BY
SAM OBIDILE, KSM; KTSS – CONFIDENTIAL SECRETARY TO THE ARCHBISHOP.

I write to congratulate our beloved Archbishop on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of his priestly ordination coming up on 17th July, 2021. As one closely associated with him, since I knew him when he was ordained priest in 1981 and posted to the Holy Trinity Cathedral as a curate under Rt Rev. Msgr. Emmanuel Otteh of the blessed memory, who was the Cathedral Administrator then, I have every reason to thank God for him. Also the impression of his love and contagious smile have not left me since then!
I am particularly glad to watch him grow and arrive to where he is today. His next assignment was to Umuoji as Parish Priest from 1983 to 1986. These years were marked as a period of love between the Parish Priest and his parishioners. His reminiscences of the parish were those of peace, harmony and active participation in liturgy.
He left Umuoji in 1986 when he had to go to Rome for further studies. At Rome, he studied moral theology in the Alphonsian Atenaeum, and philosophy in St Aquinas Pontifical University (Angelicum). His tireless efforts were rewarded with PhD in moral Theology and complete program in Philosophy. He also earned Diploma in French and German from the Catholic Institute of Paris, France and German Centre for language and culture in Bonn, Germany. On his return, he was posted to teach Moral Theology and ethics in the Bigard memorial Seminary, Enugu from 1991 to 1996 when he was appointed the Rector Magnicus of the same Seminary. In November, 2001 we received the joyful news of his elevation to Coadjutor Archbishop of Onitsha with the right of succession to the See of Onitsha.
In the two major assignments since his priestly ordination, he was fortunate to walk in the footsteps of great predecessors of Church institutions.
As the Rector of the Bigard Seminary, he stepped into the shoes of great Rectors of reputations: Very Rev. Fr. James Oneil, CSSp, Rev. Fr. D.O Sullivan, Msgr John Ogbonna, Very Rev. Fr. P.D Akpunonu etc., and he did very well as Rector.
Now in the second assignment as the Archbishop of Onitsha, when he looks at the Bishops who had sat on this Chair since 1920 – Bishop Joseph Shanahan , Archbishop Charles Heerey, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya and Archbishop A.K Obiefuna, he has no cause for fear!
One of the secrets of their success was sitting long on this chair which enabled them plan and execute their pastoral initiatives. Since he became the Archbishop of Onitsha, he has vigorously pursued with viable success and enviable mark of excellence the spiritual, pastoral, social and infrastructural transformation and development of the entire Archdiocese of Onitsha. God has used him as a veritable instrument to achieve undeniably huge dividends for the common good of all men and for the kingdom of God. Living up to his motto, “That they may have life”.
We pray for our Archbishop to stay longer for the greater glory of God.
Finally, we pray that the good Lord who called our great Archbishop to His service and has sustained him all these years will continue to give him even greater assistance in the task and pastoral challenges of his present office as the Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province – Amen.
To God be the glory!

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