By Chris Nzeh
The emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese John Cardinal Onaiyekan has commended the Legion of Mary for their commitment to the service of God, while praying for God’s blessings and strength upon them in their commitment towards a better humanity.
He stated this while receiving a delegation of the Abuja Senatus of the Legion of Mary led by their Spiritual Director Rev. Fr. John-Mary Atep, who paid him a visit on Thursday 18 January 2024.
According to the Rev. fr Atep the visit was to show appreciation to His Eminence for the enormous support which the Legion of Mary in Abuja enjoyed under his watch as the Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese and also to congratulate him as he celebrates his 80th birthday come 29th January 2024.
While receiving the Legionaries, Onaiyekan said he was elated when he was informed of the visit by Rev. Fr. John-Mary Atep, adding that he did not take the request for granted because of the sustained commitment of the Legion of Mary and that “he did what he did because it was what he ought to do.” He reminded members of the delegation that “Jesus Christ said when we do what are supposed to do we should not expect commendations as we are unprofitable servants doing what we are supposed to do”.
The Cardinal expressed gratitude to God for sound mind and good health, which has helped him sustain a busy schedule. His itinerary still includes traveling both home and abroad just as he also engages in other activities like reading, writing and meditating on the Word of God.
He concluded by expressing his appreciation to his successor, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama who has ensured that he is well taken care of in retirement and prayed that His Grace would also enjoy the same privileges accorded him, and even more, from his own successor when his own time comes.
Responding, Rev. Fr. John-Mary Atep, while presenting His Eminence with a beautifully crafted Spiritual Bouquet, informed him that Legionaries have prayed 15,421 decades of the Rosary for his intentions, to which His Eminence responded by saying he can fly to heavens with those prayers.
This, Fr. Atep said, the prayers were also in appreciation of his ecclesiastical guidance, support and nurturing of the Legion of Mary in Abuja, from Curia to Senatus.
He stated that the Legion of Mary in Abuja would forever remain grateful to His Eminence as it was under his watch and fatherly support, that Abuja was able to rise to the enviable position of a Senatus – second highest council in the hierarchy of the Legion and one of only three in Nigeria.
Rev Fr John-Mary thanked the Cardinal immensely because the growth from Curia into a Senatus was no mean fit and the Legion in Abuja achieved this under his supportive watch when he was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese. He recalled that when ever Legionaries ran to him for anything they met a father-figure who listened and encouraged them. He prayed for God to bless His Eminence with good health of mind and body.
The President of Abuja Senatus Bro. Cletus Eichie also thanked the Cardinal for the warm reception he accorded the Abuja Senatus. He expressed sincere gratitude for all His Eminence has been doing for the Church especially the Legion of Mary, both during his tenure as the Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese and thereafter. He recalled, to the amazement of His Eminence and all present the story told by His Eminence himself, how he faired as a young Legionary. He wished His Eminence well and extended the goodwill of all Legionaries in Abuja Archdiocese and beyond.
His Eminence then led the officers to his private Chapel where he offered prayers for their wellbeing and God’s blessings on the Legion of Mary.