(Being a Paper Presented to the Okigwe Diocesan Clergy on the occasion of their annual Theological Conference/Seminar at the Conference Hall of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Okigwe,)
THE DIOCESAN CHURCH AND CLERGY PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
I wish to thank the Bishop and organizers and you the clergy for invitation and disposition towards me. I was requested to talk on Harnessing Talents in the Presbyterium: A Road map to the objective Development and Growth of the Local Church in Okigwe Diocese. However in consultation with the organizers I decided to expand the topic to what we have which is: The Diocesan Church and Clergy Personnel Administration. Talents or what in spiritual arena called charisms are treated in church as social organization under personnel administration or human resources management.
The Nigerian Church like other Churches is still in the process of reception of the dispositions of the Second Vatican Council and the 1983 Code of Canon Law that made far reaching legislations on personnel administration especially in determining the personnel needed in the Church, their qualities, the procedures for their appointments/placements, resignations, transfers, removal/deprivations, maintenance, training, and coordination etc.
Our approach is to address these problems while setting out in form of recommendations roadmap for genuine harnessing of talents of the priests within the local Church. We shall first expose the preliminaries n clergy personnel administration, expose the predicaments and conclude with a recommendation.
2. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS IN DIOCESAN CLERGY PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
The Diocesan Church and Legitimate Authority
The Fathers of Vatican II see the Church as threandric (i.e. divine and human). They described the Church rather than defined it in images drawn from the scriptures. However, John Paul II was to affirm clearly that, “Foremost among the elements which express the true and authentic image of the Church are the teaching whereby the Church is presented as the People of God (LG 2) and its hierarchical authority as service (ibid. 3); and further teaching which portrays the Church as a communion….” In the m d of the Africans, the Church is the family of God (see EIA). Furthermore, as the legislator stated, the Church, for the Fathers of Vatican II, the concept of ‘particular’ and ‘local’ Churches are used for dioceses or for the same region of culture or of the same rite. The 1983 new Code of Canon Law employed the term ‘particular Church’ only for the diocese. According to the new Code therefore, “A diocese is a portion of the people of God, which is entrusted to a Bishop to be nurtured by him, with the cooperation of the presbyterium, in such a way that, remaining close to its pastor and gathered by him through the Gospel and the Eucharist in the Holy Spirit, it constitutes a particular Church. In this Church, the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church of Christ truly exist and functions”.
In this Diocese/local Church/particular Church, the diocesan Bishop (can 376) competent authority and legal representative (can 393). In this particular Church the diocesan Bishop “represents his Church and indeed sums it up”; he is the center of the apostolate, successor of apostles in the local Church community; he becomes the presence of the universal Church in the particular Church, sponsors of the universal Church and all Churches, and prelate of the people whom he governs etc.
In the exercise of his pastoral office, Bishop’s power is ordinary (attached to the office), proper (exercised in his name) and immediate (directly exercised over those entrusted to his care without intermediary or hindrance).
The diocesan Bishop is personally empowered by Episcopal consecration to exercise the three functions (munera) of teaching, sanctifying and governing or ruling, that is they are uniquely constituted “Pastors in the Church, to be teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers of governance”.
In this Church the Bishop enjoys the power of jurisdiction which in canonical tradition is also called the power of governance (cann 129; 135). The legislator states that: “The diocesan Bishop governs the particular Church entrusted to him with legislative, executive and judicial power, in accordance with the law”. By this power, he is “responsible for that corporations personnel, financial and property administration, public communication and other policies. He has become the chief judge in the diocese, the chief teacher and catechist, the chief pastor”. Unlike in the political community, there is no true separation of powers in the Church. These powers in the diocese resides with the Bishop who exercises legislative power solely (cann 391, §2; 466) and executive and judicial powers personally or through the Vicars (cann 391, §2; 479; 419, 1; 1420, §1).
In summary, therefore, the diocesan Bishop is uniquely constituted a pastor and minister of governance (can 375, §1), prelate of the community of faith and shepherds of the God’s flock. Hence the weight of pastoral responsibility to govern the diocese “falls squarely on the Bishop”.  It is the Bishops responsibility to coordinate all apostolic activities in the diocese (can 394), entire curia (can 473, §1; CD 27) and the “pastoral action of the Vicars general and Episcopal Vicars” (can 473, §2). In the Decree, Christus Dominus, the Fathers exhorted:
In exercising his office of father and pastor the bishop should be with his people as one who serves, as a good shepherd who knows his sheep and whose sheep know him, as a true father who excels in his love and solicitude for all, to whose divinely conferred authority all readily submit. He should so unite and mold his flock into one family that all, conscious of their duties, may live and act in the communion of charity”; Cf. also LG 27 where the Bishop is also exhorted to imitate the good shepherd who came to serve and not to be served. Therefore, “He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his own children and whom he urges to collaborate readily with him. Destined to render account for their souls to God (cf. Heb. 13:17), by prayer, preaching and all good works of charity he should be solicitous both for their welfare and for that too of those who do not belong to the unique flock, but whom he should regard as entrusted to him in the Lord .
For the flock, we are obliged to obey the Bishop (cann 212; 273; 590; 601), that is for us clergy to accept his actions in appointments/placements, in opportunities to study and what to study, in requests to return, in support of Bishop with constructive criticism rather than divisive/diversionary agenda
The Diocesan Clergy and Bond with the Diocesan Church
The canonical status of the diocesan clergy shows that he is a Christian, a priest that is bonded with the diocesan Church for his presence, ministry, and maintenance.
As a Christian, by virtue of baptismal rebirth, the diocesan clergy is incorporated into Christ and constituted a member of the people of God (can 204, §1, LG 9) and a person in the Church (can 96). With the reception of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, the diocesan clergy is a fully initiated Christian (can 842, §2). He enjoys full communion with the Church (cann 205; 96; LG 13), and is endowed with rights (cann 208-222): and obligations (cann 223, 212) open to all faithful. One of these obligation is that of obedience.
