By Fr Geroge Adimike
In humanity’s groping for intelligibility, direction and truth, universities are supposed to function as lighthouses that illuminate her pathways and waterways. In actuality, good universities liberate the benighted world from constraints, contradictions and paradoxes that register their presence through different forms of pseudo-freedom and reign of terror. A good university serves as an instrument of grace and a liberating dynamic force penetrating the world with ‘kindly light’ of truth, knowledge and skill.
Establishing a university with the right motive and standard participates in God’s universal government of creation so that ‘the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ’ in the Spirit. Primarily, ‘what it was to be’ a good university participates actively in the stewardship of creation. It accentuates the indispensable agential value of epistemic dimension and places it within the response to our stewardship vocation.
In so doing, the transformation that results from the interplay of the metaphysics and physics of becoming runs on the epistemic fulcrum in creating a free and just society. Here, enters Shanahan University, Onitsha, as a warranty of grace.
Keynoting grace as the motor for the authentic understanding and expression of the Christian faith footnotes works of love. Faith without work is dead, so says the scriptures (cf. James 2:14-26). While works reveal faith, it can as well conceal or displace it. As such, whenever work is inspired, fuelled and driven by faith, it produces effects of epochal dimensions.
The story of Shanahan University Onitsha, bespeaks of the grace of God, with which He enables us to become stewards of creation for His glory and human flourishing and to participate in the divine government. It depicts a shepherd, who, attentive to the stirrings of the Spirit, deploys his capital¯spiritual, pastoral, administrative and intellectual¯in the realisation of the will of God.
In effect, God’s will for the salvation of all humans through the knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 2:3-5) to relish an abundance of life (cf. Jn 10:10) found a veritable instrument in Archbishop Valerian Okeke. In response, he surrendered himself for its realisation.
In this case, the archbishop demonstrated faith in action by the fact of establishing the Shanahan University on the 18th anniversary of his Episcopal consecration. It was nothing short of grace expressing itself in common good when he laid the foundation on February 8, 2020. Shanahan University, Onitsha (SUO) is another station in the ongoing construction of the kingdom of God on earth, which, is though eschatological, has started in parts.
This initiative, which is one of the Archbishop’s responses to the inspiration and motivation to unleash into the society an array of well-formed, technically equipped, rationally prepared and spiritually alive youth, countervails the depth of evil with the depth of good. Thus, it will become a bastion of the creative minority, active catalyst and embers for the societal transformation and instrument for the establishment of the reign of God.
The Archbishop, earlyish in formation, appreciates that holistic formation of members inexorably interweaves with the establishment of a just society. Impliedly, the thriving and flourishing of any society intersects with the formation of the affective, intellective and operative dimensions of man, who is the definitive anchor of development.
The church, by her sheer engagement with the education of the head, the heart and the hand responds to her raison d’ être, liquidates forlornness and abridges misery. She forms the heart with the Word of God, and the head and the hand through her active participation in the provision of opportunities for knowledge and skill development.
On account of her corporate motherhood and her commission to teach, the church teaches the word with an absolute sense of responsibility and participates in the other aspects of education as sacrament of the presence of God, lighthouse in a benighted world and as a model for all other stakeholders, namely, family and society (state) in this indispensable responsibility.
Seconding the above premise, embarking on this university project is, undoubtedly, a submission to the power of grace. The total dedication with which the Archbishop pursues this initiative is a sufficient warrant of its profound spiritual and pastoral meaning to him. It demonstrates his absolute certainty that it is a project entrusted by the Lord for the good of society. He arrived at this certainty after subjecting the idea to prayer, reflection and consultation. The good work of the university is, therefore, a response to a spiritual vocation with an incarnational spirituality that is, following the pattern of Christ.
Shanahan University typifies an incarnational spirituality that lives out the faith in daily existence with the awareness that history is entrusted to the children of God to impact. As the saying goes, ‘if you do not impact, you feel the impact’ on the presupposition that one becomes the change he wants to see in the society.
It is always better to drive change, and thus allow its light to illuminate progress instead of suffocating in the heat of change. As such, it is better to light a candle than being fixated in the book of lamentation on the thickness of darkness. In this case, the Archbishop co-operates in God’s universal government of history in order to transform his sphere of influence to become transparent of God.
SUO is a far-seeing project that responds to the training of the future players in the socio-economic and political life of the society. Rooting it in the spirit of Bishop Joseph Shanahan, it seeks to be a breeding ground for the new level of depth for Igbo civilisation. The servant of God, Bishop Joseph Shanahan, is an apostle of Igboland and a great contributor to the development of Igbo civilization, having unleashed massive faith-inspired educational and social services that changed the texture and context of Igbo nation.
Yet, presently, the Igbo civilisation needs a rescue because of the real threats it faces from the forces of evil that are bent on bringing it to disrepute and ruins. The Igbo nation stands in need, of the renaissance of the good elements of her civilisation, which include honesty and hard work, industry and entrepreneurship, freedom and fraternal solidarity that unleashed development on Igboland pre and post-war era.
Shanahan University promises to be a ground where good values are impacted in the lives of the prospective leaders as normative ideas that will give structure and orientation to the life of society. It is a nursery where luminaries will be nursed, and school where leaders and captains will be schooled.
Shanahan University is, therefore, one of the pastoral responses from the leadership solicitude of Archbishop Valerian Okeke for the common good. It is a sign of a living hope that builds common good in the expression of faith and love, which seeks the wellbeing of the human family and fullness of life for the children of God. It is an echo of the response to grace.
Fr George Adimike