Based on his motto, “To give abundant life”, Archbishop Okeke has greatly supported both education and health sectors in Nigeria during the past 20 years of his Episcopacy, Bishop Onah said about the Nigerian Archbishop who was ordained a Bishop on 9 February 2002.
“Archbishop Okeke has reached out immensely to millions of people in the past twenty years of his episcopacy in the areas of education, medicals, the prisons, and through the many youth empowerment programs he has embarked upon,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said.
In the homily, Bishop Onah also described the Local Ordinary of Onitsha Archdiocese as “a man of faith, prayer, practical charity, who had absolute trust in divine providence and great trust in his Priests.”
He spoke about the importance of prayer and encouraged Priests not to neglect their prayer life saying that Archbishop Okeke survived many attacks he encountered in his pastoral duties because of his prayerful life.
The Bishop who has been at the helm of Nsukka Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in July 2013 noted that other challenges faced by Priests can easily be noticed by the public apart from their failing prayer life, which he said can only be noticed after a bad manifestation.
Explaining the need for a prayerful life for a true shepherd, the Nigerian Bishop alluded to Pope Francis’ admonition that a shepherd lays down his life by consciously remaining in close union with the flock entrusted to his care in order to smell like them.
“Archbishop Okeke is a pastor who remains close to his flock and meets them at the peripheries even at the risk of being bruised,” Bishop Onah said during the February 11 event that was attended by over 400 Priests.
Six Catholic Archbishops and 29 Bishops as well as the Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Filipazzi, graced the Anniversary celebration.
Bishop Onah further spoke about the participation of Archbishop Okeke in ensuring political stability and peace in Nigeria’s Anambra State, which he said entailed the Archbishop sacrificing his time by moving out of his comfort zone.
“Playing this role, which is unknown to many people, has not been easy in any way, but has yielded great dividends for the general good of the State and the people,” Bishop Onah said, and added, “Thank God for your courage … the courage that is not accidental but comes from deep faith in God. The ripples of your effort are felt not only in Anambra, but worldwide.”