As a Priest, the diocesan clergy enjoys the clerical state (can 207, §1; LG 31) and is designated as a sacred minister or belongs to the ministerial priesthood (cann 1008; 207, §1; LG 28), or ministers of apostolic mission (can 276, §1) effected by the imposition of hands and prayers of consecration which transforms the individual with the imprint of unrepeatable and indelible character (cann 1008; 1009, §2; 845, §1).
On the one hand, the liturgical act of ordination produces the juridical effect of a unique identity of the diocesan clergy, that is, it configures him to trinity and makes him represent Christ sacramentally as alter Christus. This implies in essence as Cornelius U. Okeke indicated, that “the priesthood is not a career or a job or an occupation that one chooses in order to advance one’s interests, actualize one’s potentialities or an opportunity to satisfy one’s private ambitions. It is a vocation to serve God and humanity in total gift of oneself.”
On the other hand, the juridic effect of ordination apart from the jurisdiction of teaching, sanctifying and ruling in the name and person of Christ (cann 129; 1012,; 1013; 1382), places one also in hierarchical communion. As such one so designated and chosen from among the People of God becomes a priest, consecrated and set apart to mediate between the people and God, and to represent them before God. By this act he is also the ambassador of the divine redeemer and consecrated to the universal mission of the Church. Finally, the priest as a diocesan clergy is different from the clerical Religious who take the sacred vows of obedience, poverty and chastity (cann 573, §2; 598-601; 607, §2).
The Church’s legal tradition disposes that every cleric must be inscribed in that community or diocesan Church for whose services he was ordained. This is called incardination which comes with diaconate ordination for diocesan priests (can 266, §1). Incardination is a juridical institution which gives the cleric a juridic title of rights and obligations in the local Church apart from that secured with baptism (can 96). It is also a means by which “a concrete pastoral relationship of service and discipline is established between the cleric and the Church….Therefore unattached or transient clerics are not admitted….” Hence, priests incardinated in particular Church or diocese (cann 368; 369) maintains ecclesial communion and canonical relationship with the diocese and to the personnel structure of authority of the Church, i.e. the diocesan Bishop under whose authority he exercises his ministry and enjoys the right of maintenance (cann 269, 1°; 519).
In this particular Church, the diocesan clergy apart from rights open to him as members of the Christ’s faithful people, has in addition, Right to belong to the diocese; Right to autonomy of life (with attendant obligation to common life-cann 280; 550; belonging to the priestly family-the diocesan presbyterium, LG 28); Right to Ecclesiastical Office (cann 274; 129; 150), Right to adequate maintenance and social security (cann 281; 1254, §1; 1274), and of course the obligation to obedience (cann 273; 212).
Ecclesiastical Offices and Personnel Dynamics
Nature of Ecclesiastical Office
The legislator drawing from the Second Vatican Council states: “An ecclesiastical office is any post which by divine or ecclesiastical disposition is established in a stable manner to further a spiritual purpose”. The elements discernable from this disposition include: It is an office (not honorific title); It is constituted by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance and as such independent of interference from every political community (can 145, §1); It is stable both objectively in relation to the office and subjectively in relation to the titulary or the person so designated (this stability may be indefinite, definite or at the prudent discretion of the competent authority who provides for the office-cf. cann 193; 148; 157); It has a unique finality, which is both the finality of the Church, which is salvation of souls (can 1752) that of the diocesan curia (CD 27) and juridic persons (can 114, §2); It is exercised always in communion with the Church (can 149, §1), individually, collegially through designated organs of consultation.The person so designated should have delineated rights and obligations or job description (can 145, §2) and where it is delegated power should have the necessary ingredients for its exercise (can 138).
Authority for Placement
In the diocesan Church, the Bishop is the competent authority that provides for offices by free conferral (cann 148; 157; 470). However, in some cases, the law requires that certain organs be consulted under the pain of invalidity according to canon 127 (e.g. consultation of the college of consultors and the Finance Council for the appointment of the financial administrator, can 494, §1) or certain persons recommended to be consulted as in the case of Dean for the appointment of parish priest (can 524), parish priest for the appointment of the parish vicar (can 547), priest within the deanery for the appointment of the dean (can 553, §2), etc.
Procedures in Personnel Placement
The legislator made both general and specific provisions for the requirements of different ecclesiastical offices in the diocesan Church. It is always obtained by canonical provision (can 146), which is a valid administrative juridical act that provides an established office with an incumbent. It should normally be made in writing (can 156), notarized (can 474) with a specification of the competences or job description i.e. rights and obligations incumbent on the office holder (can 145, §2).
Personnel Motivation and Discipline
The issue of personnel motivation calls for equal treatment, reward of outstanding contribution, trust, support, recognition and respect for initiatives, talents and legitimate competences, responsible cooperation and frequent contacts among priests themselves. The officials should be motivated with enough delegated authority necessary to accomplish the demands of the office held (can 138).
Motivation also concerns adequate maintenance, that is, enough time for rest, off days, holidays and sabbatical leave as provided in law (can 283, §2). It calls for remuneration for services rendered to the Church for the provision of necessities of life, honest livelihood and payment of needed services (can 281, §1; 231, §2) and social assistance and security at illness, incapacity, old age, resignation (cann 281, §2; 402, §2; 538, §3; 384) or even removal (can 195) or imposed penalties (can 1350). This calls for the immediate establishment of the Institute for the Maintenance and Security of Priests (can 1274, §§1 & 2).The Bishop has the responsibility to draw the attention of the faithful in this regard and to be aware that the goods of the Church is directed to the maintenance of ecclesiastical workers (cann 1254; 222; 281; 1261; 1262). Establishing a common fund for this purpose is not out place in this project (can 1274; §§3 & 4). The workers should be paid just wage for their maintenance and their dependents (cann 1286; 231).
