CONGREGATION OF CHRIST THE EMMANUEL
A historical-juridical account of the religious institute:
Congregation of Christ the Emmanuel began first as a Private Association of the Faithful with the intention of becoming a Society of Apostolic Life and was approved by Declaration on 24th September 1996 by the Bishop of the Diocese of Aba, the Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia CSSp. Then it evolved into a Public Association of the Faithful canonically erected with a Decree on 2nd October 1999, by the same Bishop of Aba, in view of becoming a clerical Religious Institute of Consecrated Life through the introduction of the Novitiate in the year 2001 and the first religious profession of the first group of novices in the year 2002. This decree of erection was renewed on 12th May 2005 by the same Ordinarius of the Diocese of Aba, Bishop V. V. Ezeonyia CSSp for another period of five years.
Regarding the beginning of the religious institute:
The beginning of the Congregation of Christ the Emmanuel goes back to the interior and exterior perceptions of the Founder.
The interior perception:
Only a few months after his priestly ordination in 1976 John Okoro Egbulefu began to feel the call to the Consecrated Life, but without being able to identify the proper structure in which to live it out, whether in a Religious Institute of Consecrated Life or in a Society of Apostolic Life. For discernment, he consulted severally with his Spiritual Director in the Jesuit Collegium Canisianum in Innsbruck, Austria, Pater Elmar Mitterstieler SJ. By the end of his doctoral studies in Philosophy (at the University of Innsbruck, 1979) and in Theology (at the University of Munster – Germany, 1982) the Spirit of God had – through his Spiritual Director in Germany, the Rev. Dr. Johannes Bours – infused into him the thought of founding a priestly Religious Cogregation with the Apostolate of Science (as aggregate of Research, Teaching and Study activities) and the Spirituality of Eucharistic Adoration and the Goal of Holiness. He returned in 1982 to his country, Nigeria, from Europe with such divine inspiration.
While serving the people of God in the St. Eugene’s Parish, Aba, 1982-1983, in the capacity of Assistant Parish Priest, he built up a company of 55 Altar Boys and little boys that had just received the First Holy Communion, all of whom he gave thrice in the week systematic moral and liturgical instructions coordinated with his doctrinal lesions to them on God, on Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest of God, on Mary as the Mother of a divine person and therefore Mother of God, on the Church as the people of God, on the Sacraments in general and the Eucharist in particular as sacrament of God’s salvific presence among men (God-with-us) and of Christ’s redemptive supreme love for all mankind, and on the Priesthood of Christ as Sacrament of Christ’s Spirit-filled, infallibly efficacious, mediation between God and Men for the salvation of men to the greater glory of God (‘ad majorem gloriam Dei’), while some of the young boys received the Eucharist Sacrament, the Holy Communion, for the first time under his hands.
At the end of the year – precisely on the 30th of December 1983, the 1950th Holy Year of humanity commemoration of our Redemption by Christ – he chose six of these boys and began with them the Foundation of the Congregation of Christ the Emmanuel at Ohuru, about twelve kilometres away from the township of Aba.
The exterior perception:
The proper evil the experience of which, and the need to arrest which, is one of the reasons that socially led to the foundation of the Congregation of Christ the Emmanuel is poverty as an evil (a reality resulting from some defect or lack: malum ex quocumque defectu) that is present but should be absent, poverty consisting in the total lack of richness or in the insufficiency of the required measure of richness, poverty in its three ramifications: material indigence, moral depravity and religious impiety. A) The religious impiety at stake is that which denies that God is with us men, asserting i) on the one hand that God is not yet with us, not there yet with us, does not yet exist, and is thus not Creator of the world, hence that there is nothing like creation and creatures and Creator, that the world came to exist by a bang, an explosion, rather than being called into existence through the Word of a speaking and absolutely existing Being; or ii) on the other hand that God is no longer with us, is no longer existing, is dead, that there is therefore no more basis for religion, for faith, for worship, for morals, and hence no more need for Christianity, for Christ, for the Holy Spirit, for salvation, for sanctification, for the Church, for the sacraments, for the Word of God, for the Commandments, for charity. The personal encounter with the protagonists of such impiety particularly in the contemporary European society has contributed to the foundation of the Congregation of Christ the Emmanuel. B) The moral depravity at stake follows from the religious impiety and consists in the thinking or wishing, saying and doing, of only bad things, something bad, anything bad, all things bad, to someone, to anyone, to everyone, rather than thinking and wishing, saying and doing, of only good things, something good, anything good, all things good to somebody, to anybody, to everybody. The personal experience with the promoters of such moral depravity partly in Europe partly in Africa of the contemporary times has contributed to the foundation of the Emmanuelite Congregation. C) The material indigence at stake consists in the total lack, or insufficient availability, of the material resources required for sustaining human life and social welfare. Thus the personal experience with the victims of such material indigence in the contemporary African society who tend to fall into despair and to believe that God has abandoned them, and no longer in solidarity with them, has also contributed to the foundation of the God-with-us Congregation.
