My Beloved Young Ones,

The Future Belongs to Us

Greetings in the Lord!

It is with great joy and insight to a better tomorrow, that I stand before you today, the young minds and reliable assets of our future.

I express my profound sentiments of gratitude to the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Chaplaincy, Nnamdi Azikiwe Univesioty Chaplaincy, Awka for this wonderful initiative. The chaplain, the student organizers and the final year students; you have all put in not a mean time and energy for this event to see the light of the day. Congratulations to you all. And may the name of the Lord be praised for ages unending.

A time or event like this affords us the cherished opportunity to re-evaluate very succinctly what we were, what we are and what we shall be; where we were, where we are and where we shall be. While the thought of “what we are” leads us to the reality of life, attitude, habit and values, “where we are” leads us to that of location, locomotion, planning and vision. In effect, the formation and training of the human person have articulated these from the earliest times.

The curriculum of education is aimed at working in man, for man and through man. It helps to build up, shape and reshape, construct and reconstruct, vivify and equip man for exploits in his life adventure. It stops at nothing in ennobling humanity. Consequently, you my beloved ones are already drilled and very much expected to be people of nobility of character, integrity in thought, quintessential in relationship, seasoned gentlemen and ladies, selfless in service, sincerity of purpose and above all empowered by unrivalled passion for work, unmitigated vision assisted by God’s grace in prayers.

With these, one recalls with nostalgia what the Igbo race used to be and destined to become. It is a race that has produced one of the great Nigerian Nationalists – Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; the first Nigerian Olympic gold medalist – Major Ifeajuna; the first recognized business mogul and millionaire – Sir Louis Odimegwu Ojukwu; the best University brains and technocrats including the likes of the great mathematician – Prof. Chike Obi; the noble prize winner and African writer – Prof. Chinua Achebe; others – Prof Dora Akunyili, Prof Ndi Okereke Onyiuke, Prof Charles Soludo, Prof Chuba Okadigbo; has accommodated the biggest market in west Africa before the war – the Onitsha Main market; the first graduate in the Nigerian Army before the war – the Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu; the first African Prelate ranking third in the history of the Catholic Church – His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze; the first Blessed in the West Africa and the patron of the Nigerian Priests – Blessed Iwene Tansi; the first and as of now the only Basilica in Nigeria – the Cathedral Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha.

It becomes palpable then that a lot is expected from you my beloved sons and daughters. Our local communities need our undaunted commitment; our States deserve our assiduous and relentless efforts; our nation looks onto us for redefinition and transformation. It is a work that awaits us. It is a task that must be done. It belongs to me and you. With hope and love, the Church extends her hands of solidarity ready to assist you in this noble job for Christ has come that we may have life and have it in abundance (John 10: 10).

God bless you all.

Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke

Archbishop of Onitsha