- Willie Obiano,Ngige,Umeh,Soludo,Ekwunife,Oduah,others pay tribute.
By Ononye VC/Nna Anulummadu
The Archbishop of Onitsha,Most Rev Valerian Maduka Okeke has clocked 19 years of his Episcopacy as the Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province.
He was consecrated Coadjutor Archbishop of Onitsha on February 09,2002 and became the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Onitsha on September 01,2003
He is a member of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference (CBCN)of Nigeria.
The Archbishop celebrated his 19th Episcopal anniversary almost unnoticed but celebrated an early morning mass at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha with a small group of the Basilica family comprising priests,religious and the lay faithful.
Former Central Bank Governor Mr Charles Chukwuma Soludo was spotted among few dignitaries who attended the early morning thanksgiving mass.
In a brief remark,Archbishop Valerian Okeke said”it is a thing of mystery to us and gratitude to God that I was ordained to serve as an Archbishop 19 years ago.
I thank God for his kindness and mercy, for his numerous blessings on us in this work; I thank all those assisting me in this work, through prayers and different supports, I pray God to give all special blessings for your supports and assistance. I pray also for the community in which we live, and all those who always want to remain anonymous but silently assisting us. I pray God to receive our thanksgiving and complete what is remaining in our prayers, and may the future blessings be greater than the past. And may our work bring fulfilment and blessings to the people, more than we can ever imagine, through Christ our Lord”.
Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Very Rev Fr Prudentius Emeka Aroh in a remark,said,
“It has been 19 years of dedication to the promotion of life and goodness. Every single day of his episcopacy has been guided by his motto: “that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). His solid faith in God and sincere love for humanity have been the foundation and inspiration of his episcopal ministry for these 19 years”.
The Confidential Secretary to the Archbishop, Sir Sam Obidile eulogised the Archbishop saying his Episcopacy in the past 19 years has been one full of positive and glorious achievements.
Also in his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Very Rev Fr Basil Ekwunife while paying tribute the Archbishop described him as ” an achiever,a mover and motivator,generous and an inspirational leader”.He wished him longer life and more fruitful years of Episcopacy.
Streams of goodwill messages were received at the Archdiocesan Secretariat to wish the Archbishop well on his 19th Episcopal anniversary.
Some of the early callers are,the Governor of Anambra State,Chief Sir Willie Obiano,his Chief of Staff,former Central Bank Governor His Excellency Chukwuma Soludo,former APGA national chairman Senator (Sir) Victor Umeh OFR,Sir Damian Okolo,(Iyom)Senator Uche Ekwunife,His Excellency Dr (Sir)Chris Ngige OON,Senator Stella Oduah,Dr Obiora Okonkwo and Hon Dr Chris Azubogu.
Others are,the Chairman of Catholic Lawyers Association Onitsha,Barr Azubike Anazor,Director General of Catholic Women Organisation Archdiocese of Onitsha Dame Ngozi Nwanosike, the President General,Catholic Men Organisation (CWO) Archdiocese of Onitsha,Sir Ifeanyi Nnajiaku and the Chairman of Archdiocesan Laity Council, Engr Leo Obiefuna.
Others are,former Chairman of South East Manufacturers Association, Sir Azubike Okafor,CWO mother General Dame VVI Okoye,former CWO Director General Archdiocese of Onitsha Dame Beatrice Madueke,CEO of Odumegwu Ojukwu (Anambra) University Teaching Hospital,Awka Dr Basil Nwankwo,Sir Ikem Osanakpo, Grand Knight of KSM Basilica Subcouncil,Onitsha,Dr Gabby Nwankwo and Grand Knight of St Mary’s Subcouncil, Onitsha, Sir Joseph Epundu.
Meanwhile, various parishes in the Archdiocese celebrated special masses in thanksgiving to God for sustaining the Archbishop and bestowing special blessings on him for attainment of his goals and objectives.