Furthermore, the need for motivation calls for the formation and training which may be formal or informal. It involves a healthy introduction of the workers into the system of administration and a sort of apprenticeship or on the job training. Ongoing formation is a right and a responsibility to clerics (can 279), Religious (can 661; 724) and for some other workers like catechists (can 780) and even for the Bishops. In spite of this right, the legislator and other dispositions of the Magisterium disposed that formal education should not be for all but for selected few and for those “outstanding in character, intelligence and virtue” (can 819) and under the authority of the Bishop. This was the position of Blessed John Paul II in 1982 to us Nigerian priests:
Nigerians love to study. This is good. Learned priests are required in order to answer the needs of Church and society. Every priest should continue to improve himself by the private study of theology, catechetics and other such sacred sciences. Strive to make time for some such study frequently. When you are ordained and it is a question of going to universities or similar institutes inside or outside Nigeria, this is an assignment to be given only to a certain number of priests, according to diocesan needs and planning, for which the Bishops take ultimate responsibility. Do nothing without your Bishop or worse still against him, especially on this point. Priests who have already put themselves into such irregular positions can now retrace their steps and find peace of conscience. In the same way, you will resist the temptation to seek employment anywhere without or against your Bishop. We all share in Christ’s one priesthood. Let us maintain its unity and love.
The officials of the diocesan Church are obliged to make promise of discharging their duties in fidelity to the diocesan Bishop and according to law (can 471, 1°). However, while most are obliged to make promise others like the Vicars, members of diocesan Synod, administrators of temporalities, (and for some also the members of the college of consultors) are obliged to take oath of fidelity and make profession of faith (cann 833, 1°, 5°; 1283, 1°). The oath must also be taken by all who constitute or assist in tribunal (can 1454).
The diocesan personnel are also bound by confidentiality within the limits and according to the manner determined by law and the diocesan Bishop (can 471, 2°). This obligation is highly demanded for all officials and in special mode those involved with diocesan archives and in general judicial officials (cann 1455; 1457). It is also demanded of consulting organs i.e. not to make public matters decided in the meetings as this is the prerogative of the Bishop (cann 514, §1; 500, §3; 466 etc). This is highly demanded for confessors, Canon Penitentiary, Interpreter of the seal of the sacrament of Reconciliation which is inviolable (can 983) at the risk of censure (can 1388).
The obligation to enforce laws within the local Church is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop (cann 392; 384). He should therefore be vigilant to see that order, discipline and serenity reign in the curia/diocesan environment. This calls for prompt action and intervention with charity, yet firmly and decisively: whether through admonition or correction, or taking steps towards removal (cann 192-195; 477; 485; 538; 552; 563; 682§2; 1740-1747 etc) or transfer (cann 190-191; 1748-1752); and in some cases loss of juridical status (cann 290; 694-696; 703), deprivation (cann 196; 84; 1389), suspension (cann 468, §1; 1386), dissolution (can 501, §3; 468, §1) or even inflicting just penalty (cann 1375; 1381; 1386) and or in extreme circumstances initiating process of dismissal (cann 1333; 290).
To provide effective channels and means of resolving conflicts either amicably (cann 1446; 1676; 1659; 1695; 1713; 1733) or through arbitration (cann 1713-1716) or Committee (can 1733), or through administrative procedures and hierarchical recourse (cann 1400, §2; 1445, §2; 1732-1739). Thus the “credibility of diocesan governance may well rest on the extent to which it is sensitive to the rights of people in the diocese and is able to provide adequate protection for them not only within the diocese but within the wider Catholic communion”.
The coordination of the curia will never become effective if the chains of command and channels of communication are not properly determined. This involves determining the required offices and organs; their competences and the communication links and interrelationships. This is called designing the organization diagram (i.e. ORGANIGRAM). On this William Orchin said: “The organization of a society is determined by the form of its government, i.e. by the composition and functioning of the organs and persons which are entrusted with assuring of its direction”. The Bishop therefore should establish these offices and organs with their proper titles, competences (i.e. Job descriptions), and terms of offices. This should normally be articulated in a decree (can 145, §2); in writing (can 156) and notarized (can 474). It is good that all structures of the administration be assembled in a well articulated Statutes (cann 94-95) and Diocesan Handbook of Administration. This serves a lot of purposes for and in the local Church:
This serves effective function of enhanced communication in the diocese. Good communication is “the glue that holds structures and human relations together” and it is “organization in action”. Poor communication destroys the organization; it incapacitates it. Some Church administrators specialize in secrecy that is irrelevant and uncalled for. They hoard essential information to subordinates creating network of suspicion and red-tapism. On this Abel Ubeku said, “the workers do not become suspicious because they misunderstand the language in which the information is passed to them; they become suspicious because they are not told what is happening and therefore gather scraps of information through the grape vine”. And Hilary Okeke added:
The administrator should always adopt the most effective means of passing relevant information to other members of the organization in such a way that the information is clear, precise and intelligent. Important information should be communicated in writing. Information should be given well ahead of time. Information delayed is information denied and ‘sitting on the file’ when a person has applied for something is a form of administrative unkindness. This may breed frustration and resentment. Note the provisions of can. 57 and the obligations to repair any harm done by administrative silence.
The communication we mean here can be formal or informal but should follow the required hierarchy in the Church organization. In addition, it is not in order to get a situation whereby subordinates are empowered to direct professionals or those in the high offices of the Church. These demand that the required chains of command and channels of communications should be properly established and respected.
3. PREDICAMENTS IN CLERGY PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
Aberrations in Personnel Placement
Often times relationships are strained either because of the conclave nature of administrative operations, appointment of certain persons with questionable integrity to exalted offices in the Church, nonexistent of personnel department and neglect in utilization of better qualified persons in areas of competence, unhealthy criticisms, sycophancy, jealousy and worst still presence of unproductive and under-utilized academic degrees and distracted concentration on wealth. 
