AS THE Catholic Bishop of the Nnewi Diocese, Most Reverend Hilary Odili Paul Okeke, marks 74 today, Anambra State Government and people of the state have lauded him for the masterful job of shepherding the diocese in the last 20 years.
The state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, in a statement in Awka, disclosed that Governor Willie Obiano has already sent a special birthday message to the respected religious leader and observed that the Vatican could not have chosen a better person to serve as the pioneer bishop of the diocese.
“Bishop Okeke is not just the tallest bishop in Nigeria in terms of height but also very tall in wisdom, knowledge, intellect, energy, faith, morals, peaceful co-existence, administration and leadership.
“He is the first in his class of priests ordained by Francis Cardinal Arinze on April 20, 1974, at the Holy Trinity Basilica in Onitsha, to become a papal chamberlain, and was by the time he was raised to the bishopric serving as the Vicar General of the Onitsha Archdiocese, from where the Nnewi Diocese was carved out.
“An internationally recognised authority on the Canon Law, Bishop Okeke has always enjoyed a reputation for discharging duties with aplomb.
“Apart from serving as a senior lecturer at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt, where he set up the Department of Canon Law, Most Reverend Okeke has served with the Anambra State Ministry of Education as a supervisor and taught at Boys High School, Ogbaru, when Ogbaru Local Government Area had no such basic amenities as tarred roads, pipe-borne water, public electricity supply and telephones, apparently on account of its difficult terrain.
“He carried out each assignment with cheer and enthusiasm, inspiring other people to do likewise.
“A lively conversationalist, lucid writer and engaging debater, Bishop Okeke is the author of books, learned journal articles and conference papers.
“We are delighted that the bishop takes no credit for any of his considerable achievements but rather ascribes them to God. His humility is, indeed, infectious,” Adinuba stated.