Archbishop Okeke Marks 70th Birthday, Promotes Oneness Among Christians

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By Julie Sylvia, Onitsha

His Grace, Most Rev, Dr Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Province, has celebrated his 70th birthday at Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Onitsha where he urged Christians to be one, as demanded by the scripture, for all may be one.

Archbishop Okeke who stated this immediately after the mass service added, “You can see that today, our brothers from other regions also gathered here for this thanks-giving, here, we work and pray like a family, we are first of all, children of God, secondly, we are children of Anambra State.

“We want the best for our people, whatever church you are going, try to be your brother’s keeper, don’t kill your brother, try to bring love to yourselves, it is ecumenism of God that is working because God prayed that all may be one.

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“Even if you are not from the same denomination, try to be in spirit of love, charity, don’t cheat, oppress or marginalise your brothers”.

In his speech, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP in the last presidential election and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi prayed for the Archbishop saying that “All we are praying is that the Almighty, with the good work and revolution you started and to everyone of us working as a family under you, will continue to contribute our own quarter to ensure that the greatest of this, is that we must see the revolution of this Shanaham University and must see all the success of all revolution started here.

” Nothing else to add to humanity except the work you are doing, and may the Almighty who is pleased to use you to continue to use you, for your last day, sure, you have already have a place on the last day”.

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In the same vein, in an address presented by the Clergy, Religious and Laity of Onitsha Archdiocese to Most Rev Valerian Okeke, it read in part thus, “Indeed, your toiling for the success of your Archdiocese which towers higher than any other can be seen in the wrinkles and wears on your face.

“Just like Mother Theresa of Calcutta was sent to say that the wrinkles on her face and body were the sufferings of the poor which she bears on her body.

”Right from 20th October,1953 when you were birth into this terrestrial habitat, you have precociously manifested signs of a dogged and focused young man, glitteringly obvious enough to qualify you as a prodigy.

” In Archdiocese and beyond, your prodigious achievements, ranging from human capital development, hospital revamping, schools rehabilitation, increased access to sacrament through creation of more parishes, increased dialogue with the government.

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Others are unrivaled affinity with the poor, prisoners, the sick and needy, the downtrodden etc are indeed great treasures which you have bequeathed to this great Archdiocese in these years of your episcopacy.

“You are about to emancipate Onitsha Metropolis from the perception of rascality with the creation of a milestone achievement, the Shanaham university, for this, Onitsha and Anambra State including the forebears will be forever be grateful and indepted to you”.

Dignitaries who graced the occasion included, Bishop Francis Adesina, Bishop of Ijebuode, Bishop Isaac Dugu, Bishop of Katsina Allah, Auxiliary Bishop of Calabar, Bishop Christopher Nasari, Bishop Peter Chukwu of Abakaliki, the homilist, Bishop Solomon Amatu, Bishop of Umuahia, Bishop Owen Nwokolo, Bishop on the Niger, among others.

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