“A worthy celebration”: Catholic Bishop at Start of Golden Jubilee of Nigeria’s Catholic Youth Organization

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo with members of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON). Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

The legacy of the 50-year-old Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON), inaugurated in the country’s Catholic Diocese of Oyo as the Catholic Youth Association, is worth celebrating, the Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese has said.

In his homily at the Eucharistic celebration to begin the Golden Jubilee of CYON in his Episcopal See, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo highlighted the legacy of the Catholic youth entity that his immediate predecessor, Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun, inaugurated in 1974.

CYON Legacy

“It is now 50 years since the inauguration of the CYA in the Old Oyo Diocese, now two Dioceses,” Bishop Badejo said referring to his Episcopal See and the one that was erected in March 1995, the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo.

He added, “We are proud to note that in these fifty years, CYA positively formed, impacted, and transformed the lives and faith of thousands of people.”


Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

According to the Nigerian Catholic Bishop, CYON “has produced one Archbishop and four Bishops, hundreds of Priests, religious and citizens who have promoted the gospel, lived by the teachings of the Catholic Church and enhanced the knowledge of the Scripture.”

The national Catholic youth entity has given rise to “good nation builders and leaders for all sectors in Nigeria,” Bishop Badejo said, and emphasized, “This golden jubilee therefore is indeed a worthy celebration.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

He lauded his immediate predecessor, Bishop Babatunde, for spearheading the establishment of CYON and added, “The visionary, barely a year old as Bishop at the time, inaugurated the CYA to assist Catholic youths in growing their faith and spreading the good news of Christ among their peers, especially in the Church and society.”

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“The old Oyo Diocese was the first diocese to establish such a youth association at the diocesan level in Nigeria, and the CYA existed for over a decade before it transformed into what today is the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON), which was inaugurated in 1985 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. That is your undeniable legacy. Be proud of it,” Bishop Badejo said during the April 4 Eucharistic celebration.

In the text of his homily titled “CYA (CYON) AT 50: SANCTIFYING THE FUTURE FROM THE PAST AND THE PRESENT” that he shared with ACI Africa, he calls upon Catholic youths in Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses to “be proud of your sterling legacy”.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

The member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication since his appointment in December 2021 says “Kudos to the People Built This Legacy”, and adds, “Some who participated in that dream have since died, missionaries, chaplains among whom are priests, sisters, lay people and even youth members.”

“May the dead rest in perfect peace and may they and those still alive reap the fruits of their labour,” he says.


The Nigerian Catholic Bishop challenges youths in the West African nation to strive to accomplish “greater things”. 

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

“My dear youth, this anniversary is taking off in the octave of Easter. Easter calls all Christians to a new beginning and gives us a new impetus to be witnesses. In the past 50 years CYA has done great things. So now greater things must happen through your CYON, in response to contemporary conditions,” he says.

Citing Pope Francis’ March 2019 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to young people and the entire people of God, Christus Vivit, Bishop Badejo reminds youths of their calling as children of God, saying, “the Church wants you to be the best of what God has made you to be and to live holy lives: the best politicians, academics, businessmen, celebrities, engineers, lawyers that can be called holy.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

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“Fall in love with the Word of God, the Bible and with the Catholic Church which is a mother and a teacher. The Church teaches us in many ways. Take full advantage of that,” he tells young people in Africa’s most populous nation.

Confidence: God is with you

Bishop Badejo urges Catholic youths to continue with the journey of life, confident of the presence of God in their respective lives. 

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

This confidence in the closeness of God should spur “you to witness to the good things you are taught by the Church and by your parents and the good things that you yourself experience to the glory of Jesus Christ,” he says, encouraging Catholic youths to draw inspiration from the post-Pentecost Peter.

“Never think that you are too small. Your witness can make a difference and have far-reaching consequences,” Bishop Badejo emphasizes in his April 4 homily text shared with ACI Africa and urges the youth to respond to Jesus’ command in the Gospel of the day, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

Participating in the Synod on Synodality

Bishop Badejo calls upon Catholic youths in Nigeria to participate in the ongoing Synod on Synodality, which Pope Francis extended to October 2024, the first session having taken place last October.

He highlights the theme, adding that its three “interrelated” dimensions of Communion, Participation and Mission “can be a good compass with which to drive your activities and growth.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

“As young people if you make these three to define your activities you will become great treasures to your family, the Church and to yourselves,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says.

He continues, “In working for communion and participating in the mission of the Church, positive values like Godliness, selflessness, solidarity, honesty self-restraint, compassion, and consideration for the common good will become part of you.”

Alluding to the Synod on Synodality assembly’s call for the formation of “digital missionaries”, the Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese, who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), an entity of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), calls upon Catholic youths to “promote the gospel and Christian values in the digital media.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

“As young people the digital media space is your natural habitat. Jesus Christ needs you to bring him alive to the numerous social media platforms that you inhabit,” he says, and further appeals to the youth to “invest more and participate in the media with your spiritual wealth and resources.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

Bishop Badejo emphasizes, “You must be active in the digital space as co-creators of content so that it is not left to charlatans and profit seekers who merely exploit others.”

“Understand that even contemporary AI technology is an extension of the human mind. It is a tool that you can use for good,” he says, and invites Catholic youths “to study” the 28 May 2023 publication of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, “Towards Full Presence: A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media”.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

Fostering Catholic Church Doctrine

In his April 4 homily text shared with ACI Africa, the 62-year-old Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in October 2007 as Coadjutor Bishop of Oyo Diocese appeals to young people to embrace and facilitate the promotion of Catholic Church doctrine on human life, the institution of the family, and sexuality.

“There is today a direct and aggressive attack on Human Life, Sexuality Marriage and family in our time that needs to be pushed back,” he says.

The Catholic Bishop cautions against “strong lobbies and ideologies all over the world”, that he says “promote anti life and anti-family ideas and practices which destroy especially the life and future of children and youths, namely, hyper-sexualization of children and young people lives as if nothing else matters, single parenthood, surrogacy, divorce, gay culture, transgenderism, cross dressing, even bestiality, etc.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

“The ongoing trial of a nuisance crossdresser in Nigeria, although for currency abuse, shows that this is a real concern. Catholic Youths must be different and manifestly so,” Bishop Badejo says, and adds, “Get a copy of the Catechism on Human Life Marriage and Family, by the Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province and you will be well equipped to understand and confront the evil plot in many such new ideologies.”

“Don’t just follow the maddening crowd,” he warns in his April 4 homily text, in which he also cautions Catholic youths against “illicit drugs and gambling” and urges them to “live a life of volunteerism” and to “fall in love with praying”.

Bishop Badejo asks CYON members to revisit his December 2023 letter, “Believe and Take Responsibility: A Christmas Letter To The Youths”, in which he called upon Catholic youths in Africa’s most populous nation to believe in their ability to progress in life, foster their relationship with God, prioritize discipline amid challenges, and that each becomes “a missionary of sorts”.

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