The principle of appointing the right persons in office should guide his executive appointments i.e. ensuring that skilled, experienced, outstanding persons distinguished for their piety and pastoral zeal are nominated for offices. The Bishop should endeavor to know his priests i.e. their character, their aptitudes, their aspirations, the depth of their spiritual life, their zeal, their ideals, their state of health, their financial situation, their families and everything which concerns them. And he should know them not just in groups…or through pastoral bodies, but also individually and, as far as possible, in their place of ministry. This is the purpose of his pastoral visits, when as much time as possible should be given to personal matters…..
This knowledge draws on the Bishop the charisms of discernment, discretion and prudence devoid of arbitrariness, prejudice and suspicion of favoritism or undue pressures, private interests or ethnic considerations in making ecclesiastical appointments. And worse still to fill the curia with people who are not responsible or suitable (can 149). The Bishop should not burden an individual with many responsibilities especially where there are presences of many qualified personnel. This approach even helps the spiritual and interior life of the office holder so designated. Besides, when one person is invested with many responsibilities, there is always the risk of ending up not doing neither well i.e. “Jack of all trade and master of none”
The other is multiplication and duplication of offices/commissions without sharp terms of references. Sometimes we see conflicts of competences. Hence offices should not be multiplied unnecessarily without purpose of both the apostolate and mission at heart as one principle directed: entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate and an author added, “Today so many Bishops are hiding behind anonymous structures, committees, sub committees, all kinds of groups and offices” 
Lack of Healthy Further Education Policy
A healthy further studies policy (involving the presbyterium in its formulation), and fidelity to its implementation is a necessity now in our local Churches. This policy should endeavour to determine what to study and the extent the individual can contribute to the local Church. An earlier plan and information of what one will do before going or on return will enhance better diocesan personnel management. The idea of “if you get opportunity you can go” is directly against the formal nature for further studies as directed by the Church. This is because if individual undertakes the arrangement of sponsorship it may tantamount to declaration of independence on the part of the priest. The normal thing should be that such arrangement should go through the diocesan bishop.
An existent policy calls for fidelity to its implementation. In addition, there is also need to reconsider the former practice of referring and requesting recommendations from the formators in the Major seminary who actually know the capability of their students for quite a long period of time. This is indeed a healthy ancilla for the diocesan Bishops’ decisions for the priests among other considerations. Again, the collaborators in the ministry of diocesan Bishop (i.e. Further Education Commission etc) should endeavour to give their sincere advice (can 127, §3) based on the above principles so that the Bishop will not make costly mistakes in handling any of his priests that later leave bitter and lasting effects.
Refusal to return after Further Education
We have experienced in the midst of immense flourishing indigenous vocations to the priesthood, a corresponding increase in the number of diocesan priests that go for further studies either within the country or outside. This is made possible by the diocesan Church, the Missionary Decastery, and other local and foreign funding agencies and of course our families, communities and friends that have sustained the local Church in trained personnel.
However, the stories surrounding further education have been that of mixed feelings. Thus, when you calculate the enormous number of Nigerian Priests in some places like USA, Germany, Austria (the countries notable for permanent stay of priests), Rome, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Holland, Nigeria etc. and the percentage of their return back home to assume and help the local Church one need to stop and reflect. The situation of longer stay is now creeping into those priests who study in Rome, Belgium, and even in Nigeria etc. What then could be the reasons for the refusal to return back to our country prevalent among some of us? Let us attempt a presentation of list to which you may add others: Problem with research that is, in relation to materials, language and the Professors especially those who are known to make life difficult for their students; Problem with our families and the economic demands on the priests as new family breadwinners today; Problem with funding and the necessity to take up appointment or work in order to sustain the high standard of living and expensive education in some places; Avowed interest in commerce and money since the environment offers better opportunity especially in the context of foreign exchange (The Council Fathers decreed: “So they are not to regard an ecclesiastical office as a source of profit, and are not to spend the income accruing from it for increasing their own private fortunes. Hence priests, far from setting their hearts on riches, must always avoid all avarice and carefully refrain from all appearance of trafficking”); One prefers periodic home visitation rather than permanent return home with the impression that there is nothing to do at home especially in the midst of the so called “vocation boom” or unreceptive environment; Overstay and loss of bearing from ones root and local Church where he is incardinated and brought up breed alienation (For some with “Green Card”, “Carta Soggiorno” or “Citizenship”, the loss of one’s roots and independence from the local ordinaries is declared); One may be annoyed either with the system who has failed to understand and consent to his agenda which in most cases is contrary to the mission of the Church or the fact that he was not earlier allowed to go for studies on time, or do the course or go to the place of his choice or receive the necessary documents (like Bishop’s authority letters, celebret etc) and financial support or stories of woes, of victimizations or perceived injustice received on the part of their Bishops before they finally “escaped for “ studies: punitive transfers, lack of appreciation of sincere pastoral efforts etc; the scandalous waste of time and fund especially where the individual do no struggle for his sponsorship; The diocesan Bishop could give tacit endorsement to this long stay not solely on the bases of reconciling the individual to the local Church but because the individual in question makes financial contribution to the Bishop, who stays in his place always while in trips overseas. The person believes this is the way through which the local Church can give him little peace to live his life as he has projected. Furthermore, experiences showed that the originators of this unhealthy attitude of not returning on schedule were among the group considered to be among the best. But it was all disappointment calling for serious review of the statutes and fidelity to its genuine implementation. This is equally unfortunate.
Strained Relationship between Bishops and Priests
This is seen in areas of placements, transfers and deprivation of offices, further studies and recalls; in exhortations and reprimands and in maintenance/social security. As the numbers of the diocesan presbyterium are daily on increase, the Bishop is also daily challenged to discernment and attention to the growth of his priests. The talents which are gifts from God should be “identified, appreciated, willingly acknowledged (not grudgingly tolerated) and given every opportunity for constructive uses… for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.” The Bishop, in exercising his ministry should try to relate with his priests,
not merely as a ruler towards his subjects, but rather as a father and a friend. He should devote himself wholeheartedly to creating a climate of affection and trust such that his priests may respond with a convinced, pleasing and firm obedience. The practice of obedience is strengthened rather than weakened if the Bishop, as far as possibly and without prejudice to justice and charity, explains to the interested parties the reasons for his decisions. He should show equal care and attention to every priest, because all of them, while their gifts will be many and varied, are engaged in the service of the Lord as members of a single prebyterate.
