A Keynote Address by the Archbishop, at the 6th Convocation Ceremony of Blessed Iwene Tansi Seminary, Onitsha

1. Gratitude: The first gratitude goes to God the Almighty Father from whom all our blessings come. Through whose inspiration, this great seminary was established who has the priesthood and the gift to it. He has invited us to the priesthood and given many of us, the gift of that exalted office. To him be glory, honour, praise and thanksgiving, now and forever: Amen.

I will like to thank the formators for the work they are doing. It is a work that is peculiarly unique. It calls for selflessness; it calls for dedication to duty; it calls for sacrifice; it calls for role modelling; It calls for discipline. I thank you for accepting to try and to do. the very act of the good intention of accepting, is already the journey well-begun and half made. May the Lord bless you. May He thank you more through Christ Our Lord: Amen.

Last but not the least, I want to thank the students for their docility and their readiness to be formed. I pray that God will bless your good intentions. And that the formation will truly transform you, that you will be the best to God and humanity, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

In a special way, I want to thank the Rector for this wonderful citation., the citation on me. The achievements if you call them so, are really collective work and you are part of it. Those prayers you said for me are part of it. Without those prayers, the achievement would have been a mirage. when you dream and achieve, it is God that makes it to happen. And your prayers and solid support have always been part of the success. May the Lord bless you, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

2. Be A Transformational Leaders: As Priests in the Proximate Potency and As Priests already ordained, like the young graduands, you are called to be Leaders. You are stepping into the shoes of Moses, the Leader, the leader of the people of God. You are stepping into the shoes of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Our Redeemer, the Way, the Truth and the Life. The world needs leaders. The Leadership given by the Church to Europe in the Middle Ages, transformed Europe. The leadership given by the Church, through the Priests to the entire world, gave the world, the civilization the world has today. The world is less civilized to the extent, they have departed from that leadership and that teaching. The structure of modern academic life today, the elementary schools and the Secondary schools started in the Church, in the cathedral schools and monastic schools, and schools built by Religious congregations. The nature of the university studies and the structure of university life today, came from the

Church. The first universities in the world were built and run by the Church: The University of Bolognian, the University of Salamanca, the University of Paris, and so on. At that point in time when Universities started, it was the Pope, who had the exclusive right to give the authority to teach – jus ubique Docendi. It was the exclusive right of the Pope to establish the higher institutions that we call Universities today. Then, they were called, Study centres – Studium Generale. Today, the world is still waiting for the Church, for better guidance, for better leadership.

In Nigeria, we need the Church to play that role, that the Church should play for Nigeria to change. I therefore call for transformational leadership. Be a Leader that transforms. The day you accept the call to the priesthood, that day you have accepted the call to be a leader. A leader who does not give good leadership is not a leader at all. A Good leader goes for values; a leader goes for excellence. Excellence goes with goals and excellence is ongoing.

3. Key Ingredients of Transformational Leadership: What are the key ingredients that make a good leader: Knowledge and sense of service. When you stop knowing, you start dying and become useless. A leader of an institution remains relevant, effective and efficient as long as that leader offers great values. People go from here to overseas looking for hospitals, did they see one here and decided to go there? They do so because that is where they are seeing the value in their quest for good health and life. They want to be alive. If it means going to a far distance, they are ready to risk their lives and go there just to be alive. If we are good priests, nobody will leave us and follow a charlatan; if we are good leaders, nobody will leave you to follow a dupe. Good leaders transform and offer values. They live by example, and they offer knowledge. The bible tells us, because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you. Keep learning! you can never learn enough, and in the school of learning, there is no final graduation point. For those who are already priests today, young priests, you will be very busy and very soon you tell me you have no time to read even when you have summa cum laude here. You tell me, you have no time to pray even when you were the liturgist here, the director of liturgy as a seminarian, guiding others and teaching them the right way to worship. Let me reveal to you something you have to put in your pocket, both those yet to be ordained and those already ordained. Any day, any single day, you are not able to read for at least one hour and to pray, for at least one hour, regard that day as wasted. Try to recover it, in the coming days. To be a leader, you must love knowledge. You should know at least a little more than those you lead. You cannot know a little more than anybody when you are ignorant. And you cannot know by not learning. To learn, you have to read, read and read. Read the scriptures, read books, seek knowledge, love knowledge,

acquire knowledge and be able to discern between what is good and what is evil. Then you know the philosophy to plan your life and plan ahead. And after all your plans and skills, you must have to pray because without me Christ tells us, you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders labour. (Ps 127:1)

4. Give transformational leadership. My dear Students and Graduands, A leader goes for excellence. There is a difference between branding and excellence, there is a difference between packaging and excellence. Packaging is external, branding is external, excellence is internal. Excellence transforms. Excellence is going for the finest and highest quality in anything. As a leader, if you pursue excellence, you will give transformational leadership. Excellence will include branding and packaging, but packaging can never replace excellence. You can have the most beautiful soutane, the best car and the best everything external but you don’t pray, and you don’t read, and you are not spiritual, you are a disaster.

Dear brothers, priesthood calls for excellence. Our work calls us to be great leaders and transformational leaders. I pray for you. May you give transformational leadership.

Thank you and May the Lord bless you.

+VALERIAN M. OKEKE

Archbishop of Onitsha

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