By Ononye VC
In continuation of activities marking his 70th birthday celebration,the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha,Most Rev Valerian Okeke on Tuesday (Nov 14, 2023)embarked on a charity visit to three major hospitals belonging to the Anglican and Catholic churches where he settled treatment bills for indigent patients running into several millions.
He first visited the Anglican Church owned Iyi-Enu Specialist hospital,Ogidi where he was received by the hospital manager,Canon Tochukwu Okwuchukwu ,followed by the St Charles Borromeo Specialist hospital where he was received by the Chief Executive Officer Rev Fr Dr Izunna Okonkwo and the Federal Medical Centre Onitsha (formerly Onitsha General Hospital)where he was received by the Chief Medical Director (CMD)Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Anugwu.
While addressing the patients at the various hospital wards, Archbishop Okeke told the elated patients that he visited to pray for them for God to grant them speedy recovery just as God has blessed him with good health to live up 70 years.
According to him,part of his gratitude and thanksgiving to God on his 70th birthday was to visit the sick,pray for them and assist in settling their bills especially for those who found it difficult to do so.
Some of the patients who benefitted from the Archbishop’s charity visit were involved in road accident,fire incident,critical surgeries,child births and other ailments.
Across the hospitals visited,excited patients,doctors,nurses and relatives of the patients sang “Happy Birthday” songs for the Archbishop which he appreciated.
At the Federal Medical Centre Onitsha,staff,student nurses and doctors lined up the entrance gate of the hospital to receive the Archbishop and his entourage.
The hospital representatives expressed gratitude to the Archbishop for his benevolence.
He was accompanied on the visit by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese,Very Rev Fr Johnbosco Okafor, Chancellor of the Archdiocese,Very Rev Fr Dr Prudentius Emeka Aroh, Secretary to the Archbishop,Very Rev Fr Emmanuel Onunkwo,the Episcopal Vicar Onitsha Region,Very Rev Fr Dr Victor Mbanisi.Also with the Archbishop are the Episcopal Vicar of Dunukofia Region,Very Rev Fr Aloysius Ikekwe,the Onitsha Archdiocesan Financial Controller,Very Rev Fr Philip Ibeneme,the Onitsha Archdiocesan Vice Chancellor,Very Rev Fr Basil Ekwunife and the Onitsha Archdiocesan Director of Social Communications,Very Rev Fr Dr George Adimike.
Others are,the Onitsha Archdiocesan Director of Catholic Women Association (CWO)Dame Dr Ngozi Nwanosike,the Secretary General of CWO Archdiocese of Onitsha Lady Chika Obike and representative of the CMO,Hon Casmir Izukanne as well as the representative of the Onitsha Archdiocesan Laity Council.
It would be recalled that activities marking the Archbishop’s 70th birthday began on October 20,2023 (date of his birth) inside the Onitsha Federal Custodial Centre where he celebrated a thanksgiving mass which was attended by dignitaries from all walks of life including the Anambra State Governor Prof Chukwuma Soludo and the Nigerian Controller of Custodial Centres.He also commissioned and handed over to the Nigerian government,a multimillion Naira Skill Acquisition Centre he built for the inmates for which the federal government honoured him with an award of Grand Patron of Nigerian Custodial Centres,the first of it’s kind ever awarded to any individual in the country.
The Archbishop is also expected to feed the poor in the coming days as part of his 70th birthday celebration before the grand finale on 23rd November 2023.