Nigerian Christians have been admonished to follow Christ’s perfect example of the cross to strengthen their Christian journey and deepen their faith in God, as Catholics faithful celebrated the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross.
This admonition was given by Bernard Okodua, the Vicar, Lagos region archdiocese, at the celebration of the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross and 50th memorial anniversary of John Kwao Amuzu Aggey, the first African archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, held on Thursday 14 September at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos.
Okodua in his homily urged Christian faithful to carry their cross with pride as it portrays the significance of the Christian faith and belief in God through His son Jesus Christ. “It is called the exaltation of the cross or the triumph of the cross. The cross signifies punishment, pain or death; hence nobody likes to carry a cross. When we have difficulties or disappointment, we call it a cross,” he said.
According to him, the cross of Jesus Christ is what Christians adored, remember and honour in their daily living. “So they crucified Him because that was one of the normal ways of the Romans; punishing a criminal for them: Jesus was a criminal for us, He is our Savior. He chose to die on the cross willingly. That means without the cross, no resurrection. And if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith and preaching has no meaning,” Okodua said.
Speaking on Aggey’s impact on the church, Okodua said that the Church cannot grow without local clergy. According to him, Aggey was a peacemaker in every way. “A man of God and the people; a prayerful man,” he said.
“He does not believe that somebody cannot do something. He will encourage you; no matter what, he will encourage you and make sure you are through with that your vocation,” Gabriel Ojomo, who was one of the mass servers at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin with Aggey said in his testimonial about the archbishop. Now a sacristan at parish, Ojomo said that Aggey was very kind to the people around him
After serving at various stations of the Archdiocese, Aggey was appointed auxiliary bishop of Lagos and consecrated on 4th August 1957, by the late Archbishop Leo H. Taylor. He later succeeded Taylor as Archbishop in 1965. Over a period of time, as the Archbishop of Lagos, he resided at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin.
The last public engagement of the late Archbishop after the National Episcopal Conference of 1972 was on Sunday 27th February when he officiated at the coronation of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and the investiture of Gabriel Dotse, then deputy superintendent of Police as a Knight of St. Gregory (Military Class) at the Holy Cross Cathedral.