NFCS HOW IT ALL STARTED
Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS) is a body encompassing catholic students in all high institutions of learning. Its history can be traced back to 1920 when the idea of catholic students unionism came up; an internal catholic study union (ICSU) was created in swiss with George de Montenach as the president to deepen the urgency for reconciliation in a world torn apart by the first world war. During the late 1920s, the students society charged its President; Montenach, secretary; Max Gressly and father Tschunor to deepen the contacts with other student group, Dr. Gerald Brom, the then General Secretary of the Netherlands Catholic Association of Students responded quickly to this effort and a coalition of the students from three neutral countries during the war was created; Switzerland, Holland and Spain.
Another chapter was created in early 1921 after a meeting between Max Gressly and Dr. Brom when it was decided to gather together the different associations of the students in July 1921. Mr. Gressly sought approval from the Vatican for this effort and on June 5th, 1921 Pietro Cardinal Gasparri conveyed the approval of the Vatican for this effort. On July 19th, 1921, student leaders from twenty three countries from all over war torn Europe, the United States, Argentina and Java (Indonesia) met in Fribourg, Switzerland for the first Pax Romana Congress. Peace was the central theme of this meeting as the students wanted to bring reconciliation to a world torn apart by war.
At the end of the meeting, the congress decided to create an International Secretariat under the name “PAX ROMANA” (Peace in Rome) with the idea that the students could work to build peace in the world under the motto of “Pax Christi in Regno Christi”. At the congress which was termed as the first, Max Gressly was elected as the first President of Pax Romana with Abbe Johannes Tschuor as Secretary General. In 1925, Pax Romana was defined as “a Catholic Confederation of Students from all over the world” with the aims to include and represent all legitimate forms of catholic organizations in the University world and to serve as an instrument of co-ordination for all their varied activities while leaving to each organization complete freedom to develop its own mystique and methods consisting with its own ends.
In 1949, Pax Romana (ICMICA) gave birth to Pax Romana (IMCS) to strengthen and develop new national catholic Students federations in Latin America, Africa and Asia; IMCS acronym for International Movement of Catholic Students. In the 1970s, IMCS grew closer to IYCS (International Young Catholic Students), this would be both enriching and challenging, in 1978, they both established a joint Religious activity in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East; to strengthen this collaboration, IMCS held it’s IFA in conjunction with IYCS in Valladolid, Spain. There the two movements examined their relationship taking into consideration their commonalities and differences. As part of this relationship, the IMCS International Secretariat left its long time home in Fribourg Switzerland to share space with IYCS in PARIS France. At the African regional level, the movement is coordinated by the IMCS Pan African body based in Nairobi, Kenya. A coordinating team which comprise of two elected coordinators (one with Anglophone experience and the other with Francophone experience) and the Chaplains run the African regional office. Each of the affiliated or corresponding national movements/federations is represented in the PAN African assembly which is the Supreme decision making body of the African IMCS.
BIRTH OF NFCS
Following the establishment of different catholic federations in various parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia all affiliated to the IMCS, Nigeria was not left out. In 1956, a group of Students from the University college Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) and Yaba High School (now Yaba College of Technology) under the leadership of the late (Sir) Prof. Ambrose Alli, (former Governor of the defunct Bendel State and who is now remembered as the first National President of NFCS up till 1963) thought it necessary to form a parallel organization that will serve as a national branch of the International body. This inspired the formation of this federation as the Nigeria federation of Catholic Students (NFCS) in order to adopt some of the International tenets to the situation in Nigeria; Hence its affiliation to IMCS.
NFCS is governed at the national level by the National officers assisted by members of the National executive council (NEC) which comprise of Presidents and Secretaries of all the Nine (9) ecclesiastical provinces within the country. The national executives relates to the province, the province relates to the Zones while the zones relates to the Chapters but since the chapter Secretaries and Presidents are part of the provincial executives sometimes the zonal level is usually ignored in some provinces.
In 1998, St. Albert “The Great” was unanimously chosen by the Catholic Bishops` Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) as the patron saint of the National Body of NFCS, hence his feast day (November 15th) is declared as NFCS National Day which is celebrated nationwide.
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