By Ononye VC
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha,Most Rev Valerian Okeke on Tuesday,5th December 2023,led the entire priests,Religious and the lay faithful in marking the 138 anniversary of the arrival of early missionaries in Onitsha.
Though their were no special activities to mark the event,masses were celebrated in various parishes in thanksgiving to God,as directed by the Archbishop who also celebrated quietly at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity,Onitsha.It also marked the dedication of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity,Onitsha after it’s elevation to a Basilica.
It would be recalled that early missionaries led by Fr Joseph Lutz arrived the soil of Onitsha 138 years ago to commence spread of the Gospel which spread across Southern Nigeria and beyond.
His successors like Bishop Ignatius Shanahan and Archbishop Heerey,took the baton and made indelible footprints from where our successive indigenous bishops up to the incumbent Archbishop Valerian Okeke has not only kept the faith but has made gigantic steps forward particularly with the establishment of the new Shanahan University,Onitsha.
In a statement on Tuesday, Archbishop Valerian Okeke said,
“Today, 5th December, marks exactly 138 years, the early missionaries, led by Fr. Joseph Lutz, arrived Onitsha to bring the faith to our Land. Today also is the anniversary of the dedication of our Basilica Church. These our fathers in faith sowed this seed of faith in our land with their sweat and blood.
And the sacrifices of their lives, gave rise to this great Basilica standing in our midst today, and richly blessed by the Lord. We thank God for this great gift of faith and the blessing of the Cathedral Basilica Church. As we honour these zealous missionaries today, we pray that this faith handed to us with their sweat and blood, shall not die in our hands”.