I am at a loss for words!
Msgr. Raphael Anasiudu and Fr. Jude Okafor (Papa Nnukwu), it was just a day with both of you, but that day left an indelible mark in my life.
It has been said that as a general rule of thumb, there are at least five persons that one would meet during the course of their lives that would have a lasting impact on them, and for me, these late Generals (that’s what I call them) were part of these five.
I was home on Sunday 19th July 2020, when my phone beeped. It took me a while to even check what the message read. Later, I picked up the phone and the message was, ‘We lost Fr. Jude Okafor’. My heart skipped and immediately, memories of my last birthday (3rd March 2020) experience with him, flashed through my mind. Getting to the office on Monday, 20th July 2020, I heard also, that Msgr. Raphael Anasiudu, had passed on too.
It was then that I realized that two big friends of mine were gone forever.
How I met them
I first met Msgr. Raphael Anasiudu, when I celebrated my birthday on the 3rd of March 2020, at the Retirement home for priests in the Catholic Diocese of Awka. I was so captured with the interest he had in me, he fired a lot of bullets that came as questions to me (smiles), his kind words to me and the level of humility he exuded, softened my heart. Msgr. Anasiudu, was far way beyond my level: academic; experience and age wise; but he was so calm and friendly and from then until now I felt privileged and honored to have known him. As an up and rising journalist, I was so encouraged and excited when he noted that he was an ardent reader/follower of my inspirational personality page on Fides Newspaper. That made me more serious and believed in myself to have such a personality who read my works. And from then, I was pushed to ask more about him. “I learnt you were a journalist, a careful and a critic writer, an ardent reader, and one of the oldest columnists in Fides Newspaper. No wonder, you bombarded me with so many questions that day,
“Msgr., I loved your unique sense of humour, your ability to analyze quickly and offer words of wisdom, but most of all, I appreciate you for dedicating your live to God and humanity.
For Fr. Jude Okafor, they call you Papa Nnukwu at the retirement home. You never missed any event. I had always seen you in almost all the events I covered, even though you spent up to thirty to forty minutes walking up to the sacristy to join other priests, that to me shows a personality who loved people.
You were already old and sick when the celebration of my birthday was announced, but you still struggled out of your room with your walking stick to come to celebrate with a young girl you never knew. You hardly could speak, but you muttered words of love to me. I am sure you could not see me, but you reached out to touch my hands and you prayed for me. You even took pictures with me, even though you could not stand erect.
You looked so shaken that day, but I envied the strength in you even at that age.
Jee nke oma Papa Nnukwu…”
Although, I promised to have an interview session with each one-of you at the retirement home, and I looked forward to celebrating my next birthday at the retirement home again. But then, you both will not be there. I will miss your faces and kind words, but I hope to see you my big friends, when we get to heaven.
Rest in Peace Msgr. Raphael Anasiudu and Fr. Jude Okafor. Your words to me still live on because I am sure I will be able to make great use of every advice you gave to me that day.
Now, your Souls are free, you will be able to see the bright yellow sun, the fragrant flowers, the swaying trees, and the rolling blue sea in heaven (the heaven I imagined since I was a kid).
I will never forget you both and I will always do my best to live up to all you advised that day.
Thank you for having allowed me to be part of your stories and for having to come into mine by celebrating my birthday with me.
Sleep on my big friends!