Monsignor, my wife and sons join me in sending you our heartiest congratulations on your 100th Birthday! This is one birthday being celebrated in our country that I believe the celebrant has actually attained that ripe age!
I say this because we have examples of people in our midst who have fast forwarded their ages to hide old prison convictions or have cut back their ages in order to hang on ingloriously to their political or public appointments but there is no room for such comic manoeuvres in the Lord’s Vineyard!
Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie as he was then known, planted the seed of the catholic Church in 1004 Flats in Victoria Island, Lagos and you named it, the Church of St. Charles Borromeo and nurtured it!
You moulded and directed those of us living in the Estate, Lawani and family, Dominic Eneanya and family, Martha Nwihim and her daughters, Stella and Bella, Callistus Kayode and family, Mrs. Mustapha and her children, others were from the Television House and many others, too numerous to mention here, were taught that the Catholic Church was universal and had doctrines and traditions which should be respected and taken very seriously.
Your Holy Masses started dead on time and the Choir practised and practised their Songs of Praise before rendering them in their melodious tunes on Sundays while your Lay readers prepared their Readings with the utmost diligence.
As your Congregation was made up of mere mortals, you made us realise that you have observed that some young men had made it a habit of sitting near some pretty girls so that when it came to the Prayer for Peace, they, (the young men) could shake the soft and dainty hands of the damsels! It was a joke but it showed the relaxed and exhilarating atmosphere in which your flock radiated!
As if that was not enough, you very often invited us to your green and leafy residence in Victoria Island where, at Tea Time, we noticed that you rather had a sweet-tooth and used your teaspoonful of sugar rather gratuitously for your tea and when we expressed our fear of its deleterious effect on the teeth, you dismissed our fear with a wave of the hand, assuring us that your constitution could take it! At 100 years of age, it certainly has!
Monsignor, you also liked your pipe and to think that all the nicotine you probably inhaled and exhaled in all those years, the Good Lord has certainly looked askance! I salute you!
Enjoy your Day as we say:
“Ad Multos Annos!”
By Phillip Ideh (Snr)