However, in the midst of the experience of the poverty, there came not only the inspiration concerning how (cf. the apostolate), but also the grace with which (cf. the charism), to overcome the poverty: re-connecting the poor with God as with the source of all richness: material or spiritual (i.e. moral and religious). For: God is the source of all goodness, and hence the source of all richness, richness of every sort: material or spiritual (i.e. moral and religious), such that whenever the (materially, or spiritually, i.e. morally and religiously) poor (the cause of whose poverty goes back to their satanically induced self-disconnection, and diabolically propelled self-separation and self-distancing, from God as from the source of every goodness, and hence, from the source of every richness) are re-connected with Him, their poverty ceases, is overpowered, overthrown, overcome.
The re-connection of the poor with God as with the source of every richness – material or spiritual (i.e. moral and religious) – is the key for solving the problem of the poor, and for dissolving the social barrier and resolving the conflict between the poor and the rich, and hence for the re-connection of the poor with fellow humans that are rich.
The model of reconnecting the poor with God is given in the unions of humanity with the divine Trinity as the union of the triune God with us human in the person of Jesus Christ, the God-man (Theandros), in whom the human spirit and soul and body are united with the divine Word and Will and Life and, through the divine Word and Will and Life as inalienable elements of the triune God, with the divine Trinity. The connection among the three forms of the poverty of the poor, namely the material, the moral and the religious, recapture the connection among the three components of man ‘the body, the soul and the spirit’ and the three variations of the union among them, namely:
- ‘the union of the human soul with the human spirit from which union results the human person, the salvation of whom is called religious salvation and is wrought by Christ through partly sorrowful and partly glorious mysteries of the Pasch, namely His passages from mortal life, through suffering, to death and from death, through resurrection, to immortal life, whereby for the prolongation of such salvation to, till well into, every human person of goodwill He has instituted the Church and, therein, the Sacraments as efficacious signs and means of accomplishing that task’;
- ‘the union of the human spirit with the human body from which union results the human nature, the salvation of which is called the moral salvation and is wrought by Christ through His luminous mysteries and proclamation of the Kingdom of God as of the reign of love and of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, whereby for the prolongation of such salvation to, till well into, every human person of goodwill Christ instituted the Church and therein the proclamation of the incarnate Word of God as ‘the light of the world’, ‘the bread of life from heaven’, ‘the way – the way out of evil and misery and into goodness and glory – the truth as the proper way of life and the eternal Life itself in person’, ‘the Resurrection and the Life’, the gate into the kingdom of God’, ‘the good Shepherd that protects and leads men as flock to security of life and to green pastures as to the eternal banquet consisting in man’s participation in the life of eternal love for one another, eternal joy at one another, eternal glorification of one another and eternal peace with one another, going on inside God among the three persons in one God’; ‘the true vine only by remaining bound to which one can bear fruits’;
- ‘the union of the human body with the human soul through the human spirit from which union results the human flesh the salvation of which is called material salvation and which Christ accomplished through His joyful mysteries and miracles, be it the miracles of physical and psychical healing or of waking up the dead, be it the miracles of socio-cultural character, like multiplying bread and fish or drinks in superabundance to feed the many, be it the miracles of socio-political character, like hushing the tempest on the sea or walking on the waters and making a disciple walk on the waters without sinking, be it the miracles of socio-economic character, like invoking money into the mouth of the fish and bringing it out from there to pay tax to the government, tribute to Caesar – whereby for the prolongation of such material salvation to every human person of goodwill Christ instituted the Church and therein, prayer to God and knowledge of the Supernatural, hence Superscience as the Science that moves
ii) through the derivation of laws of stability and of dynamism from the mathematical symbols, laws formulated as theorems and theories in form of algebraic equations called formulae,
iii) to the application of these formulae in the fields of the empirical sciences for the discovery and invention of novelties (through the insertion of which into old but still valid values to make innovations) with which to effect renovations, integral promotion, progress, advancement, towards the perfection and fulfilment of the human life’.
In the cultivation of Superscience instituted by Christ lies the intellectual dimension of the Apostolate of the Emmanuelites, while in the administration of the Sacraments and in the proclamation of the incarnate Word of God as ‘the light of the world’, the bread of life from heaven’, ‘the Way (the way both out of evil and misery and into goodness and glory), the Truth (as the proper way to life) and the (eternal as the full) Life, etc. for the reconnecting of the poor with God as with the source of richness and hence for the reconciliation of man with God and of the poor with fellow humans that are rich lies the pastoral dimension of their Apostolate.