu

Syndic; Idam Joy

Deputy syndic; Okpara Uchechukwu

Ambassador; Christian Nwugo

Deputy Ambassador; Everest Ikechukwu

We survived when the brothers left us but then they were in constant communication with us. We tried to perfect some things like studying, living a communal life, preaching and praying; this was achieved with the help of Fr. Nestor Orji because he never left us. Yes he was absent, but present in spirit because he never seized communicating with us and sending books to improve our study habits. In fact, most of the books we have today were sent to us by Fr Nestor.

 It wasn’t rosy all through because we faced different challenges of all sorts. First of all challenges was lateness. We were not punctual, though that didn’t stop us from saying our vespers. We tried our best to correct it then, and now we can’t really say that it has been corrected. Another was our inability to adapt to community life. We were always fighting among ourselves, not physical combat but quarrels. The good thing is that we were able to correct the misunderstandings among members to an extent I must say. We did this by creating an avenue where we could be together; like going for picnic, visiting the sick etc. some kind of problem came up concerning the first deputy Liberian and was replaced with Dickson Ogbonna. The greatest of the challenges we faced that almost tore us apart was that of the church as a whole. They had to bring our case to the parish pastoral council (PPC) to decide our fate. Their complaint was why should there be another youth forum when we already have the catholic youth organization which is one of the pillars of the church. Due to the people’s level of understanding and cultural background, some of them complained of our mode of dressing just because they usually see some of our ladies in trousers around the church premises.  It wasn’t funny resolving this particular problem but now we can talk about it and laugh, Hahahaha… Thanks to our parish priest, Fr. Sylvester Nwaokoro, who took his time to narrate to the PPC our aims and objectives. We actually sacrificed some things just for the growth of DYHM in our parish. Some of us who had the habit of putting on trousers had limits to where we could go in trousers. And some who couldn’t handle what the people said about us dropped. This made our number reduced drastically. During this period, some important persons were sent to visit us. People like the deputy national coordinator, Bro Kingsley, Isioma Diji and some others I can’t remember.  

After these challenges, it was as though we started afresh with lesser number of not up to 30 members. We tried to tighten up things but all effort was abortive. Some of the old members among us got admission into a higher institution while very few old members and some new members were left to pick up the duties that were left for them. At our first general meeting, it was agreed that the tenure for offices would last for two year. So, after each 2-year of serves, election for new tenure comes up; that’s how the affairs of the unit group were put to place. Friars who came for their apostolic work the subsequent year also helped in putting this unit in a right shape. These friars include, Bro Paul Orerhim OP and Bro Benjamin Olujohungbe OP, now Mr. Benjamin. They taught us more psalm tunes, and taught us how to say vespers. And when they left us, late Bro Vincent Akpala OP took over. Due to the fact that there was no upper had to direct us, Fr Sly took it upon himself to be our chaplain.

Yes! DYHM Oyigbo unit group didn’t die, so we continued. It was really cool having Fr Sly as our chaplain and with the help of Late Bro Vincent Akpala, we were able to hold a monthly truth conference, carry out our community assistant project CAP, we were able to visit the sick, the orphanage, prisons etc. and as time passed by, the church saw our worth. To improve our study habits, we bought a notice board for the unit group, which served as an avenue for members to pass intellectual articles to the church and some vital information. Some other friars who came for apostolic work also helped formed our unit. The names of these friars include Fr. Johnmark Igboalusi OP who after his apostolic work did not abandon us but helped us build our prayer life and our study habit. the next set of friars were bro Moses Ani OP and bro Mathewmary Okereke who tried their best to see that they don’t leave us the way they met us. they taught us some skills like making greeting cards and all that to help ourselves financially incase the need arise. They also sent us books to help build our study life. After their visit bro Moses Arung and Bro Patrick also came.....

With the help of our chaplain as of then, we were able to send delegates for the first National Congress of Nigeria, NACON and also for the celebration of the anniversary of our mother unit, St Albert the great, Ibadan unit group. We were able to achieve to some level a good communal life during the tenure of Fr Damian and Fr Dominic as our chaplain. We also have not missed any of the National Congress of Nigeria as we have been able to send delegates. The greatest of all our achievement as a community was when we hosted the National congress of Nigeria NACON in the year 2012. It was really a good one and other groups acknowledged it and said we’ve set a standard for others to follow. This was achieved with Fr Alex Okounduugba as our chaplain.

Previous chaplain of the unit group include; Fr. Sly served as our chaplain for some time and handed over to Fr. Henry Nmoh. Fr Henry worked with us for some months and handed over to Fr Dominic. Fr Dominic worked with us for some months and handed over to Fr Clem. Who I will say did not associate with us well. It was as though we had no chaplain during his own tenure so we asked for a change. Fr Sly then took over his position. And now Fr. Alex Okonduugba is our chaplain and the deputy national Coordinator.

We still face some challenges today; challenges of not having our members together in our community due to pursue for further education. Also some of our members work in distant places which makes the turn-up for vespers very poor and our Tuesday’s vespers not functioning. Never the less, we are still falling and rising; we pray that the risen Lord and with the help of our Chaplin will guild us through the path Blessed Father Dominic lead. Amen!

 



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