TChidee: Model of a Gregarious Christian Youth
Today was supposed to be his 27th birthday on earth, but God called him about six months ago to enjoy this day with him in eternity. In what follows, I will be reflecting on an aspect of his life as a young man, a vibrant Spiritan and model of a gregarious Christian youth.
Rev. Chidiebere Cosmas Aguocha, C.S.Sp., is the name but TChidee is his brand name. Born on this day 1992 in Maiduguri to the family of Mr & Mrs Aguocha of Nguru Ngor-Okpala in Imo State. Having the desire to be a Catholic Priest, he joined the Holy Ghost Congregation (Spiritans) and was professed 9th September 2017. He then slept in the Lord on July 27, 2018. He was a music lover, ardent Chelsea fan, a creative and intelligent young man and a “social perfect” as some of his colleagues call him. It is his social life which is connected to his balanced spiritual life that I have chosen to reflect on as a model for Christian youths who are sociable and gregarious.
To be gregarious is to seek and enjoy the company of others. Many young people fall under this category. This type of personality finds it easy to mingle with people, make friends and recreate. When used in a negative way, it can lead one into bad influence, negative peer pressure and crime. When used positively and driven by the spirit of God, as seen in the life of TChidee, it can be a veritable missionary personality for salus animarum (salvation of souls)
One might wonder if being gregarious is a Christian virtue. Yes, it is and there are Catholic saints who have been identified for their gregariousness. In that category are St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. Philip Neri. Philip, like TChidee devoted his life to God through prayer and service, but he had fun doing it! He was a gregarious fellow. He loved music, gathering people together for discussions and prayer, and the word on the street was that he had a wicked sense of humour. This is not so different with the life of TChidee who loved music (he was a keyboardist and choral singer), who discussed Christian ideas and principles through his chats and social media handles and who had a “wicked sense of humour”. In his humour, TChidee would always call his friends with the words… Nwanne wah here. This is a combination of Igbo, Yoruba and English – it means brother/sister come here. (It is good to remark here that TChidee speaks Igbo, Hausa and English fluently)
Every young person with this type of personality must remember it is a gift of God that must be cherished and harnessed for the sake of the kingdom. Using the life of TChidee as a model, the gregarious Christian youth should put the following into consideration.
Make your Voice Heard:
TChidee cannot be in a place for 24hours without his gregariousness been noticed. His voice would always be heard. Truth is, it is not about the length of years, rather the impact made within the few years spent on earth. A better world is built by creativity and efforts not merely the length of age. Thus, the gregarious Christian youth is not to be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices, nor delay the voice of God through the conscience. The world wants to listen to the voice of youths, their doubts and criticism. The Church wants to hear the voice of the youth, their participation and creativity in the liturgy. Have you ever been to a liturgical celebration with a vibrant youth choir? You will feel their exuberance! The gregarious youth brings a fresh perspective on things. Some older people might be too stuck on outdated ideas, and that is not good for a living Church. The Church wants more young people in leadership; Joel 3: 2 testifies that “young men shall dream dreams”. They have to share those beautiful dreams they have. Even St. Benedict had to urge the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3). Be active, let your voice be heard.
Set Towards the Future with Hope:
When TChidee left Maiduguri to join Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, his one desire was to serve God even if it for a moment. This desire made him stay away from his family until his dad eventually returned to Owerri. TChidee was ready to be out of the home as long as it is for God’s service. He looked into the future with hope. In Gen 12:1, God spoke to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”. That is the word of God the father who invites we the young people to set out towards the future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, to the destination God has promised. When God said to Abram, “Go!” what did he want to say? He certainly never meant that he forgets his family, his academic responsibilities or withdraw from the world. The invitation was a challenge to leave everything for the new land. That new land is the destiny which every young person seeking to achieve. It is not a place of the threat of violence, enslavement of any sort, sexual immorality, ritual killing and corruption of any sort. It is a place where we are at the service of God and humanity, where we find peace and hope. Therefore, the gregarious Christian youth while on the journey of life must listen to the voice of God in his/her inner self. Even when we feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God still wants us to go where He sends us: “Do not be afraid . . . because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).
Leave a Mark:
Those who have encountered TChidee personally would acknowledge that he left a memorable mark in the lives of all who met him – even if the meeting was for 20 minutes. He has a way beaming out smiles and taking selfies with confreres, brother or sister around him. It is not surprising that he left his image in almost everyone’s phone before he slept in the Lord. We live in hard times now, like the people of Israel on exile in the desert. A lot of worries, pains and heartbreaks becloud us and many of us already feel abandoned and hopeless. The desert is a difficult place to live but it is through the desert that the people of Israel walked to their homeland, where their hope and smile were restored. Life, is often a desert, at times it gets so hard to survive, but if we entrust ourselves to God it can become beautiful and wide like a highway. Therefore, we are not to lose hope, we are to continue to believe, always, and continue to leave beautiful marks. “We did not come into this world to make our lives a comfortable couch to fall asleep on”, said Pope Francis. “No, we came for another reason to leave a mark”. Our smile could be the mark we will leave for a worried friend. It can bring healing to the depressed and comfort to the mourner. Remember, there is no sad saint. One of the trademarks of those who break away from God, Pope Francis said, is “the absence of the smile, the smile of the hope of finding God.” A gregarious Christian youth must at least share a smile to those who encounter him or her.
To all Christian youths, gregarious or not, I would leave this Pope Francis’ message for you:
Do not let your youth be stolen from you. Do not allow anyone to slow and obscure the light that Christ puts in your face and in your heart. Be weavers of relationships signed by trust, by sharing, by openness even to ends of the world. Do not raise walls of division: do not raise walls of the division! Build bridges, like this extraordinary one that you are crossing in spirit, and that links the shores of two oceans.
Indeed, TChidee is a model of a gregarious Christian youth. His life though it seems short made a huge impact in the lives of those around who met him – both young and old. You do not have to be moody to be a saint, an extrovert can be a saint too. May every youth emulate this happy and cheerful lifestyle.
At this point, I would follow TChidee’s way of ending his social media write-ups by the hashtag #GODBLESSUS.