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As Catholic Archbishop Celebrates 69th Birthday In Onitsha Prison

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From Mokwugwo Solomon, Awka

The Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, and the Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Valerian Maduaka Okeke, has celebrated his 69th birthday anniversary at the Onitsha Correctional Center, on Sunday, December 25, 2022, where he marked the occasion with more than 800 inmates of the prison, officials and Catholic faithful.

Prominent among those that attended the celebration include the wife of former governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs) Ebelechukwu Obiano; who is the APGA senatorial candidate for Anambra North; Hon. Edy Ibuzo, APGA candidate for Onitsha federal constituency, Anambra State Controller of Nigerian Correctional Center, Mr. Pat Chukwuemeka, Deputy Controller of Corrections in Onitsha Correctional Center, Mr. Michael Anukwa; among others.

In his homily during the holy Mass that took place at St. Maximilian Kolbe Chapel, Onitsha Correctional Center, the Archbishop enjoined the inmates to put their faith in God and always pray and hope for a better future. He told them not to think that being in prison was the worst thing that could happen to anybody since they still have opportunity of rising to a great height.

He also advised them to regard their stay in prison as a period of retreat to build their spiritual life and prepare for a better tomorrow, so that when they come out of prison, they will become great people, especially now that inmates have the opportunity of taking the West African School Certificate Examination and acquire skills that could sustain them in life.

In his vote of thanks, the Anambra State Controller of Corrections, Mr. Pat Chukwuemeka, extolled the Archbishop for various facilities he installed in Onitsha Correctional Center, and for his display of love towards the inmates. He noted that the Archbishop installed borehole, television viewing centres, worship centre, and skills acquisition centre for the inmates.

He also urged the Archbishop and friends of the correctional center to support the educational program of the correctional center.

He said, “We need support for our educational program. The Archbishop has been our spiritual father, and he has been our pillar. We also beg His Grace and friends of this facility to also support the inmates with other material things. The inmates are our sons and daughters. They’re not going to die here. If they are well trained and nurtured here, they will go out as better citizens.”

Highlights of the event were handing over of gift items to the Correctional Center by the Archbishop; as well as cutting of Archbishop’s birthday cake.

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