S.E.R. Valerian Okeke

Archbishop of Onitsha, Metropolita
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He spent his primary school years in a Catholic institution. He decided at a very young age that he would like to become a priest and he received support both by his parent and teachers along the way. His high school studies were interrupted because of a civil war in Nigeria. After he changed schools in the wake of the war, he studied philosophy and theology. He was ordained a priest in 1981. After five years of priestly service in Rome, he earned a doctoral degree in moral theology. Besides having a degree in journalism, he also holds diplomas in Italian, German and French language studies. He was appointed as the Archbishop of Onitsha in 2002, and a year later he was also named Metropolitan of the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province. The 8 sub-provinces of Onithsa province have a combined population of approximately 3 million people. As a Metropolitan Archbishop he is responsible for the other provinces too, so he has a herd of 10 million people to look out for. Despite their problems and hardships, the people of Nigeria are very happy. Archbishop Okeke once said: „This happiness is rooted in their faith in God. The average Nigerian believes that everything that God does is good. And they also believe that one day God will turn their hardships into a blessing. They are waiting for the day when the Almighty will intervene – when he appears in their lives and turn all their sorrow into happiness, and their hardships into blessings. Their hopes are shaped by their faith, and their hope is faith in a better and brighter tomorrow. So, people are always happy here, because they believe that God is yet to carry out his work in Nigeria.”

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