The priest on the other hand should acknowledge the authority of the Bishop and accept him not merely as the chief executive but more as a father and mentor.
Failed Priestly Fraternity/ Solidarity
We observe within the diocesan Church different levels of strained relationships or failed fraternities or conflicts among clergy. These include: Priests and Priests (i.e. curial officials and priests; parish Priests and Parish Vicars; Parish Priests and Priests in Residence); Priests and Religious; Priests and Laity or Parish Publics/communities etc.
Reasons for such include unhealthy image of one another i.e. unhealthy images and misconceptions that affect the identity, status, attitudes towards one another; evidences of pride, ambition, greed, envy, hatred, lack of respect; presence of emotional immaturity and complexes or exhibition of wounded self; connection with the powers that be or struggle over power; display of materialism, fame, money, cars; ministerial activities beyond one’s territory i.e. intrusion without permission; observed conflicts in competences especially in demands related to rights and benefits; evidence of growing discord, conflicts and litigations among priests living together as the noble edifice of fraternity is eroded by fight of personal egos/individualism/selfishness and as some engage in intrigues and character assassination that remain a scandal to the people of God in the parish and beyond; or unhealthy and irresponsible relationship with women in the rectory or flooding of the rectory with friends and family relatives at the neglect of other priests; and generation gaps.
Some parish priests adopt either a laissez fair or despotic/high handed style of leadership. For some there is no forum for communication, pastoral planning/programming/schedules and dialogue for fraternity/common life in some rectories. There is no division of labour and trust among priests living together. The Parish Vicars should not be seen as glorified houseboys at the hands of the parish priests. They are priests in their own standing and part and parcel of the mission and ministry of the Church. We also observed that some parish priests when they have cause to go on leave or stay outside the parish for a while normally hand over the parish administration to a visiting priest other than the other priests with them. In some cases such visiting priests are highly remunerated and attended to more than those directly involved in parish ministry or residing in the rectory. There is need for on the job training and opportunity at all levels.
What do we say of those who are unconcerned with the welfare of their brother priests, i.e. his feeding, Medicare, car maintenance, house equipments, gifts etc?; or one that feel threatened because his colleagues preaches better homilies or appreciated by the community; or one that exhibits intimidating character that does not accommodate or tolerate the other?; or one soaked with jealousies against the achievements and progress of the other?; or exhibits insincerity in making monetary demands etc? In effect how do we manage the differences in our personality and character? How do we accommodate one another in the spirit of the gospel and as a reflection of our true identity as servants of the gospel?
4. CONCLUSION: BROTHERS WHAT MUST WE DO? (Acts 2:37)
The question of the first converts to faith on Pentecost will be the point of departure for the conclusion of our presentation. As priests consecrated for the Lord and the Church, we should readjust ourselves and comportment so that it will correspond to our identity and our invitation to service for the good of our local Church since administrative office and power is ministerial, imitating Christ who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many (Mark 10,45; Matt 20, 25-28; Luke 22,27; John 10, 1-17; 13, 1-17; 21, 15-17). There is no place for absolutism or dictatorship but rather solicitude and service (1 Pet 5, 1-4; Matt 20, 25-28; 1Cor 4, 1-6). The Fathers of the Council advised that the “office, however which the Lord committed to pastors of his people is in strict sense of the term, a service which is called in sacred scripture a ‘diakonia’ or ministry (Acts 1, 17; 21, 19; Rom 11, 13; 1 Tim 1, 12)”. It is on this note that we present these challenges necessary for the good of the diocese.
The Challenge of Internalized/Personalized Priestly Identity
In our desire to accomplish the challenges of priestly service, we believe that priests should make a journey through the self by appreciating our identity and personalizing our vocation, i.e. by asking and responding to basic questions on our vocation, status and mission in the Church. According to Collins Okeke,
To be responsible for one’s vocation entails personalizing one’s vocation. Personalization is a continuous process and entails having a clearer vision of the vocation itself, the dismantling of false expectations associated with it, and the overcoming of illusions about oneself. But the ground of that personalization remains the rediscovery and acceptance of God’s unconditional love for us as individuals and as a Church.
St Paul exhorted the Romans thus:
And if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
The challenges to personal integration and openness to the demands of our call is necessary since “modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” and the “faithful draw great encouragement from the example and witness of the priest.” Continuing the Bishops of Nigeria advised: “Priests should strive earnestly to always match their words with their actions. Their lives should be gospels that people can read. An individual priest’s life may well turn out to be the first gospel that some people will read or may be even the only gospel that they will ever read.”
We should readdress our attitude to further education and make it reflect the vision and mission of the Church. For us diocesan priests, we are called in obedience to collaborate with the bishops in a spirit of loyal and sincere communion, being ready always to accept transfers, and the invitation to return to take up assignments at home. The local Church has concern for us, and she waits for our prompt return to continue the mission of Christ the redeemer, which is “far from being completed” . Our contribution is required in the area of both the society and the Church, in our seminaries, diocesan curia and parishes etc.
The Challenge of Healthy Interpersonal Relationship/ Community life
The priests should reach out in healthy interpersonal relationships with both his bishops and other priests. Reminding the priests of the need for a sense of the Presbyterium and friendship the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples added:
Priests should try to have relations of real friendship with their fellow priests, being able in this way to help each other more easily to develop their spiritual and intellectual live, to give assistance in material needs, and to live more fully and more serenely. This type of friendship between priests, developed in Christ as a consequence of each one’s personal communion with Him, is of great help in overcoming the difficulties of loneliness.
