Use Easter Season to Farm “even if in bags”, Cardinal in Nigeria Says Following Resumption of Rains in His Diocese

Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke of Nigeria's Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia. Credit: Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia

The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia in Nigeria, Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke, is urging the people of God in his Episcopal See to take advantage of the start of the rainy season to practice farming during the Easter period.

In his Easter Message issued Sunday, March 31, Cardinal Okpaleke explains the link between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the practice of farming. 

The initial sign of the risen Lord, the empty tomb of Jesus, the Cardinal says, “directed my thought to agriculture. The tomb was empty not because the body had been stolen or annihilated. Rather, the body taken up when the Word took flesh in the Blessed Virgin Mary) was transformed into a glorious body that could enter a room despite closed doors and windows.”

“Cultivating yam, planting any seed, throws a dim light on the manner of the resurrection. Certainly, it does not explain it. This analogy between the mystery of Easter and agriculture was first made by St. Paul himself,” he says.

The Nigerian Cardinal continues, “As we rejoice at Jesus’ triumph over sin and death in obedience to the Father, let me invite you to use this period which providentially is at the return of the rains and the beginning of the planting season, to participate in the analogous mystery of death and transformation that takes place in the farm.”


“Cultivate something. Sow something, even if in bags, so that God may transform and multiply it for human sustenance. Be generous with leasing out any piece of arable land to someone who wants to cultivate it and re-enact the mystery of God’s transformative act in nature of bringing life out of death,” he says.

The Catholic Church leader, who was among the 20 Cardinals created during the August 2022 Consistory following his naming in May 2022 calls upon Nigerians to “consider supplying seedlings and not only foodstuff to your loved ones to enable them experience once again this mystery.”

“As we do this, may we continue to pray that we may rediscover the power of God active in creation and open ourselves to it,” he says. 

In his 2024 Easter Message, Cardinal Okpaleke expresses his awareness of the myriad of challenges that are driving the people of God in Africa’s most populous nation to the verge of despair.

“In Nigeria today, hope is a scarce commodity. The most basic form of hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better. But presently, such hope, usually articulated in Pidgin English as ‘ego better!’ (it will be better), often elicits a taunt ‘na poor man’s prayer’ (it is the prayer of a poor person),” he says. 

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The Cardinal adds, “This is a statement made in practice that ‘e go better anywhere but no be for Naija’ (a bright future is foreseeable anywhere except in Nigeria).”

“People, especially the young, are therefore doing anything and everything just to leave the shores of Nigeria,” he further says, and continues, “This is the sad reality we find ourselves in. Worse still is that hunger has given a dangerous turn to hopelessness.”

“Many families, especially those of salary earners, can no longer afford food. The purchasing power of their earnings has been reduced drastically by inflation which has also driven up the prices of food and other essentials,” he laments.

The Nigerian Catholic Church leader, who resigned in 2018 following sustained opposition to his Episcopal appointment for Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese further laments that in Nigeria, “Many people have lost sight of the profundity of the mystery of divine involvement therein and how closely it models the Easter mystery.”

“I want us to contemplate this everyday mystery, reinsert ourselves into it, and re-enact it with our hands,” Cardinal Okpaleke says in his 2024 Easter Message. 


He implores, “May God bless you as you experience the transformative power of God in nature and in yourself and may the grace of the risen Lord be with you!”

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