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April 20, 2024
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His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, during mass to honour his 80th birthday, organised by the Archdiocese of Abuja

Kaigama extols Cardinal Onaiyekan’s contributions to national unity

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By Philomina Attah

The Archbishop of Abuja Diocese of the Catholic Church Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has extolled John Cardinal Onaiyekan for his contributions to national unity.

Kaigama made the commendation in Abuja on Saturday, during a mass to celebrate Onaiyekan’s 80th birthday, organised by the Church to honour him.

According to him, Onaiyekan is known for his desire to preach for peaceful and harmonious coexistence and genuine inter-religious dialogue in Nigeria.

“His inter-religious initiatives are well known today in Nigeria and beyond, and his honest desire for peaceful and harmonious coexistence, and genuine inter-religious dialogue has taken him to different parts of the world.

“The man Onaiyekan is an intellectual colossus, a loyal son of the Church and a patriotic Nigerian. No wonder, the Pope honoured him by making him a Cardinal,” he said.

Kaigama, who described Onaiyekan’s commitment as exceptional, said his dedication to the cause of the Church and his love for Nigeria and Nigerians was what had made him to be known for his characteristic passion and patriotism, especially when he speaks publicly.

“God has blessed Cardinal Onaiyekan with unusual strength and ability to combine so many things at the same time, such as managing a big Metropolitan such as Abuja.

“Being President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the President of what used to be the Association of the Episcopal Conferences of West Africa, as well as the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

“He performed his duties in all these positions with great admiration and excellence.”

Kaigama also appreciated the Catholic faithful for their immense contributions towards the occasion.

“I wish from the bottom of my heart to thank our Abuja Archdiocesan family for making sacrifices during these hard times to contribute towards the making of this occasion.

“To the Archdiocesan Committee for the 80th birthday of His Eminence, under the dynamic and creative leadership of Fr. Chris Inegbenoghu, and the very capable hands he employed to serve on this occasion,” he said.

The Lagos Catholic Archdiocese, Mosgr Aniagu, in a sermon described Cardinal Onaiyekan as unbelievably a humble man who allowed God’s will to guide him anywhere he entered.

Aniagu, who was Onaiyekan’s course mate, said that he discharged every office assignment given to him with distinctions.

“We are celebrating God today because He has been gracious in the life of Onaiyekan.

“We thank God for his life these past years and we wish him well in the years ahead,” he said.

Responding, the celebrant, Cardinal Onaiyekan said that he saw all the messages towards his 80th birthday celebration as farewell, adding that he is paradise ready.

He said that his primary project was to prepare for paradise which he had achieved already in life.

He thanked the Archdiocese of Abuja for the honour to celebrate him, adding that he looks forward to the future which might not be long from now. (NAN)

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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