There should be time for dialogue and review of pastoral programmes; time for common prayers/con-celebrations at Masses; at least one common meal; effective communications of feelings and sentiments etc. (cf. cann 280; 550, §2). In essence, there is obligatory need to have regular and formal business meetings (discussions during meals or during recreations are inadequate).
Community life means not merely living physically together but sharing on the spiritual, pastoral and human levels. Thus, priests who form a community should pray together; they should exchange useful information and plan and evaluate together their apostolic activities; they should help each other in cultural updating; they should help each other financially, even having to some extent their goods in common, according to the bishop’s guidelines; they should willingly take recreation together; they should help and encourage each other in difficult situations, in times of weariness or illness, and especially when problems with one’s vocation arise; when necessary, they should not be afraid to give fraternal advice.
We should learn to appreciate the talents inherent in others.
The Challenge to Diocesan Leadership
It is a simple truth that no organization can function effectively without good leadership. In our context as already presented, the diocesan leadership rests squarely on the diocesan Bishop. It is his responsibility to coordinate and direct the affairs of this portion of the people of God (cann 394; 473, §§ 1 & 2) towards the finality of the Church- salvation of souls (can 1752). The way and manner he directs the affairs of the local Church remain desiderata to the amount of loyalty and cooperation he will get from both the faithful and especially his immediate cooperators-the diocesan clergy. On this note his exercise of authority as service becomes paramount. The diocesan bishop is bound to create the enabling environment that will foster this relationship among priests in his leadership styles especially in personnel placement, further studies, maintenance etc.
On this note he should exercise his authority, and show charisms of discernment, discretion and prudence in his dealings and especially in his personal knowledge of his priests. As the number of priests in each diocesan presbyterium increases, the Bishop is also challenged to see that their talents which are gifts from God should be “identified, appreciated, willingly acknowledged (not grudgingly tolerated) and given every opportunity for constructive uses… for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
In addition to this his discerning charisma, discretion and prudence should be manifested in his personal knowledge of his priests, that is,
their character, their aptitudes, their aspirations, the dept of their spiritual life, their zeal, their ideals, their state of health, their financial situation, their families and everything which concerns them. And he should know them not just in groups…or through pastoral bodies, but also individually and, as far as possible, in their place of ministry. This is the purpose of his pastoral visits, when as much time as possible should be given to personal matters…..
The fact that these sons (i.e. diocesan priests) of the Bishops are not returning early or not interested in returning or eager to move out, call for deeper self-examination on the part of the diocesan leadership. The legislator called the Bishop’s attention to solicitude to the welfare and predicaments of his priests in these words:
He is to have a special concern for the priests, to whom he is to listen as his helpers and counselors. He is to defend their rights and ensure that they fulfill the obligations proper to their state. He is to see that they have the means and the institutions needed for the development of their spiritual and intellectual life. He is to ensure that they are provided with adequate means of livelihood and social welfare, in accordance with the law.
There is need to establish the Personnel Department directed be a Vicar; establish Handbook of Priests continuing Education specifying and expanding what to study to include not only core ecclesiastical courses but also secular courses (eg. Management sciences, animal husbandry, community/Adult Education, engineering, architecture, Hospital administration, building technology etc), non multiplication and duplication of offices/commissions; establish Handbook of Diocesan Administration; expanding areas of apostolate to include not only tertiary institutions but also Schools, ministries etc.
In conclusion, brother priests, “fill your minds with whatever is truthful, holy, just, pure, lovely and noble. Be mindful of whatever deserves praise and admiration” (Phil 4, 8), and
If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your conviction and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make one completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit, but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds, you must be the same as Christ Jesus.
 Cf. LG 1, 8, 21; CCC 771.
 Cf LG 6, 9, 1, 7, 13, 48.
 John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution, Sacra Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983, p. xiv.
 Cf. CD 11; AG 22; OE 2; LG 23 & 26.
 Cf. CIC/83, can 368: “Particular Churches, in which and from which the one and only catholic Church exists are principally dioceses”. (See also can 369).
 CIC/83, can 369; this repeats the dispositions of the Fathers of Second Vatican Council in CD 11. The decree Christus Dominus followed LG 23 and 28.
 PB 3; LG 23.
 PB 4.
Apostolorum Successores, p.5; LG 27; CD 8; CIC/83, can 330.
 CIC/83, can 782, §2; 1271.
 CIC/83, can 381, §1.
 LG 21; CIC/83, can 375, §2; Cf. P. Erdo, “Ministerium, munus et officium in Codice Iuris Canonici,” in Periodica 78 (1989), pp. 411-436; B. F. Griffin, “Three-fold Munera of Christ and teh Church,” in Code, Community, Ministry, E.G. Pfnauch ed., CLSA Washinghton, 1982.
 CIC/83, can 375, §1.
 CIC/83, can 391, §1.
James H. Provost, “Canonical Reflections on Selected Issues of Diocesan Governance,” cit., p. 237; T. M. Monroe, “The Rhetoric and Reality of Collaboration,” in CLSA Proceedings 54 (1992), pp. 147-161.
 The Church addresses the State as political community (GS 76).
 Cf. Julian Herranz, “The Personal Power of Governance of the Diocesan Bishop,” cit., p. 24; Thomas J. Green, “The Pastoral Governance Role of the Diocesan Bishop…,” cit., p. 483.
 Apostolorum Successores 160, p. 178; see also LG 24.
 CD 16.
 Cf. Congregation For Bishops, Directory on Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, Apostolorum Successores 75.
 Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 12; Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Pastoral Guide for Diocesan Priests in Churches Dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, October 1, 1989,p. 7 (henceforth Pastoral Guide) ; Congregation for the Clergy, Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, January 31, 1994, no. 3, Vatican City, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994 (henceforth, Directory).
 PO 12; SC 33; John Paul II, Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003, no. 29, in AAS, 95 (2003), pp. 436-485; Directory, nos 6, 7; Pastores Dabo Vobis, nos. 15, 19; Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community, August 4, 2002, no. 8, Vatican City Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2002.
