In celebration of his 70th birthday, the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has admonished citizens to live exemplary lives. The chief shepherd of Awka Diocese who clocked 70 on the 13th of November, made the call as he marked the week with visitations to various institutions to celebrate life and God’s gracious mercies to him, story by Adejumoke Alebiosu, Anthony A. Akinomolafe, Marcellinus Uzuawu and lfeanyi Ndukwe
At the visit to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, COOUTH, Amaku, Awka, Bishop Ezeokafor, in the company of parish priests, reverend sisters, among others, distributed gift items to patients at the different wards of the medical facility. The emotional moments in the emergency wards came as he offset the outstanding bills of two elderly patients.
In response, the Chief Medical Director of the institution, Dr. Joe Akabuike, expressed delight and thanked the bishop for what he described as his immense contributions to society.
The bishop also seized the opportunity to call on the Anambra State Government and good spirited Nigerians to support the weak and sick by donations and prayers for health.
In another courtesy visit to the Faith Orphanage, Tempsite, Awka, the bishop was warmly received by the Shepherd of the Anglican Church, Diocese of the Niger, Bishop Ibezim.
ArchBishop Ibezim prayed God to grant Bishop Ezeokafor long life and prosperity and to continually enjoy the mercies of God.
In his vote of thanks, Bishop Ezeokafor expressed his joy for another year of birthday celebration, noting that celebrating with children was one of the endearing virtues as instructed by Jesus.
‘We have to show the brethren to express love for another, walking in faith and caring for each other because Heaven is the ultimate goal,’ he said, while applauding what he described as the legacy-driven leadership of the Anglican bishop and his resilience in the spread of the gospel.
‘I thank God that the Dioceses of Anglican Church is growing and expanding in all horizons. My prayer is for more grace and glory to our dear Lord Jesus,’ Bishop Ezeokafor said.
He also called on the government to pay the lecturers their salaries and noted regretfully that the government had failed in its role of maintaining standards in education.
His words, ‘You cannot use the funds for payment of civil servants and lecturers to distribute amongst the senators. I call on the FG to pay the lecturers so that students will receive quality teachings and avoid engaging in social vices.’
The items donated to Saint Faith Orphanage included, 5 bags of rice, 20 tubers of yam, 5 cartons of tissue paper, 10 cartons of noodles, 5 packets of biscuits and soft drinks for the kids.
In her address, the administrator of the orphanage, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Onuorah, thanked Bishop Ezeokafor for his gesture. She said the love shown by him was overwhelming and prayed for greater heights and many years of graceful celebrations.
He followed it up by a visit to the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Awka, where he was received by the Controller in charge, Mr. Patrick Chukwuemeka.
The bishop admonished the prison wardens to uphold discipline in the discharge of their duties and pleaded with them to apply human touch while dealing with the inmates.
In his homily, Bishop Ezeokafor advised the inmates to decide to be worthy ambassadors of society.
‘In the past, it used to be called prison. But today, it’s called correctional centre. The intention is to confine you and make you a better person. A place to reform you for better life,’ he said.
Making reference to criminals of the past, the Bishop of Awka Diocese said his job as a father was to look out for the wellbeing of the children God had brought under his care.
In his welcome speech, the Assistant Controller of the Awka Correctional Centre, Mr A.C. Nwanna, thanked the bishop for what he described as his continual fatherly love and support towards the facility. He cited two major challenges facing them which included logistics and rehabilitation of inmates through adequate skill acquisition programmes.
He lamented the lack of equipment to ensure maximum training of inmates to equip them for life after prison term.
Highlights of the event included the cutting of the cake by the celebrant in the company of the host and other guests; the presentation of birthday gifts by the Management of the facility; welcome song by the inmates and confirmation of 17 prisoners.
The week long activities included a novelty match in honour of the celebrant at the Enugwu Ukwu Sports Centre; youth empowerment by the bishop; book presentation last Wednesday and thanksgiving Mass on Thursday.