THE MOTTO AND THE COAT OF ARMS OF MOST REV. WILLIAM AVENYA, BISHOP, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF GBOKO
Coats of arms have been in use by cities, families and individuals since the time of the Greeks. These coats of arms are not only marks of identity but also a representation of what their users stand for. A coat of arms contains a statement of commitment or vision called the motto; it also has images and colours which are the symbolic mode of expression.
The Church took up the practice of making and using coat of arms as a mark of identity and symbol of authority. The Bishops’ coat of arms has the following features. The first is the shepherd’s hat, which is a constant reminder that the Bishop is a shepherd, a pastor imitating Jesus Christ, who is charged with the responsibility of leading God’s people to restful waters (Psalm 23). The second is the shield, the sword and the priestly cincture (cord) showing that the bishop is a shepherd of a pilgrim Church, the Church militant, who needs the shield of faith, the sword of the Word of God and the belt of truth to triumph ( Eph 6:14-17).
Bishop Avenya’s coat of Arms has a shield over which is a cross, ingrained with the five wounds of Christ. This indicates the reality of his pastoral responsibility and discipleship as a participation in the cross of Christ with its implications of sacrificial love and service.
Over the shield are two prominent images:
- An M, the initial for Mary, our Mother of Perpetual help, on whom the Bishop, as the shepherd of the Diocese must constantly call upon for help.
- Three prominent wavy lines imaging a four-fold tapestry of symbols, namely,
- Three bold lines representing the Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit, from whose strength the Bishop depends.
- The wavy lines also symbolize God’s power and strength over all.
- The two main Rivers that water the Benue valley, Rivers Benue and Katsina-Ala are represented here by two middle lines symbolizing both the Pastoral and natural fertility and productivity of The Benue.
- The Black and White lines symbolize and embody the Tiv identity, the ethnic group of the Bishop.
- The Shield itself, inspired by the shield of the alma mater of the Bishop (Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi), emphasizes the importance of education as the foundational industry for the people.
The Motto of Bishop Avenya:
“Deus fortitudo mea” (in Latin)
“God is my Strength” (in English) and
“Aondo ka Agee am” (in Tiv) is a great statement of conviction and commitment of his vision and mission, that unites all the motifs in his coat of arms.
The Bishop’s Coat of Arms and Motto portray that a shepherd of the Lord in this fertile Benue Valley, while constantly imploring the perpetual help of Mary the Mother of God, must fix his eyes on the Cross of Christ, and depend totally on the strength and power of God.