 Cornelius U. Okeke, “Priestly Identity and Life-Situation as a Priest,” A Paper presented to the Awka Diocesan Clergy at the Diocesan Theological Seminar held at REPACCO, Okpuno on November 24, 2004, p. 10; also Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 36.
 Cf. PO 7; John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, On the Bishop, Servant of Jesus Christ for the Hope of World, Pastores Gregis, October 16, 2003, no. 47, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2003 (henceforth Pastores Gregis).
 Cf. PO 3.
 Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical letter on the Education of the Clergy, Fin dal Principio, 8 December 1902, No 3, 4; R. Abba, “Priests & Levites,” in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, vol 3, New York: Abigdon Press, 1962, pp. 877-878; Ik. B. Ngwoke, “Ordained to Preach Christ,” in Bigard Theological Studies 8/1 (Jan-Jun 1988), pp. 4-9; F.C. Okafor, “The Role of Priest Intellectual,” in Pastoral Management & Communication, Jerome I. Okonkwo ed., Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd., 1994, p.1.
 Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical on the Catholic Priesthood, Ad Catholici Sacerdoti 20 December 1935, No 12; Pius XII, Encyclical on the sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei, 1947, No 20; PO 1, 2, 28, 32; LG 10, 11, 21, 28; SC 7; CD 15.
 Cf. PO 10; John Paul II, Encyclical on Permanent Validity of Church’s Missionary Activity, Redemptoris Missio, 7 December 1990, Nos 67-68; AG 39; CIC/1983, cann 257; 271; 792; Acts 1,8; Matt 28, 18-20; Mark 16, 15; Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction on Sending Abroad and Sojourn of Diocesan Priests from Mission Territories, 1, 6; John Paul II, Post- Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the formation of Priests in the Present Circumstances, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1992 No 58.
 Joseph Martin De Agar, The Handbook of Canon Law, p. 56 ; Cf. also CD 28 ; Juan I. Arrieta, Governance Structures within the Catholic Church, cit., p. 203; see CIC/83, can 265: “accordingly acephalous or wandering clergy are in no way to be allowed”. In addition this incardination gives him right of maintenance (cf. can 281).
 See Hilary O. Okeke, Rights of Diocesan Priests in Nigeria, Paper to CLCN Professionals at Okpuno, February 1997, pp. 15-18.
 CIC/83, can 145, §1; see also PO 20.
 Cf. Juan Ignacio Arrieta, “Commentary on Can 146,” in Annotated 2004, p. 127.
 Cf. Garcia Martin, Il norme generalis, cit., p. 507, argues that this is necessary for the validity, but the general opinion is that it is required for liceity.
 We remember that this is also the ground for incardination of clerics in the Church (can 269, 1°).
 This may be accomplished through collections, moderate tax, almsgiving and offering of the faithful (cann 1262; 1263; 1265, §2; 1266; Apostolorum Successores 191, pp. 209-210.
 Cf. H.J. Donald, “The Code of Canon Law Provisions on Labour Relations,” in The Jurist 44 (1984), pp. 153-193; T. T. Grant, “Social Justice in the 1983 Code of Canon Law: An Examination of Selected Canons,” in The Jurist 49 (1989), pp. 112-145.
 Cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis 76; Apostolorum Successores 83, p. 93); Directory on Ministry and Life of Priests Nos 87-89.
CIC/83 can 279: §1, Clerics are to continue their sacred studies even after ordination to the priesthood….
§2, Priests are to attend pastoral courses to be arranged for them after their ordination, in accordance with the provisions of particular law. At times determined by the same law, they are to attend other courses, theological meetings or conferences, which offer them an occasion to acquire further knowledge of the sacred sciences and of pastoral methods.
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores 33-54, pp. 47-60.
 John Paul II, “Address to Nigerian Clergy and Seminarians”, February 13, 1982, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu.
 Oath is a sacred duty and involves the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth (can 1199, §1) with the attendant obligation by virtue of religion to fulfill that accepted in oath (can 1200, §1); for the formula see that provided by the CDF.
 Also Deans of deaneries (can 555, §§1&2, 2°) and Religious Superiors (cann 618-619) in their areas of jurisdiction.
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores 81, p. 92 ; See also John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, motu proprio datae, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela, quibus Normae de gravioribus delicts Congregationi pro Doctrina Fidei reservatis promulgator, 30 Apri. 2001, in AAS 93 (2001), pp 737-739 (hereafter referred to as Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela).
 James H. Provost, “Canonical Reflections on Selected Issues of Diocesan Governance…,” cit., p. 217, & 216, 248; James H. Provost, “Rights in Canon Law: Real, Ideal, or Fluff,” in CLSA Proceedings 61 (1999), pp. 317-342; see also can 221 on due process.
 Willaim H. Orchin, “The Church society & Organization of its Powers,” in Readings, Cases & Materials in Canonc Law, ed Jordan F. Hite et al, Minnesota Collegevile, The liturgical Press; see also Ben E. Etafo, “Ecclesiastical Administration in the Nigerian Church: An Overview,” cit., p. 3.
 Abel Ubeku, Personnel Management in Nigeria: Principles and Practice, London, Macmillian Pub. 1984, p. 178.
 Hilary Okeke, “The Structures and Dynamics of Church Administration”, cit., p. 13.
 see for general readings James H. Provost, “The working Together of Consultative Bodies…,” cit., pp. 257-281; Robert T. Kennedy, “Shared Responsibility in Ecclesial Decision Making,” cit., p. ; Betran F. Griffin “Diocesan Church Structures”, in Code, Community and Ministry, de. James H. Provost, Washington, CLSA, 1983, pp. 53-62.
