Character, values, and principles are the defining elements that shape the substance and essence of any man. This assertion resonates profoundly when we consider the remarkable life of His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, whose journey of eighty-seven years has been punctuated by God with uncommon love, good health, joy, peace, divine guidance, and providence. It is evident that God has walked alongside him and worked through him, as verified by his numerous outstanding achievements in service to God, His Church, and humanity. With unwavering dedication and commitment, Cardinal Okogie blossomed wherever he ministered, and even in retirement, his vibrant service and lifestyle continue to inspire, mirroring the passion he exhibited as the Archbishop of Lagos.
During his tenure as the Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Okogie kept the flame of God’s spirit alive in the Archdiocese, fostering love, unity, discipline, and peace among the faithful. Through the collaboration of devoted priests, religious, and lay faithful, he built an admirable and formidable Archdiocese. Today, it stands tall, thriving with responsible, proactive, generous, and spiritual Catholics, a legacy that the current Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, continues to uphold and strengthen.
One striking and commendable trait of Cardinal Okogie is his resolute commitment to truth and openness on any matter. . He is unafraid to speak the unadulterated truth, even when it may strain his relationships with those who need to hear it. Truth is an integral part of his character, making him a revolutionary figure. In the words of George Orwell, who says: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Indeed, Cardinal Okogie embodies this sentiment, particularly in his unapologetic criticism of government policies and his fight against injustices and the infringement of human rights. He fears no one and is willing to put his life on the line for the cause of truth, justice, and peace. Even in retirement, he remains vocal about Nigeria’s socio-political challenges and deeply concerned about the plight of the masses.
Moreover, Cardinal Okogie’s life epitomizes generosity. He selflessly gives and wholeheartedly embraces Jesus’ command to give and love. Countless individuals and institutions owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to his selfless acts of kindness. Even in retirement, Cardinal Okogie continues to bring smiles to the faces of the less fortunate with humility and discretion. I recall a poignant moment during one of his birthday celebrations when he humbly turned away a photographer who sought to capture the recipients of his charitable deeds. With profound empathy, he questioned, “If you were in their shoes, would you want people to take pictures of you in this way?” His words left an indelible mark, reminding me that true charity is devoid of self-promotion or showmanship.
Furthermore, Cardinal Okogie imparts a timeless mantra to all who cross his path: “Be mindful of money, wine, and women.” His intention is not to condemn these aspects, but rather to caution against the perils of excessive greed that can accompany the pursuit of earthly pleasures. As he eloquently puts it, “You can never have enough of anything.” Thus, he urges us all to temper our desires, safeguard our minds, and channel our pursuits towards nobler endeavors.
In conclusion, as we honor and celebrate the extraordinary patriarch of faith, His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie, we collectively express our heartfelt gratitude to God for the precious gift of his presence among us. We thank God for his remarkable journey thus far and entrust the remaining years to God’s divine providence, praying for the grace of final perseverance for His Eminence. We extend our sincerest appreciation and prayers to all the generous benefactors and individuals, who support and take care of him during his well-deserved retirement. May God abundantly bless and reward each one of you. Happy 87th birthday, Your Eminence! Happy birthday, Baba!! Aseyi Samodun!!!
Johnpaul is a Seminarian and student. He can be reached via Melchi5801@gmail.com