Archbishop Emeritus of Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, on Thursday, described the former Prefect of Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Vatican City, Rome, Francis Cardinal Arinze as an outstanding Legend and an Icon of the Universal Church.
Onaiyekan who spoke while delivering the homily during a concelebrated High Mass to mark the 90th birthday of Cardinal Arinze, said the church of God celebrates Arinze in many ways, first as the Archbishop Emeritus of Onitsha who stirred the church and its people out of the turbulence and ravages of the Nigerian civil war that lasted between 1967 to 1970.
He said Cardinal Arinze also distinguished himself in the service to God and humanity in his tour of duty while in Rome noting that he was destined by God for a great mission on earth.
Describing him as one of the living ancestors of the catholic church, Onaiyekan recalled that Cardinal Arinze’s intellectual prowess started during his seminary days and noted that Nigerians cannot forget the prominent role he played in the Beatification of Blessed Iwene Tansi in Nigeria in the year 1998 when Pope John Paul the 2nd visit Nigeria, even as he expressed hope that he will remain alive to witness the final canonisation of Tansi.
The State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, who was physically present while felicitating with Cardinal Arinze described him as one of the finest which Anambra has given to the world.
“You have been such a great influence and inspiration to the universal world, Anambra State, Nigeria, and to me personally. I recount you had a special mass for me and my predecessor, giving me a message which I will never forget.
“You told me, that while I am in a haste to change the world, I should always remember that the people i deal with, are children of Adam and Eve.”
Soludo also gave special thanks to the Archdiocese of Onitsha, for organizing such an auspicious event and to everyone who attended the mass on Thursday, a working day.
He also stated that it was nice to be in the same Mass with his immediate predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano, and wife, Ebelechukwu Obiano, APGA Senatorial Candidate for Anambra North, as well as the former Governor of Anambra State and the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.
Personalities in attendance included the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Sen. Victor Umeh (Labour Party Senatorial Candidate, Anambra Central), Hon. Ikenna Iyiegbu (Ike Cubana) APGA Candidate, Idemili North, and South Federal Constituency, Cardinals, Bishops, Monsignors, Rev. Fathers, Traditional Rulers, Papal Knights among others.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the celebration took place at Holy Trinity Cathedral Onitsha.
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Obi, Soludo, Obiano, Onaiyekan, others grace Cardinal Arinze’s 90th birthday in Onitsha