 Simon A. Okafor, Catholic Diocese of Awka: The Handbook on Priests’ Continuing Education, 2 December 1998, Okpuno, Fides Communicatioons, 1998; Bishops of Onitsha & Owerri Ecclesiastical Provinces, The Igbo catholic Priest at the Threshold of the Third Millennium, 6 August, 1999, No. 40, Enugu: Snaap Press (Nig.) Ltd, 1999; See also Cornelius U. Okeke, “Personalising One’s Vocation: The Great Challenges to Nigerian Priests and Religious of the 3rd Millennium,” in Encounter 5 (2001/2002), pp.16-33, here in pp. 18-19 & Expectations of Life as a Priest: A Comparative Study of Igbo Catholic Diocesan and Religious Seminarians, Rome: Pontifical Gregorian University, 2003, p. 246; Chukwudum B. Okolo, “Justice in the Nigerian Church: A Theological Prologomenon to the Forthcoming African Synod,” in Bigard Theological Studies 11/2 (July-Dec 1991), pp. 4-20, here in pp. 13-14
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores 61, p. 70.
 Cf. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, “Munus Regendi: The Government of the Diocese, cit., p. 113; cann 521; 1435.
 Apostolorum Successores 77, pp. 85-86.
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores, p. 87; He should be aware of the provision that restricts appointing relatives to offices or making the beneficiaries of Church properties or change of foreign currency (cann 478, §2; 492, §3; 1298 etc); Gerard Nwagwu, “Elements of Personnel Administration,” being a paper presented at the seminar for Church Administrators organized by CBCN 13-14 May, 1997 at REPACCO, Awka, p. 3.
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores 78, p. 87: The Directory called for pastoral work for curial officials so as to reduce bureaucracy.
 Episcopal Conferences, ed. Thomas J. Reesel, Georgetown University Press, 1989, p. 9; see also James H. Provost, “Diocesan Administration: Reflections on Recent Developments,” cit., p. 85 ; Charles Torpey, “Offices of the Diocesan Curia…,” cit., p. 124.
 Chiegboka, ABC, Diocesan Priests and Further Studies, Rex Charles & Patrick Ltd, 2009.
 Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorium Ordinis, No 17; see also can. 286.
 Hilary O. Okeke, “Dynamics & Organs of Consultation in Diocesan Administration,” being a paper presented at the seminar organized by the Canon Law Society of Nigeria, at REPACCO, Okpuno Awka, 1999, p. 9.
 Chukwudum B. Okolo, “Justice in the Nigerian Church…,” cit., p. 13.
 Apostolorum Successores p. 85; can 384; John Paul in other places still repeated: “Before being the superior and judge of your priests be their masters, fathers, friends, their good and kind brothers, always ready to understand, to sympathize and to help. In every possible way encourage your priests to be your personal friends and to be very open to you. This will not weaken the relation of juridical obedience; rather it will transform it into pastoral love so that they will obey more willingly, sincerely and securely” (Address to a group of Nigerian Bishops during Ad Limina Visit, in L’Osservatore romano, English edition, 5 October 1987, p. 19); “The Bishop will always strive to relate to his priests as a father and brother who loves them, listens to them, welcomes them, corrects them, supports them, seeks their cooperation and, as much as possible, is concerned for their human, spiritual, ministerial and financial well-being” (Pastores Gregis 47, p. 123); Cf. also LG 28; Ecclesia Imago 107,108 p. 55; Apostolorum Successores 75, p. 84; PO 10; Paul VI Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Nos 92, 93, 24 June 1962 in AAS, 59 (1967), pp. 693-694; CBCN, A Priest Forever, pp 13-14,: “Bishops to foster and encourage a spirit of unity and harmony between themselves and priests so that obedience is elicited and not only commanded”.
 Simon A. Okafor, “Pastoral Exhortation: Awka Diocese in the Third Millennium of Christianity,” Message at Location, September 3, 2001, p. 2.
 Cf. also CIC/83, can 618 ; Ladislaus Orsy, Theology and Canon Law, p. 30: “In looking at the structures of the Church we see a need for the horizon of service, as distinct from the horizon of power. The new Code stresses the ‘sacred power’ in the form of the potestas regiminis, but for such power to be well placed and to operate satisfactorily, in the practical life of the Church it must be consistently balanced by the duty to serve”.
 Some authors have supported this view by holding that power is not for domination but for service (Cf. John Paul II, Apostolos Suos, No. 12; Edmund Hill, Ministry and Authority in the Catholic Church, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1988, pp. 11-31.
 LG 24, 27; and quoting Lumen Gentium No. 3 John Paul II sees the expression of hierarchical authority as service as foremost among the constitutional image of the Church (Cf. Sacra disciplinae leges, cit., p. xiv).
 Collins Okeke,” Personalizing One’s Vocation: THE Great Challenge to the Nigerian Priests and Religious of the 3rd Millennium” paper to Nigerian Priests and Religious in Rom, Sunday March 18, 2001, p. 21.
 Rom 2: 19-24.
 Paul VI, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, no 43; Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community, no. 27, p. 45: “This pastoral renewal will not be possible unless inspired, sustained and activated by priests imbued by this same spirit.”
 John Paul II, Address to the Parish Priests and Clergy of Rome, 1 March 2001, n. 3; see also John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio inuente, 6 January 2001, no. 33.
 CBCN, I chose You: The Nigerian Priest in the Third Millennium, cit., no. 19, p. 17, also p. 13.
 Redemptoris Missio, No 1.
 Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Pastoral Guide for Diocesan Priests in Churches Dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, no. 6.
 Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Pastoral Guide for Diocesan Priests in Churches Dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, no26, p. 65; PO 8; CBCN, I chose You: The Nigerian Priest in the Third Millennium, no 21, p. 21; EIA no 97;
 Cf. Apostolorum Successores 160
 See John Paul II, Sacra Disciplinae leges; Pastores Gregis 42, 43 and Apostolorum Successores, 2, 158
 See John Paul II, Sacra Disciplinae leges; Pastores Gregis 42, 43 and Apostolorum Successores, 2, 158
 Chukwudum B. Okolo, “Justice in the Nigerian Church…,” cit., p. 13.
 Apostolorum Successores 77, pp. 85-86.
 CIC/1983, can 384; see also cann 281; 1274.
 Phil 2, 1-5.