- expresses gratitude to God for His graces on him and other celebrants
- showers of congratulatory messages herald anniversary
By Ononye VC
The Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province,His Grace most Reverend Valerian Maduka Okeke has clocked 42 years as a priest.
He was ordained priest on July 11 1981 at the then Holy Trinity Cathedral(now Cathedral Basilica of the most Holy Trinity) by the then Archbishop of Onitsha,most Rev Francis Arinze(now Francis Cardinal Arinze)
Though his 42nd priestly anniversary is celebrated low key,a shower of congratulatory messages have been pouring in to felicitate the Archbishop from family members,friends,parishes,priests,the faithful and many other well wishers.
The Archbishop as usual is marking his anniversary with a thanksgiving mass.
It is no mean feat that after his ordination,the then Rev fr Valerian Okeke,a slim,fragile and amiable personality has attained such an enviable height in his priestly ministry as an Archbishop and also as the Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province covering many other dioceses.
This is marvellous and the Lord’s doing.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Archbishop Valerian Okeke whose priesthood is elevated to the exulted and graceful office of an Archbishop and the Metropolitan of Onitsha Province has recorded tremendous achievements in his chosen vocation of priesthood.
On his 42nd anniversary, Archbishop Okeke has come a long way and has profoundly demonstrated his capability and sagacity on the mission and duties bestowed on him as a priest of God.
On the 42nd anniversary of his priesthood, Archbishop Okeke has exhibited immense leadership qualities in his ministry and in the priesthood which has indelibly impressed the entire people of God across the length and breath of the Archdiocese,the Ecclesiastical Province and in the diaspora.
Archbishop Valerian Okeke has for 42 years of his priesthood,shared profoundly in the anxieties,hopes,aspirations and successes of his flock and also given hope and Succour to many.
His attainments as a priest and achievements as a true shepherd of his large flock are enobling, compellingly admirable and encouraging.
For a man who believes in excellence,hardwork and reward, Archbishop Okeke’s Episcopal philosophy and motto,”That they may have life” (John 10:10),looms large and puts him in an uncommon pedestal in priesthood.
As a priest ordained 42 years ago,the Archbishop has been on a fast lane with indelible footprints trailing his path.
An indomitable and indefatigable pastor, Archbishop Okeke has never wavered in his bid to achieve his dream no matter how difficult.
His doggedness and determination started early in his priesthood before his episcopacy and came to a climax at the realisation of his vision of establishing a University of Science and Technology to underscore his vision of excellence in education and good character among young people and other classes of people.
Today,we can count a number but not all of the Archbishop’s achievements as follows;
He convoked the first and second synod’s of the Archdiocese of Onitsha and chatted a clear way for progress of the Archdiocese.
He elevated the Holy Trinity Cathedral to a Basilica thus raising it to the one and only Basilica in Nigeria.
The Archbishop erected the Holy Family Youth Village where university students lived and studied in conducive environment as many left school with excellent records.
He founded the Radio and TV Sapientia which is arguably the best in South East of Nigeria.
In the health sector, Archbishop Okeke elevated the St Charles Borromeo Hospital to a Teaching Hospital with a first class school of nursing as well as raised the standard of other diocesan hospitals in the Archdiocese.
In the education sector,the Archbishop’s strides are novel with the new Shanahan University on board to crown it all.
On human resources development, Archbishop Valerian Okeke uplifted many through education,employment,scholarships and works of charity.
He erected the Oluchukwu Micro Finance Bank and the Oil and Gas filling stations.
What of other humanitarian aids he rendered to flood victims and Covid-19 pandemic palliatives to the less privileged.
The Archbishop is described widely in the local parlance as “Oje mba enwe ilo” meaning,one who travels beyond boarders without an enemy.
He has been able to make good friends locally and internationally.
With that,he has been able to attract international investors to the Archdiocese as well as philanthropists who contributed generously to develop the Archdiocese.
The Archbishop’s priestly ministry has been anchored on peace and harmony where priests,the religious and faithful happily benefitted spiritually and materially and have cause to cooperate with him,contribute their best and celebrate him whenever it is necessary.
Meanwhile,the Archbishop in a statement expressed gratitude to God and appreciation to all for his 42nd priestly anniversary.
The Archbishop said,”I thank God in a special way for the gift of the priesthood,as I celebrate the 42nd Anniversary of my priestly consecration.I most sincerely call for your prayers.For all the priests celebrating their anniversaries also,I share your joy as you celebrate the anniversaries of your priestly consecration also.I pray that the Good Lord who has called us to this exulted office,continue to grant us the enabling graces to be less unworthy of this great privilege”.