By Nna Anulumadu
The Catholic Bishops of Awka/ Ekwulobia dioceses His Lordship Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, and Most Reverend Peter Okpaleke respectively last Friday poured encomiums on Valentine Ozigbo for remembering and supporting the elderly priests.
The prelates rained the accolades during the Easter dinner party for the elderly priests hosted by Valentine Chineto Ozigbo ( VCO) Foundation on Friday, April 9, 2021 at Awka Diocesan old priests welfare home.
In his Homily during the Holy Mass that kick-started the tevent, Bishop Ezeokafor hyped on the importance of visiting the old priests who have exhausted all their strengths and years in service to God and humanity, adding that it is sacrosanct to encourage and appreciate them always.
He commended Ozigbo’s initiative, describing the singular act as a huge succor to the elderly priests. His words: ” It take a lot to keep the the old priests. We encourage others to follow the foot steps of Ozigbo in supporting the elderly Reverend fathers because t they have worked for us and now needed our utmost care and support.
In his address, Mr Ozigbo, an exceptional philanthropist expressed his excitement for the opportunity to host the event. The respected business leader revealed that he considered it “a great privilege” to be hosting the elderly priests.
“One of the reasons why I decided to do this was because I recognise the need to extend the celebration of Easter to the retired clergymen who have spent their lives edifying us and adding value to the body of Christ,” Ozigbo said.
“Easter is the most important event in the history of Christianity. It is only right that we celebrate the season with these deserving servants whose lives have been devoted to serving in the Lord’s vineyard.
“Asides from this, I am lucky to have my parents still alive and healthy. My father, Andrew, is 92 years old and my mother, Christiana, is 86 years old, and together they’ve been married for 65 years.
“As the last of seven children, I have always received unconditional love and I’ve strived to show them the same kind of love they’ve given me in their old age. So I thought it important to extend that same gesture to our spiritual fathers,” Ozigbo added.
The event witnessed performances by the host choir from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Awka, and the VCO Foundation Choir, led by Osita Nkemchor.
A minute’s silence was observed in honour of Mr Kamsi Okonkwo, a member of the VCO Youth Movement who lost his life in a fatal accident this week, and other Reverend Fathers who have died in the past few months.
While speaking at the event, the Director of the Priests Welfare Home, Awka, Father Emmanuel Udu thanked Mr Ozigbo for his uncommon vision and commitment to the body of Christ.
Rev Fr Udu appreciated Mr Ozigbo for sponsoring the event and making out time to be physically present and merry with the elderly fathers.
The well-attended event was graced by Mr Augustine Ibeme, a long-time financier of the welfare home; Sir Willie Nwokoye, the Principal Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State; the Very Reverend Father Charles Umeorji, the Vicar for Priests in Ekwulobia Diocese; Very Reverend Father Peter Val Uzozie, the Chairman of the Awka Diocesan Priests.
Ozigbo, a leading governorship aspirant in Anambra, was accompanied by several senior members of his campaign team, including Rt. Hon. Eucharia Azodo, a former Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly and a two-time member of the Federal House of Representatives; Hon Tim Egboka, a former member of the Anambra State House of Assembly; Chief Tony Offiah, a PDP stalwart; Lady Juliet Anaeme; Comrade Innocent Ugwo, the leader of the VCO Youth Movement, and many others.
Valentine Ozigbo is the founder of Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation, one of Nigeria’s leading non-profit organizations which focuses on women and youth empowerment. Through its various programmes, it has touched the lives of over 100,000 people in Anambra State.