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St. Gregory Old Boys honour Cardinal Okogie at 80

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
17 July 2016   |   1:16 am
Recalling his childhood, Cardinal Okogie said, “After God, I think I have to call my alma mater. In the year 1951, I entered St. Gregory’s College. It is true I was the smallest in the class, but also the most rascally.
The celebrant, His Eminence, Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie (middle) cutting his 80th birthday cake assisted by Monsignor Bernard Okodua (left), Archbishop of Ibadan Diocese, Alaba Job and ladies of St. Gregory Old Boys Association.

The celebrant, His Eminence, Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie (middle) cutting his 80th birthday cake assisted by Monsignor Bernard Okodua (left), Archbishop of Ibadan Diocese, Alaba Job and ladies of St. Gregory Old Boys Association.

Old Boys of St. Gregory’s College alongside friends and well-wishers gathered at the college’s chaplaincy to celebrate His Eminence, Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, who recently joined the octogenarian league. A mass was held in his honour and reception followed in the school’s premises.

Recalling his childhood, Cardinal Okogie said, “After God, I think I have to call my alma mater. In the year 1951, I entered St. Gregory’s College. It is true I was the smallest in the class, but also the most rascally. I left St. Gregory in 1954 for the seminary and life in the seminary was a whole lot different from that of St. Gregory College.”

While praising the school for having proper documentation, he said, “When my sister (Mrs.) Dawodu told me my registration number in St. Gregory’s College was 1664, I asked her how she found out and she said it was in the programme of event. When I got here today and checked, I found out she was right. It is good that we have this kind of documentation and if we can find time to put similar information together and produce a book, it will be a good resource material, not only for the Archdiocese, but also for the institutions in the church.”

He thanked the administrators of the school, both past and present. “It is not easy to keep the school and its structure going for your children and grand children to attend. So, we should all join hands together to ensure that the school’s standard increases by the day,” he said.

In a homily delivered by Rev. Julius Olaitan, Dean, Lagos Mainland Deanery, he eulogised the Cardinal, saying, “Our gathering today is to give thanks to God for his life, and we are not tired of seeing his Eminence around. He is very passionate about education and always talks about the standard of education in the country. When schools, especially the missionaries were doing badly in the hands of the government, he fought for them to be returned back to the church. The last, Marywood School was returned in 2001; the church demolished it and erected a new one, including an upgrade in the standard of education.

“The cardinal is a lover of children; all the children in Lagos belong to him and his care for children knows no bounds. He is strongly against parents not catering or spending time with their children, while paying so much attention to work and career.”

While informing that it was during Okogie’s tenure as Archbishop of Lagos that the St. Augustine University kicked off, Fr. Olaitan said government should create an enabling environment for education to thrive in the country, as well as encourage all to fear God and be courageous in facing the challenges of life.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ayeni, administrator of St. Gregory College, in his message said, “Anthony Cardinal Okogie is a great soul of the present in every sense of the word. He lives an exemplary life as a priest, serving God and humanity breathtakingly. The history of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos and Christianity in Nigeria will be incomplete without a thunderous mention of the 39 years of his fruitful reign. We celebrate His Eminence, not just because he is an old boy of the college, but the immediate past proprietor, Archbishop, who fought tirelessly to return college to the Catholic Mission and the current chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Old Boys Association.

Dr. John Abebe, President of the Old Boys Association, said, “At the heart of every Gregorian is an ethos to establish enduring relationships by offering brotherliness that last beyond expectations and no living Gregorian personifies that better than our own Cardinal at 80. He has conducted himself with dignity, decorum, honesty and fearlessness that will endure in our hearts for years to come.”