In a homily last week, Cdl. John Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, called on Nigeria's Catholics to redouble evangelization efforts through peaceful persuasion and steadfastly living out the Gospel message.
The mission of Nigeria's Catholics, Onaiyekan affirmed, entails "doing our best to propagate openly the Gospel of Jesus and to welcome all who freely accept faith in Jesus."
"This is," the cardinal reminded parishioners, "a mandate from our Lord."
But, Onaiyekan cautioned, propagation of faith "must be carried out strictly with the rules of nonviolence, justice, freedom and sincerity before God. This is not only possible but also necessary for peace to reign in our land."
Nigeria has been wracked by Islamist violence in recent years. Since 2009, Boko Haram, an ISIS-affiliated band of terrorists, has devastated wide swaths of the country's northeast, slaughtering thousands of Christians and displacing 2.3 million Nigerians.
Looking past Boko Haram's grim tally, Onaiyekan counseled the country's Catholics against focusing excessively on Islamization, urging them to instead win souls through the example of how they live their everyday lives.
"We must also endeavor to generate a critical mass," he noted, "of witnesses to truth, justice and love, who, in collaboration with other men and women of goodwill, can make a positive impact in our society."
The fight for the soul of Nigeria is more than a contest between faiths for numbers, Onaiyekan pointed out. Instead, at the individual level, it's an ongoing battle to allow God to transform one's heart.
"Evangelization, spreading the Good News, does entail but goes beyond making converts and swelling the statistics of our church membership," he advised.
"The Lord will judge the success of our mission, not primarily on the quantity and numbers of our membership, or the splendor of our physical structures, but most importantly by the quality of faith and witness of our people," he continued.
The Church in Nigeria is thriving. The number of Catholics is now at more than 24 million, and conversions are on the rise. Vocations are surging. The country's bishops are noted for their fidelity to Catholic teaching and have spurned the heterodoxy that has taken hold across much of the West.
During this centenary year of Fatima, Nigeria's bishops are urging a renewal of devotion to the Virgin Mary, asking her to intercede "to save our country from social evils."
Owing to its large and growing population, the country is a frequent target of contraception and abortion campaigns funded by the West.