The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday played host to well-wishers, on a thanksgiving mass for the respected Cardinal Francis Arinze on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
From the record of the event, the day could not have been more joyous for a man once widely regarded as the first black man likely to become
The auditorium was filled to capacity, with many more on the exterior, as thousands of devotees came out to honour the priest.
In his homily, a former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria and recently ordained Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said Arinzeâ€™s 80 years on earth was dedicated to the service of humanity and God at different levels, locally and internationally.
He said the Catholic Church is a â€œclear voice of authentic Christian traditionâ€ and was proud to have Arinze as the â€œindefatigable bearer of that voice.â€
The highlight of the event was the reading of the goodwill message of Pope Benedict XVI by the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Hilary Okeke.
The Pope thanked Cardinal Arinze for his dedicated service to God and the Church and prayed for Godâ€™s grace upon him.
In his speech, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, who is equally a Catholic described Cardinal Arinze as a â€œgift of God to humanityâ€. He called on
younger priests to emulate the apostolic zeal of the clergyman.
He added that his government would seek further areas of cooperation with the Church in a partnership intended to make Anambra State a
better place in terms of human development.